Meri’s Musical Musings

Ensemble rules that apply in any musical situation, amateur or professional

Posted on: May 13, 2015


  1. The ensemble begins rehearsing PROMPTLY at the official start time, in your seat, music ready, quiet, instruments assembled and warmed up if applicable, looking at the ensemble leader. Breaks should also end right when the director or ensemble leader says so.
  2. When other sections of the ensemble are getting assistance with their part from the ensemble leader, follow along if you can or at least be quiet, because their parts may provide important cues in how to enter correctly on your part.
  3. If you have cues of other parts (most often in choir music), learn to understand the relationship of your part to others and the keyboard part if applicable.
  4. Sit or stand with good head, neck, and back posture, especially when performing. Choir members should remember to hold the music quite high to look good and read the music more easily.
  5. Have a pencil to mark important things the musical leader mentions.
  6. Count your rhythms carefully, especially in a canon or fugal section. And if you make a mistake, learn the correct way to play or sing it quickly.
  7. Count your rests carefully! Part of music is the space between the notes. If you’ve miscounted, learn to count it correctly 100% accurately.
    1. Be there for both rehearsals and performances, especially in a small ensemble. Lower pitched instruments are few in number in some bands and orchestras. Choirs often lack tenors and sometimes altos as well, while many choir pieces have divided parts in all voices, and if more than one singer on certain voice types is lacking, the choir pieces will have major holes in the harmony. Ideally each choir should have at least 3 singers per voice part, and 4-6 minimum is ideal, especially if a few choir members may be needed on an instrumental part for a number or two, are sick, or away for a trip or family function.
      1. Don’t complain about where the ensemble is going to perform or rehearse. Some choirs seem to like the organ loft even if it’s difficult to get up the stairs just because they don’t want to show their faces, even when the anthem clearly indicates the accompaniment is meant for piano.
      2. If you are going to be away for a performance, let the ensemble leader know and other people on your part. This is especially important in small choirs that are part of churches and can affect when certain pieces are done in which weeks.
      3. If you are struggling on your part, and you have strong members on your part, consider paying for some private lessons to help you master your parts and long term if you can from that member that knows what they are doing.
      4. The musical director has the final say on works performed, unless they open it up to suggestions.

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  • None
  • V V: Wish I had read this before I fell for their scheme ! Oh well - have posted my experience on Yelp and N49 and hoping others can avoid the pain of fal
  • clariniano: Thanks for the additional information. It was actually Yelp that deleted my reviews, because of so-called bias. I too have seen the horrible technique
  • No Thanks: Former Teacher at the Ontario Conservatory of Music I took lessons at the Ontario Conservatory and when I left for private lessons from another tea
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