One of the pleasures of learning to play a musical instrument is that it opens up opportunities to make music with others in a band, ensemble or orchestra. New music students may wonder what the difference is between these different groups of musicians, and whether they will be suitable for beginners....
Ensembles usually feature single instruments - for example, a flute or clarinet ensemble - or a family of instruments such as a woodwind ensemble consisting of a mixture of flute, clarinet and saxophone. Ensembles are usually smaller than orchestras and bands, so each individual plays a more prominent part. Members of ensembles tend to be intermediate level upwards, although there may be some amateur ensembles which will accept beginner students.
Beginner students who want to start playing with others will normally find that a community orchestra provides the most supportive environment. Community orchestras typically accept all-comers, sometimes with a minimum level as low as Grade 1, or a certain amount of playing experience. Easy parts are provided for beginners, and the conductor is usually very supportive.
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The most popular types of band are jazz bands and concert bands. Jazz bands are upbeat and fun, but beginner students often find jazz bands more difficult to take part in, because jazz music often includes playing on the off-beat and unusual rhythms. Concert bands typically play evergreen chart-toppers, together with well-known music from films and musicals. Beginner students often find it easier to play music that they are familiar with, and many amateur concert bands will have parts to suit lower levels.
Find a band, ensemble, choir or orchestra throughout the UK