Using Musical Ensembles to Teach
by Dom Famularo and Joe Bergamini,

Studying drums is a fun journey, but playing alone is not the full picture. Creating energy with other musicians is another level of expression that must be experienced to be fully appreciated and understood. Imagine guitar, bass, keyboard and even brass players all focusing on the same music to paint a full picture of musical sounds! As drummers, we need other melodic musicians to help us see how our studies fit into the bigger picture. There are certainly challenges in organizing an ensemble program, but the rewards are much greater! Seeing the flame in the eyes of a child light up is reward enough! An ensemble program is the ultimate teaching situation for the growth of a student and also provides the opportunity to apply all the tools learned in lessons.

Creating an ensemble program can happen in your community. There are teachers on all instruments located closer than you may realize. These educators also want the same musical growth for their students. By creating a network of other local instrumental instructors, a music store or school could help establish a system of ensembles for all students to participate in. Following are some ways in which this could work and how it would benefit the various parties:

There are many resources to find other teachers in your area:

  • Contact teachers from your local music store or from other area stores.

  • Extend invitations to all local instructors and independent music schools. Use the yellow pages in addition to word of mouth to find all the teachers in your area.

  • Contact school band directors, as they are an important resource of the names of private teachers.

Soon, you'll have a full list of all local instructors and can begin coordinating a program. Some organizational skills and time will be necessary to get things up and running. All the teachers involved could split some of the preliminary duties. A master list should be made with all students' names and phone numbers. Then a rehearsal space must be found. At some larger music stores, it would be ideal to have a "master class" room. Other options include a local public or private school, church, VFW hall or community center. Wherever the space is, be sure that it is equipped for all the musicians and vocalists. Assign the students to groups and select pieces together based on their musical level. Finally, schedule a concert to let the students showcase their new skills to family and friends.

This type of an ensemble would benefit everyone involved:

  • Teachers would inspire their students with a great opportunity and a terrific educational experience, and give them an incentive to stay in lessons.

  • Music stores or private music schools would bring in more business and become a center for purchasing and networking among both students and teachers.

  • Public school music programs would benefit from the attention and enthusiasm their programs would receive. * Parents would see a concrete outlet for their investment in lessons.

  • The students would benefit the most from a great educational experience, a chance to perform with other musicians and a fun, musical event!

There is a great responsibility that is associated with teaching - to empower a student no matter the age or ability to discover and uncover their potential talent. Being the one to organize ensemble and group sessions will plant the seeds of tomorrow's musicians to grow and flourish into complete and expressive artists!