Taking Chamber Music to the Orchestra

The August 2010 String Workshop column discussed the topic of introducing chamber music to young string players. As an addendum, it’s worth noting that the introduction of chamber music can prove beneficial to an entire orchestra. While directors often relish the opportunity to have students learn and perform the types of pieces that can only be handled by a larger ensemble, evidence suggests that including chamber music pieces in the orchestra repertoire will strengthen student skills.

Ann Forman, orchestra director of River Trails School District 26 in Mt. Prospect, Illinois, is enthusiastic about the concept. “I believe a larger orchestra could benefit from the interpretive and sensitive playing that can be instilled as a result of learning chamber music,” she says. This sensitivity encourages a stronger sense of ensemble, something that larger orchestras sometimes struggle to establish.

One by-product of chamber music exploration is the possibility of forming smaller performance groups within the larger orchestra. “Exploring music of smaller ensembles during the regular rehearsal time provides an opportunity to have break-out ensembles equipped with repertoire to perform in the community without much additional rehearsal,” Forman says. Ensembles like these are a great to give students the experience of performing in a range of settings from weddings to parties, while also giving the music program more of a presence outside school walls.

This article has been adapted from an article of the same name by Cynthia Darling. Turn to page 50 of your October Teaching Music to read the entire article.

— Nicole Springer, October 13, 2010. © National Association for Music Education.