Playing an instrument well and playing an instrument well in the context of an ensemble are different. In this practical guidebook, authors Robin Fountain and Thomas E. Verrier empower musicians to get the most out of their ensemble experience, exploring six concepts developed over years observing and interviewing musicians from one of the world’s finest ensembles: The Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra.
- Unify through sight as well as sound.
- Don’t always follow conductors, but always pay attention to them.
- Be together rather than “right.”
- Don’t be too literal.
- Know your role.
- To sound in tune, play “out of tune together.”
Using easy-to-understand tools—proven to work in any type of conducted ensemble and by musicians at any level—Fountain and Verrier turn the traditional top-down ensemble training paradigm on its head.
They show how ensemble musicians, even when performing in large conducted groups, become most successful when entrusted to unify elements of the music through direct communication and collaboration with one another. As musicians shoulder this responsibility, they create a cohesive musical product that the conductor can respond to and influence.
The result is more engaged, effective, and satisfying music making for everyone.
Robin Fountain is Professor of Conducting at Vanderbilt University’s Blair School of Music. Thomas E. Verrier is Senior Band Conductor and Director of Wind Ensembles at Vanderbilt University’s Blair School of Music.