Instrumental Activities

A musician has several options when looking for an instrumental activity. Large and small ensembles can fit the needs of various types of music. Instrumentalists should select groups that meet their needs and will provide the training and experience necessary to succeed as a musician. Playing in more than one type of ensemble will help an instrumentalist to become more diverse.

Chamber Music

Chamber music groups are available for instrumentalists who want to play in a small group. These groups could range from an instrumental duet to a brass choir. Chamber music provides more intimate music with a smaller sound. String quartets, woodwind quartets, piano trios, brass quartets and quintets are all chamber ensembles.


When instrumentalists think about playing in a large instrumental activity, the orchestra most commonly comes to mind. These groups command large forces of instrumentalists to play symphonies, concertos and even oratorios. It takes a certain amount of skill to gain entrance to an orchestra, but the benefits are well worth the effort. Orchestras use instruments from all major instrument sections including woodwinds, brass, strings, percussion and keyboards. Some orchestras will even bring in choral groups for select works.

Wind Ensemble

The wind ensemble is an orchestra without the strings. To make up for the lack of strings, they add saxophones, additional flutes, oboe, bassoons and brass players. The percussion section in a wind ensemble is particularly strong. Many Hollywood films, such as "The Matrix," have used wind ensembles for the musical score. These ensembles have a powerful and robust sound ideal for dramatic and highly emotional music.

Jazz Band

The jazz band is a smaller ensemble that consists of piano, marimba, drum set, trumpets, trombones and saxophones that create a compact and highly versatile group. Jazz bands will often play blues music as well as common jazz tunes. These groups require highly capable players who have the ability to improvise on the spot and understand chord changes written into the music.


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