Although nowadays I play solo most of the time, I love to join with other musicians in ensembles when I can, and have a series of different groups planned throughout the rest of this year: church worship team, acoustic duets, trios, quartets, even an Old-Time/Celtic sextet!  If you play with other musicians, you need to make many decisions about how each player’s role fits into the overall picture.

I as an improviser tend to look for ways I can come up with special countermelodies and textural enhancements --- as well as creative, meaningful interpretations of the melody when it’s my turn to play lead, or improvisational breaks when called for.

A number of years ago I “brainstormed” a list of topics to consider when you’re a part of a musical ensemble.  Here it is for your consideration and use:

I. Goals

II. Music genres

II. Audience

IV. Keys

V. Moving through time

Speed issues:



Phrasing: notes as parts of sentences

VI. Various other arrangement choices


Place allowed for virtuosity, personality

Place allowed for improvisation



Exchangeability among ensembles: Common repertoire and ideas that trios, duets, etc. of colleagues can adapt



Time allowed for rehearsal



Textures to blend:



Varying melody

Accompaniment parts:

Cues: Beginning, middle, end

VII. Repertoire choices

VIII. Performance choices


Background music

Venue acoustics

Sound systems

...Perhaps a glance over this list will bring an idea to your mind that will be a help for whatever setting you’re a part of.  In some ways this is pretty comprehensive, but in other ways this contains just germs of ideas about part of each topic.  Use it as you will.  Blessings on your music-making!