Ensemble Performance

A mentoring session with RWCMD’s Chamber-Ensemble-in-Residence, The Gould Piano Trio

Ensemble performance plays a prominent role in the training and assessment of singers and instrumentalist at RWCMD. Every instrumentalist is a member of at least one group and the College provides regular coaching with specialists and visiting ensembles. The College also promotes a mentoring approach, with leading professionals sitting in and playing with student ensembles.

“Mentoring from within a group as one of the players is, for me, the most rewarding and interesting way of working with students on a piece of chamber music. They are learning by example how attention to detail and love for the music results in the performance coming to life. These things are much harder to communicate with the spoken word.”                                                       Marcia Crayford, Visiting Tutor in Violin

Right from the beginning of their training, the College provides opportunities for all instrumentalists and singers to explore ensemble repertoire and work in different combinations. The academic year starts with a two-week ‘immersion period’ during which students of all music disciplines focus on collaborative performance.

“The aim is that new students immediately start to understand the importance and the benefits of playing in an ensemble. They learn technique, they learn about working with and reacting to others – all skills that are essential to any musician. In a small group, there’s nowhere to hide. It’s the best training – good chamber music performers make the best orchestral players.”
Simon Jones, Head of String Performance

There are many and frequent opportunities for students to gain experience of working with other musicians and to develop the full range of collaborative skills essential for their professional development. Ensemble opportunities include: piano trios, string quartets, brass quintets and wind octets to percussion ensembles, period instrument groups, chamber choirs, jazz ensembles, brass bands and wind orchestra.

“Working in smaller groups gives you the opportunity to really explore how a chamber ensemble functions, and really get to know a composition inside out. Apart from helping you develop technically in terms of intonation, and musically with harmonic understanding, it can also help you personally in understanding how to be sensitive to other people’s ideas and thoughts. And you can create great friendships along the way.”
Elizabeth French, MMus Graduate

Coaching and mentoring is often focussed around performance opportunities. These range from popular weekly performances running throughout the year in the College’s stunning foyer space to the annual chamber music festival featuring student groups in a programme that also includes recitals by international artists.

A thriving outreach programme enables small ensembles to gain additional experience of delivering workshops in schools and community settings.

The most successful student ensembles can also secure bookings at corporate events and private functions through the College’s Hire a Performer scheme.

“You’d never get this many opportunities if you weren’t playing in a group. It’s like running a small business and that prepares you for life after College.”
Tom Taffinder, MMus Graduate