5 Tips for Keeping Your Musical Ensemble Engaged

Does this scene look familiar?

If your musical ensemble started out like this at the beginning of the school year, hopefully you’ve found a way to encourage the Barneys of your group to be more in-tune. If your ensemble is still at the “Barney stage” (so to speak), rest assured, you’re not alone. There’s a large musical community at the ready to commiserate and offer potential solutions.

However, even if your groups have a few musically frustrating Barneys, it’s important to remember that, regardless of your performance level, engaged ensemble members are invaluable. Personal investment by members in a music program is one of the best ways for it to flourish.

So the question is: how do you encourage buy-in? Here are some suggestions.

Lead by example! If you’re enthusiastic and passionate about what you’re doing, chances are that your students will be, too!

Offer your groups small opportunities to “own” the ensemble or program. Whether that means opening up the floor to repertoire suggestions, creating elected or selected officer positions, putting members in charge of some publicity tasks, or whatever else you can think of to allow ensemble members to feel more like it is “theirs”—the members will want to protect it and see it grow.

Ask for, consider, and respond to feedback. There may be things you don’t realize could be improved.

Make it fun! Think outside the box when it comes to rehearsals and try new things. Go outside for a rehearsal (maybe one not in winter), do a group game that doubles as a focusing or energy activity, do something social—it doesn’t have to be music-specific. Ensemble building is just as important as the notes on the page.

Travel and perform! Take your ensembles to festivals, marching events, and other performance opportunities locally, domestically, and internationally! Students will appreciate and look forward to these opportunities to travel, but will also want to see these trips succeed. There’s no substitute for the bonding that occurs during trips like this.

What other ways do you encourage buy-in? Leave us a comment below to share your ideas!

Interested in traveling with your musical ensemble? Learn more about our WorldStrides OnStage programs.