Easy Ensemble Music in the Classroom

An exciting aspect of music teaching is that of introducing diverse people to a shared heritage that each can enjoy and recreate in their own way! Thus, one of the first resources I wanted to make available when I set up the Full Pitcher website was a collection of arrangements that had enabled me to facilitate music groups made up of players of hugely different musical and technical skills, where the composition of a group was subject to change from week to week. Although the basic arrangements stayed the same, parts were frequently customised to the needs of individuals. The core arrangements I made available as Easy/Classroom Ensembles and Flexible Ensembles. For the website, many easy pieces were standardised to meet the needs of classes at Key stages 2 an 3. In my own sessions, group members, who were able to do so, were given the freedom to elaborate their parts, or I adapted them, and I frequently introduced improvisational activities which allowed everyone to contribute at their own level. Ideas for this kind of creative work with beginners  can be downloaded from the Easy/Classroom Ensembles page.

For the first few years, sheet music downloads were in the format of Sibelius ‘Scorch’ files, which meant that users could preview the written music and could transpose parts to any key before downloading. This had all the flexibility I wanted to offer but proved prohibitively expensive to run!  It also meant peoples had to install special software and many found it confusing. I came to actually dread selling a score, anticipating the support that might be required! In 2006, I moved the site to a new hosting platform, where I could make the playback available in Flash audio, which is compatible with the vast majority of browsers and could sell PDF sheet music downloads. It isn’t currently practicable, or economically sensible, to offer parts in every transposition but, if what you need is not available on-site, the custom-print service will make a custom set of parts available at very reasonable cost. Printed Packs for the classroom ensembles, with multiple copies of parts for C, Bb and Eb instruments can be found at Packs: Easy/Classroom Ensembles

Happily, few teachers will have to cope with the the enormous range of ability and floating populations that characterised my community workshops, but all could surely benefit from having a few really flexible pieces up their sleeve for when things don’t go to plan! :>)