I love playing all kinds of music. Large ensembles, solos, new music, Romantic, Classical and of course chamber music. Small ensembles are great for a variety of reasons and here are just a few.
It seems that no matter what small instrument combination you have someone has written a piece for it. So whoever you decide to spend extended periods of time with playing music you will be able to find something. You can find a friend or a few and put together an ensemble. Make some cookies, choose who will host this round of rehearsal and start playing.
Sometimes practicing can be challenging but just like going to the gym is easier with a buddy so can practicing. If you have a set rehearsal then not only are you scheduling a practice together but you will be preparing for that rehearsal. It will help you keep a schedule going during times of fewer performances (like summer).
I have found some challenging chamber music over the years and you can too. You can use the Canadian Music Centre to search for your instrumentation and borrow or purchase music from them. I love getting a stack of music to read through, it can improve your sight reading too! Everyone has their strengths and weaknesses. Maybe a particular passage is very awkward on your instrument, here's a chance to make it sound easy.
Small ensembles are great to work on tuning. With only a few people to listen to you can really pinpoint which notes are out and get a good sense of where your instrument sits. You can also ask your ensemble members which notes tend to be out for them and work together to make everyone sound great!
Fewer people means fewer schedule conflicts. People are busy and it can be really hard to find a time that works well for everyone. With just a few people you have more opportunities.
I have learned so much from ensemble members about their instrument and what is challenging for them. Smaller ensembles let you ask questions that you don't get to ask in large ensembles. You can also get feedback if your dynamic is consistent throughout your registers, does this note stick out in this passage, is my tone consistent. You also learn a lot about a person when working in a small group like this.
What other benefits can you think of? Do you love/hate playing in small ensembles? Leave a comment!