Why Joining An Ensemble Could Change Your Life

Ensembles at Music Maker Workshops is something our local music studio is proud to provide.  Are you someone who likes playing their instrument? Do you like making music with other people? Do you feel like the school band is too dull, or too limiting? Well, Music Maker Workshops has a solution for you.
Joining an ensemble at MMW is one of the most exciting things you can do as an up and coming music student. But first, you might have some questions, and I am here to answer them.

What is an Ensemble and What it Means to Play in One?

An ensemble, or more specifically a ​musical​ ensemble, is a group of musicians who play music together. Plain and simple. Making music together can be one of the most joyous parts of music. There is something about synergizing and harmonizing with other people around you that can't be put into words. This type of connecting and communicating is unique to music and art, where we don't use our words to interact with others. Still, we use our abilities to express ourselves musically to do that. Playing in an ensemble allows you to take part in this most fundamental of musical phenomenons.

Now that I've defined what an ensemble means, it is essential to understand the different types of an ensemble that Music Maker has.

What kinds of Ensembles Do you Have?

The Rock Bands at MMW specialize in playing music that can generally be called rock music but also have played music from other styles, including funk, punk, pop, and more! In the Rock Bands, you will have a chance to rock out playing bass, guitar, drumset, keyboards, and singing with a variety of different songs and styles. You will also be participating in live performances around the valley each semester! Previous venues include Hard Rock Cafe, Good Time Charli's, Odysea Mainstage, Tempe Marketplace, and many more! Students should have a minimum of 2 years experience on their instrument before auditioning for a band.

Taught by a variety of MMW instructors, check out more info about Rock Bands here

- Jazz & Blues Band is where you can learn to play jazz, blues, funk, and more with an emphasis on improvising, soloing, and being creative! The Jazz & Blues Band currently has saxophone, trumpet, bass, guitar, piano, and drums; but can be expanded to include trombone, tenor saxophone, voice, and more! In the Jazz & Blues Band, we focus on creating an experience that is unique to MMW and stands apart from school jazz big bands, with an emphasis on more small group playing, learning to improvise, and real-world performance experience.

Taught by Alex Price and Emilio Vargas, check out more info about the Jazz & Blues Band here

The No Fret String Project is a strings group at MMW made up of violin, viola, cello, and upright bass students! ​No Fret String Project was born out of a need for string students to share their experiences of making music with other talented players. They get to learn classical, contemporary, and their favorite tunes.

The group is looking for more students and would love to have you! It is an excellent group for middle to high school age players. I know I always love hearing them play. No Fret currently performs at our bi-annual recitals and does community outreach performances in Ahwatukee and Phoenix.

Taught by Michael DiBarry, check out more info at our website here

Last but not least is our Drum Corps program! Our Drum Corps program is award-winning, providing an opportunity to learn marching music and belong to a group of like-minded musicians. Drum Corps is a great way to put your drumming skills to the test, travel around Ahwatukee and Phoenix marching and performing, and will also prepare you even more for when you make the jump to high school marching band! They are an award-winning group that marches in parades throughout the valley.

Led by Music Maker instructor, Devin Brown, DSDC is a great program to be in for aspiring drummers. No experience is necessary, for ages 8-18. Check out more info here

MMW is growing all the time and open to adding even more ensembles in the future! If you have an idea for an ensemble, whether it is a brass ensemble, a flute choir, a band that plays video game music, piano duets, or more, let your instructor or the front office know!

Why Should I Join?

Now you might be thinking that this all sounds great, but you might also be thinking that you're already super busy, or you don't know if you can commit to an ensemble, or any other completely valid reason. I hear you. Being a teacher and interacting with my students on a weekly and daily basis, I know how busy your lives tend to be.

Or you might be a parent, reading this and thinking that joining an ensemble will be just one more thing to worry about on an already busy schedule, or my kid is already taking lessons, and so on. Again I hear you.

But here's why it might ​change your whole musical life​...

Making Musical Connections & Making Memories

When I look back on why I became a musician and a teacher, I single out one year of my life as the entire reason that happened. And that year for me was my eighth-grade year; specifically the year I spent in the jazz band at my school. That year was particularly important because that December, my eighth-grade jazz band at Los Cerritos Middle School was selected to perform in the Midwest Clinic conference, held in Chicago. For those who don't know, that is one of the biggest band and orchestra conferences in the nation.  

Because of this, and that we needed the practice, a couple of us from the jazz band started getting together on the weekends and playing jazz music together, usually out of someone's garage. We had so much fun playing outside of school like this, and we grew so much quicker as musicians and people than we would have if we only played in school. This is where I fell in love with the community of music-making. 

This is the experience I wish for the students I teach in Jazz & Blues Band, and I'm sure the same can be said for the other ensembles). It is the experience of working hard at what we do. The joys of playing music with other people. The collaboration that drives me forward to this day as a professional musician and teacher.


New Opportunities

This can be the same experience that joining an ensemble at Music Maker Workshops can give you. Talk to your teacher or the friendly staff at MMW for more information about how to get involved!