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Playing The Flute in Ensembles

It is not always possible to just play as a solo artist. Sometimes, you may have to play in an ensemble. These ensembles can range from a duet, to a full blown orchestra. One may think that playing is just playing and there is no adjustment depending on the ensemble, but they are wrong. There is a major difference between playing in a duet and playing in a band, for example.

Playing in Small Ensembles

Small Ensembles can be fun to do, especially if you have partners that you love to work with. How does one play with only a few other players though? Do you have to be extremely loud, or does playing quietly suffice?

Since there is only a few people, it is definitely not necessary to be extremely loud. In fact, when playing in a small ensemble, it is even more important to follow dynamics as they are more exposed. Another thing to remember as well is to play very blended. When there are only a few players playing the same instrument, it is important that you sound as one.

Playing in a Concert Band

Flutes are one of the most important instruments in a concert band. They are very distinct in their sound as most often carry the melody. Flutes can be very covered up by other instruments, like a trumpet, so it is important to get your sound out there, but not so much that you crack.

It is also important to use a very natural vibrato in slow songs, unless stated otherwise by your director or the composer in the music.

Playing in an Orchestra

This can be a moment-making experience in a flutists career as many strive to participate in a full orchestra. These are quite hard to get into because of the small number or flutes that they require, which is usually 3 or 4 and sometimes 5. This is an ensemble that you have to play loud in, since there are probably going to be 50-60 string players that you need to get past.

As my orchestra teacher said, “A piano in orchestra = a forte in band.” What she is saying by this, is that you need to play extremely loud in an orchestra.

In conclusion,

Always use your discretion when you are playing in an ensemble, and always be willing to change how you play.

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