Five effective rehearsal strategies for ensembles

Monte Mumford gives tips for managing a rehearsal



Esteemed music educator Monte Mumford is teaming up with the Melbourne Youth Orchestras to teach effective rehearsal strategies. In light of this course, he tells CutCommon readers how to understand the value in a rehearsal, why it’s important to implement strategy, and how to respect the progress and achievements of ensembles. Check out Monte’s advice for a successful rehearsal, which could help you lead your student orchestra or ensemble.



1. Practice effectively outside your rehearsal

Educationally based rehearsal plans employ practical examples on how students can effectively prepare their individual parts successfully outside rehearsal. Rehearsals work best when the practice strategies presented have been proven successful through practical application during rehearsals; when members perceive the rewards achieved in rehearsals are worthy of the investment in personal practice.

2. Consider the level you’re aiming for

Rehearsals should introduce and reinforce expressive performance skills through exposure to quality repertoire and teaching materials, matched to the appropriate skill level of the ensemble.

3. Learning is its own reward

Rehearsal planning should provide for the successful transfer of ‘individual learning ownership’ into students’ hands. This is done through the introduction and nurturing of intrinsic, self-evaluation that ultimately results in personal rewards achieved from connecting the technical/musical study material to specific performance challenges.

4. All about balance

It is generally accepted that 70 per cent of rehearsal time should be spent on interpretation, with the other 30 per cent being used for the mastery and application of technical demands found in the repertoire under consideration. If one finds that they are spending too much time on trying to overcome technical challenges of a specific work, either it is too difficult or the ensemble lacks the technique to meet its musical challenges.

5. The concert is not just a destination

And finally, if one agrees that educational ensembles ought to give concerts because they rehearse, then concerts, or the performance of substantial repertoire, should never function as ultimate rehearsal destinations. Concerts should function as the necessary laboratory experience that provides opportunities to connect and reinforce the training regime, materials and mental focus necessary for producing and experiencing satisfying, rewarding musical performance.


Learn more about Monte’s course on the Melbourne Youth Orchestra website.

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