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Beginner Ensemble

Our Ensemble for Newer Players! 
The NYLSO Ensemble Workshop is a small-group ensemble that began in Spring of 2014. The group is structured to help near-beginner to lower-intermediate level players develop group-playing ensemble and real-time music-reading skills. Most participants have taken lessons, but have little or no previous experience playing in a group. Sessions are held Sundays at 2:00 and are structured to accommodate those who play in the larger NYLSO Orchestra and others who prefer a second hour of small-group coaching.

The first hour, from 2:00 to 3:00 is a larger group, usually between 8 and 12 players.  In this first hour we focus on playing through as many of our pieces as we have time for, emphasizing balance and a cohesive ensemble sound.  At three, players who are also members of the Orchestra depart. The remaining smaller group continues to play through the selections, but with additional focus on basic skills such as bowing, intonation, key-awareness, and left-hand technique.  In this smaller second-hour group there’s time for more individualized attention and close work.


Ron Sharpe, an experienced NYLSO member, serves as group facilitator and coach.  Since the focus is on developing organic ensemble playing, this group functions without a conductor.

Drop-ins are always welcome, but since this is a skills-building group, consistent participation is encouraged. Workshop participants are encouraged to check out the full NYLSO Orchestra as well.  Some people begin playing with the Ensemble Workshop and “graduate” to playing the more involved and challenging repertoire of the Orchestra, while many continue to participate in both groups indefinitely because the Ensemble is just that much fun!


Cost for the Ensemble Workshop is $10 per hour.

Occasionally, the Orchestra and the Ensemble will play a shared selection at our Open Rehearsal. When this is the case, the Ensemble participants will be invited to join the NYLSO Orchestra to work on the shared selection together for a few sessions before performance. 



Mount Sinai Beth Israel

10 Union Square East (At 4th Ave) -Second Floor

at Lobby

New York, NY

Location subject to change. Please email us if it is your first time.


Group Goals:

  • To improve our music reading skills: to advance toward basic sight-reading skills.

  • To develop ensemble: to learn to listen to the whole group; keep tempo together without a conductor; bow in unison. 

  • To improve intonation: listen and know when we're off pitch, know whether we're sharp or flat, and how to correct.


What it’s not:

  • It’s not a string lesson: although we focus on improving our technique, the Ensemble does not function as a group lesson. Participants should already know the basics of how to play their instruments.        

  • It’s not a music lesson: Participants will need basic music reading ability, know the notes and be able to count rhythm. 


Who it’s for:

  • Relatively new or returning players who are not sure whether they are ready to join a larger orchestra

  • Players who want to improve reading and listening skills, with or without the goal to move into the full NYLSO Orchestra in the future

  • Active NYLSO members who want to improve reading and listening skills and/or warm up for 3:00 rehearsal


What we’ll play: 

  • Specially arranged short pieces with a variety of difficulty levels (all easy or moderately easy)

  • We will generally focus on three to six pieces each cycle

  • New pieces are introduced at the beginning of each cycle

  • Often, one or more of the pieces is a shared selection which both the NYLSO Orchestra and the Ensemble Workshop will both be working on during the same cycle

Oh, and that weird thing about our music…

Unlike regular orchestral parts, the Ensemble music is arranged showing all four parts on the same page—violin 1, violin 2, viola, and cello/bass (like choral music).  Each line is also arranged and transposed so that any instrument can play any line. This way everyone can see what everyone else is playing and can see the way the harmonies go together.  In addition we can shuffle around who plays what line.


Isn’t that confusing?

Not really.  We find this arrangement actually helps players listen more deeply, and hear not just the notes in their own part but the music as a whole. This, in turn, helps improve intonation, musical cohesion, and rhythm. In addition, it allows us to play in full part harmony no matter which instruments are represented on any given day.

We invite you to visit our group and give us a try!

Email us at if you think this group might be for you and please pass this on to anyone you think may be interested.

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