Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What’s an ensemble?
A: One player is a soloist, two a duo, three a trio, four a quartet, five a quintet. Usually more players than that are simply called an ensemble. Several different types of instruments can be included. Most ensemble arrangements feature single notes in each part, with each player, or groups of players, playing different notes, often in different rhythms. Some arrangements include a chords part.
Q: What’s a ukestra?
A: A ukestra, or ukulele orchestra, is a large ensemble of ukulele players playing in two or more parts.
Q: I’m a beginner. Can I play ensemble music?
A: If you can read standard music notation or tablature numbers, you’re off to a good start. Knowing the basic 8 notes of a C scale—CDEFGABC—or the scale + sharps and flats = 12 notes—would be helpful. Some ensemble arrangements include a part with chords.
Q: How many parts are in each arrangement?
A: An ensemble arrangement has at least two parts, with an average of four parts. A baritone ukulele or bass adds depth. Usually the parts are designed for several skill levels, from confident beginner to advanced player. The description of each piece shows how many parts there are, and the skill level.
Q: What types of music are arranged for ensemble?
A: Any type of music, from simple rounds to swing, to rock ‘n’ roll, to country, to classical. The sense of humor in music from the ragtime era has a particular appeal.
Q: Who wrote the arrangements offered on this website?
A: Nancy Piver wrote all of the arrangements, which have been played by ensembles of various sizes.
Q: Do I need to read standard music notation?
A: Reading music is not a requirement, but very helpful, as standard notation carries all the information needed to play music effectively. The notes show the rhythm and how the note should be played. All arrangements include tablature (tab), also.
Q: Do I need to read tablature?
A: Reading tablature is not necessary; the tab numbers can be helpful with figuring out where on the fretboard to play the note, which in turn helps to figure out fingering. All arrangements include standard music notation, also.
Q: I play by ear. How can I learn to play ensemble arrangements?
A: The MP3 audio files included with these arrangements will be helpful. The melody is the easiest part to learn by ear. Some of the MP3s emphasize each part, with the ensemble in the background.
Q: Can I share the music with friends?
A: These arrangements are meant to be played only by the ensemble that has purchased the music. Copies can be made for as many players as are in the ensemble. Do not share the music outside your ensemble.
Q: Is a conductor needed to lead an ensemble?
A: Small ensembles—two to eight people—can develop listening skills that enable them to play well together. A player with a good sense of rhythm would be a natural leader, whether gesturing with head bobbing or other body language. Larger groups need someone to conduct, perhaps with a baton.