UW Instrumental Chamber Ensemble Syllabus

Course Number: 1460-02 or 1560-02
Credits: 1

PHONE: 970.988.3838
EMAIL:  jjohn169@uwyo.edu

Time: TBA
Location: Trailer #3

UW Student Brass Quintet Material
UW Student Wind Quintet Material
UW Horn Ensemble Material


Instructor Grade – 50%
Rehearsal Attendance (2 rehearsals/week, one with me) – 20%
Ensemble Routine Development – 10%
Musical and Personal Progression – 30%
Final Assessment – 50%
Convocation Presentation – 20%
Holiday or Educational Outreach Concert – 20%
Speaking/Research Demonstration – 10%


The purpose as a chamber ensemble is to increase your individual musicianship and also offer your talents to something larger than yourself. You have decided to take part in this ensemble; therefore, you are solely responsible for the success of this ensemble. Your part is a solo/individual part and the ensemble can not function without your input. You and your fellow musicians will hold you accountable and success can only be found with an equal group effort.

OBJECTIVE: The objective of a student ensemble at the University of Wyoming is to showcase the best the Instrumental Area has to offer in the chamber music realm. It should be your goal to continually pursue music that is incredibly challenging as an individual and as an ensemble. You are expected to treat this ensemble as a priority because of what it has to offer you as an individual musician.

GOALS: You will best decide what it is you need to accomplish together. It is extremely important for you to check your ego at the door and be able to take a lot of instruction from not only your coach but also your fellow musicians. It is equally important for you to be able to recognize when something is not a proper musical moment and be able to properly articulate the problem. I will provide as much as I can to guide you towards a competition level ensemble which will require a lot of basic, mechanical, and technical instruction. Here are some things we will go over:

Group Warm up

It is essential that you learn how to properly play as an ensemble.  During this time you will be taught what to listen for and how to communicate with your peers.   

Scalar Exercises:

(1) Major Scale, similar voicing, one octave with drone, slowly.

  • What did you hear?
  • Where are your 3rds, 5ths, 6ths, etc…?
  • Are all of you lowering/raising pitches accurately and equally?
  • How was your pitch? How were the others?

(2) Same Major Scale without drone.

  • Ask yourself the same questions.

(3) Different Major Scale separated by several octaves with drone.

(4) Same without drone.

(5) Play a third Major Scale in 3rds or 4ths with drone

(6) Again, without.

Always listen to yourself AND the group interpretation of intonation. What can you do to help improve the situation?

Create an Ensemble Sound

You will be provided several tunes that are considered “classic” in the chamber music repertoire.  In order for you to best learn a new tune it is very important for you to tackle it individually rather than just relying on ensemble time.


YouTube, Spotify, and Naxos are fantastic tools you will need to be accustomed to using.  There are thousands of recordings of chamber repertoire and it is important for you to expose yourself to different approaches to the same piece of music

Rehearsal Technique

It is important to apply what you learn and accomplish during your warm up to the repertoire you attempt to play.


For brass groups I will provide you a set of Bach Chorales edited by the Meridian Arts Ensemble.  You will do these every time you meet.  For your ensemble to have a cohesive sound it is in your best interest to play music by the pioneer of Western Music.  it can always be better… keep striving to play these as musically as possible while also attempting them if different ways (dynamic modulation, following an individual’s musical interpretation, etc…). There are several other Bach Chorale arrangements online. Research a version for your particular instrumentation.

Present a Product

You will be “required” to play on at least one Convo per semester at UW.  You will also be required to perform, once per semester, somewhere off campus.


One of the greatest opportunities you have while playing in a chamber ensemble is the opportunity to display what you have to offer which requires strong verbal communication skills. Each one of you will complete research on a particular piece you are presenting and verbally communicate your findings in recital setting. These “orations” can be as little as 30 seconds or up to 4 minutes in length depending on what it is you want your audience to know about the piece. It is not enough for you to just sit down and play your tune. You MUST educate your audience in order for them to become continuously interested in what you do as an ensemble. This is how you develop a following.


Once the ensemble is functioning properly you will be asked to travel to local middle and high schools to present your talents and “recruit” on behalf of the University of Wyoming. These shows are generally a lot of fun because you are presenting something these students rarely, if ever, see.


College of Arts and Sciences Guidelines for Students and Teachers Working Together:

http://www.uwyo.edu/AS/_files/current/Students%20and%20Teachers%20Working%20Together.pdf.  This useful set of guidelines was written by a faculty and student committee.  It is a concise attempt to inform students of instructor expectations as well as what students may expect of teachers and advisors.

Academic Honesty:

The University of Wyoming is built upon a strong foundation of integrity, respect and trust. All members of the university community have a responsibility to be honest and the right to expect honesty from others. Any form of academic dishonesty is unacceptable to our community and will not be tolerated. Teachers and students should report suspected violations of standards of academic honesty to the instructor, department head, or dean. Other University regulations can be found at: http://www.uwyo.edu/generalcounsel/

 Disability Statement:

If you have a physical, learning, or psychological disability and require accommodations, please let the instructor know as soon as possible. You must register with, and provide documentation of your disability to University Disability Support Services in SEO, room 330 Knight Hall, 307.776.6189, TTY: 307.766.3073.

Accommodations for Students with Disabilities:

In compliance with the UWYO policy and equal access laws, appropriate academic accommodations that may be required for students with disabilities can be discussed with the instructor. Note that accommodations will not be granted without appropriate written documentation.  Upon entrance to the course, students are encouraged to register with the Officer for Student Disabilities to verify their eligibility.

College of Arts and Sciences Attendance/Participation Policy:

University sponsored absences are cleared through the Office of Student Life (OSL). Students with official authorized absences shall be permitted to make up work without penalty in classes missed.  The Office of Student Life may also be able to confirm the validity of the student’s reasons for absences such as deaths in the family or road closures that prevented the student from getting to a class or contacting the instructor in a timely manner. Refer the student to the OSL for this. The A&S Dean’s office does not provide authorizations for student absences.  Refer to UW Regulation 6-713

Early Alert
In late September, you can view a progress report in WYOWEB for your classes. When you click on the Students tab in WYOWEB, you will see Quick Links on the left side bar, go to EARLY ALERT grades. You will see either a P for pass, or a D or F grade for each of your courses. If you have withdrawn from the class you will see a W. Be sure to talk to your instructor if you have a D or F grade. Remember, this is a progress report—not a final grade! This is an ideal time to visit with your instructor and/or your advisor to talk about your options and avenues for support in the class (call 766-2398 for the Center for Advising & Career Services).

New Tutor Center!
The STEP Tutor Center in Coe Library offers free evening tutoring for nearly 40 courses. Visit Coe Library between 6:00-10:00pm (Sun. – Thurs.) and visit the STEP website for full details about tutoring opportunities and other UW resources: www.uwyo.edu/STEP.