Banana Blues - classroom ensemble (mixed ability)

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The Mixed Abilities School Ensemble Series

Children (and adults) who learn a musical instrument will always progress at different rates. Students also develop some of the many skills involved in instrumental playing faster than other skills.

The Mixed Abilities School Ensemble Series has the flexibility to allow pupils of different standards to play together in one ensemble (up to five parts). It also encourages students to develop improvisation skills by providing soloing opportunities within all parts, with suggested pitches for improvising.

Each piece has five different parts which are split into four ability levels as follows:

A – Range of about 5 notes, easy rhythms. B – Range of about 1 octave, basic rhythms. C – Range of about a 12th, some more difficult rhythms. D – Range of about 2 octaves, some rhythmic complexity.

This enables the teacher to select parts which are suitable for the standard of individual players in the group. As a general rule, the pieces have been composed as follows:

Part 1 – melody / countermelody (alternates with Part 2) Part 2 – melody / countermelody (alternates with Part 1) Part 3 – accompaniment (synchronises with Part 4) Part 4 – accompaniment (synchronises with Part 3) Part 5 – bass line (independent)

Each part also comes in a huge array of transpositions, clefs and pitches. Hence, almost any combination of instruments can play together in an ensemble of mixed abilities, including:

Flutes, clarinets, saxophones, mixed woodwind, trumpets, mixed brass (including brass band), violins, strings, keyboards/pianos, tuned percussion.

An ensemble using any combination of instruments (as is often found within schools) will work effectively as well.

Example: A quintet might be selected as follows:

1A (violin), 2C (trumpet), 3B (clarinet), 4B (tenor sax), 5D (trombone)

The melody in 1A would be very simple but would contrast nicely when passed to the more difficult 2C. Parts 3B and 4B will have quite a simple accompaniment between them, whilst the bass line on 5D will be more complex and rhythmically interesting. Parts can obviously be doubled up as well beyond five players.

Please note that the teacher of the ensemble should be careful to pick parts which are well-suited to the players’ abilities.

BANANA BLUES is the first piece in this series, and follows a traditional 12-bar blues form.

Please listen to the mp3 file, which is an electronic example of the piece being played by 3 trumpets, one trombone and one tuba, using parts 1C, 2B, 3B, 4A and 5C.

Score ID
Year of composition
Not applicable (e.g. worksheet)
3 minutes
School band
Classroom materials
Instrumental parts
Part 1A in Bb, Part 1A in Bb(Higher), Part 1A in C, Part 1A in C (Higher), Part 1A in Eb, Part 1A in Eb(Higher), Part 1B in Bb, Part 1B in Bb(Higher), Part 1B in C, Part 1B in C (Higher), Part 1B in Eb, Part 1B in Eb(Higher), Part 1C in Bb, Part 1C in Bb(Higher), Part 1C in C, Part 1C in C (Higher), Part 1C in Eb, Part 1D in Bb, Part 1D in Bb(Higher), Part 1D in C, Part 1D in C (Higher), Part 1D in Eb, Part 2A in Bb, Part 2A in Bb(Higher), Part 2A in C, Part 2A in C (Higher), Part 2A in Eb, Part 2A in Eb(Higher), Part 2B in Bb, Part 2B in Bb(Higher), Part 2B in C, Part 2B in C (Higher), Part 2B in Eb, Part 2B in Eb(Higher), Part 2C in Bb, Part 2C in Bb(Higher), Part 2C in C, Part 2C in C (Higher), Part 2C in Eb, Part 2C in Eb(Higher), Part 2D in Bb, Part 2D in Bb(Higher), Part 2D in C, Part 2D in C (Higher), Part 2D in Eb, Part 3A in Bb, Part 3A in Bb(Higher), Part 3A in C, Part 3A in C (Alto), Part 3A in C (Higher), Part 3A in Eb, Part 3A in Eb(Higher), Part 3A in F, Part 3B in Bb, Part 3B in Bb(Higher), Part 3B in C, Part 3B in C (Alto), Part 3B in C (Higher), Part 3B in Eb, Part 3B in Eb(Higher), Part 3B in F, Part 3C in Bb, Part 3C in Bb(Higher), Part 3C in C, Part 3C in C (Alto), Part 3C in C (Higher), Part 3C in Eb, Part 3C in Eb(Higher), Part 3C in F, Part 3D in Bb, Part 3D in Bb(Higher), Part 3D in C, Part 3D in C (Alto), Part 3D in C (Higher), Part 3D in Eb, Part 3D in Eb(Higher), Part 3D in F, Part 4A in Bb, Part 4A in Bb(Higher), Part 4A in C, Part 4A in C (Alto), Part 4A in C (Higher), Part 4A in Eb, Part 4A in Eb(Higher), Part 4A in F, Part 4B in Bb, Part 4B in Bb(Higher), Part 4B in C, Part 4B in C (Alto), Part 4B in C (Higher), Part 4B in Eb, Part 4B in Eb(Higher), Part 4B in F, Part 4C in Bb, Part 4C in Bb(Higher), Part 4C in C, Part 4C in C (Alto), Part 4C in C (Higher), Part 4C in Eb, Part 4C in Eb(Higher), Part 4C in F, Part 4D in Bb, Part 4D in Bb(Higher), Part 4D in C, Part 4D in C (Alto), Part 4D in C (Higher), Part 4D in Eb, Part 4D in Eb(Higher), Part 4D in F, Part 5A in Bb, Part 5A in Bb(Higher), Part 5A in C, Part 5A in C (Higher), Part 5A in Eb, Part 5A in G, Part 5B in Bb, Part 5B in Bb(Higher), Part 5B in C, Part 5B in C (Higher), Part 5B in Eb, Part 5B in G, Part 5C in Bb, Part 5C in Bb(Higher), Part 5C in C, Part 5C in C (Higher), Part 5C in Eb, Part 5C in G, Part 5D in Bb, Part 5D in Bb(Higher), Part 5D in C, Part 5D in C (Higher), Part 5D in Eb and Part 5D in G

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