Groove Machine: Orchestration

Photo courtesy of New World Symphony


Audience will be introduced to different instruments of the orchestra in a seamless, groove based fashion.


To dynamically introduce different instruments of the orchestra, a groove will be built, one instrument joining at a time.


  1. Identify a piece on your program with a groove and/or interesting rhythms.
  2. Vamp or stagger each entrance of a new part of the groove to introduce a new instrument.

Audience Type

What does this activity look like in action?

Example Script:

Piece: Valerie Coleman – Umoja (version for wind quintet)

Performer: The next piece we are going to play is an incredibly fun piece called Umoja, written by composer Valerie Coleman. The word Umoja is the Swahili word for “Unity.” Coleman wanted this piece to have a feeling of coming together, like in a drum circle. Rhythms and melodies are passed from one instrument to the next. One instrument family we haven’t spoken about yet is the woodwind family, which, in our concert today, is made up of flutes, oboes, clarinets, and bassoons. We can hear each of these woodwind instruments as they enter to create a really fun groove to open Umoja.


First up is the clarinet!


Clarinet starts their ostinato [vamp 8 bars]


[after 4 bars] – Next, the oboe!


Oboe begins [vamp with clarinet 8 bars]


Let’s hear the flute!


Flute enters, clarinet moves to bar 4 vamp [repeat mm. 5-8]


And last but definitely not least, the bassoon!


Bassoon enters with their ostinato. [repeat bars 9-12]


Now that we’ve heard from each member of the woodwind family, let’s add in the rest of the orchestra. Keep your eyes and ears open for every time that a woodwind instrument adds their voice in our performance of Valerie Coleman’s Umoja.


(This piece naturally staggers the entrance in the groove (other than clarinet and oboe). For pieces that don’t, consider staggering entrances to build from the least complicated elements, to the most).


  • Can start a concert/segment without speaking, Simply dive into the groove and let each new texture speak for itself.
  • For higher interactivity: Have the audience participate in the groove, whether by singing along, or clapping along. (Teach the part you wish them to join on and guide them through it). See “Groove Machine” for building a groove.

Create interactive performances. We have activities to help you connect with your audiences.