Ensemble playing allows young musicians to practise a huge number of skills, some of which simply cannot be achieved playing as an individual. When practising alone at home, it’s all too easy to slow down or stop at a tricky section and speed up again once the obstacle is passed. But by playing in a group, young musicians learn to keep going, they learn to listen and become more aware of other musical lines around their own, their performance becomes more flexible, sight-reading improves in leaps and bounds, and they learn to work as part of a team. Youngsters learn from each other, working together they make firm friends and once they’ve added their own individual sound to a group and hear the volume of 30-40 instruments come back – they inevitably catch the ensemble playing “bug”! The knock-on effect is increased confidence, stage presence and a huge sense of achievement. Such vital foundation work is carried out in the smaller CWYM ensembles, the Wessex Starter Strings, Wessex Middle Strings and the Wessex Junior Fanfare, Wessex Youth Fanfare and Wessex Young Apprentices Orchestra.