This is my second year of teaching mixed ability, mixed age, mixed experience keyboard ensembles. There is a long history behind these groups, which is lost in the mists of time.
The situation at the moment is that there are around 13-15 on the register, who usually turn up, and range in ability from “this is my first day and I’ve never played any instrument before” to “I’ve been having individual lessons for four years”. They also range in age from 5 (yes, 5 years old!) to 15 (yes, 15 years old!)
As you can imagine, it is an “interesting” group to manage. A friend of mine once commented that music, and maybe chess, were perhaps the only activities where all ages could take part without an appreciable handicap of age. A mixed ensemble makes it possible for the abilities to be very varied as well…
I plan to start this term with La Cucaracha:
So, the children who arrive, never having touched a keyboard in their lives before, should be able to manage the bottom line. The ones who have been coming for a term or so, but have nearly forgotten how to read music, will manage the middle line (some tricky counting to keep them busy), and the others can get to grips with a dotted crotchet, counting the rhythm, and change of hand position and a pesky little B flat.
I’ve a couple more ensembles along this line. This would work as is for clarinets, and you could move it into D major for your violin/mixed string ensemble class. (It’s a nice little ukulele piece too; just F and C7 chords)