FAQ (frequently asked questions)
I would like to learn to play a period instrument but I do not have one in my possession. What do I do?
This is what the school is for. Each teacher is an expert in his or her own field and will be able to advise you on renting or buying an instrument. Because the school works regularly with suppliers on a wide basis, for certain instruments there is a general discount, so you can rent or even purchase one for very reasonable prices.
When the student is still experimenting with playing a period instrument and does not wish to commit to buying or renting one just yet, there is the option of starting to learn to play the period instrument while still playing on a modern instrument, or incorporating period elements. The student would then alternate with the teacher's period instrument during lessons for a trial period, and decide afterwards.
I would like to study harpsichord but do not have an instrument. Before I rent or buy one I need to decide whether it's right for me: how can the school assist?
We are aware that compared to other instruments, renting or purchasing a harpsichord is slightly more complicated. For this reason the school offers several venues in the centre of Amsterdam where you can book practice on a harpsichord or clavichord on a daily basis.
I play a period instrument. Is it possible to only attend ensemble classes in order to play with others (without having individual lessons)?
As part of school's policy, we are responsible for the progress of the students and for maintaining the level of our classes. Therefore, with regards to participation in ensemble class, every case is considered separately. An initial meeting with an instrumental teacher is always required, but afterwards it might be possible to join ensemble classes even as a visiting student, without taking additional instrumental lessons. We would usually try to conduct separate ensemble classes for visiting students, because regular students progress rapidly from week to week as they also work with their individual teacher.
In order to get the most out of your experience in the ensemble class, we would recommend that you also take individual instrumental lessons, where the teacher can assist with any technical difficulties or additional questions that arise, and can help you prepare for these classes. In some cases the teacher also visits or co-hosts an ensemble class in order to be involved and forward the student's progress.
What are period instruments? What is the difference between learning to play a period instrument and learning a modern instrument?
Period instruments are musical instruments common to specific historic periods, which are crafted based on treatises and historic evidence, in accordance with the same principles that guided craftsmen in those times
and using similar materials (inasmuch as possible).
Within the context of Renaissance and Baroque music, many changes occurred in the various musical instruments of these periods: some types were gradually phased out, while others were altered, for various reasons that mainly had to do with fashionable tastes and available materials, as well as demands stemming from new musical styles, repertoire and performance. These changes altered the unique look, sound and touch that characterized the original instruments.
Music from a specific period greatly benefits from being performed on historically accurate instruments. Once you play the repertoire on the instruments for which it was meant, it all makes perfect sense. You enjoy the unique sound, touch and beauty of the instrument. You understand how the instrument serves the music and how the music brings out the best from the instrument. It also becomes easier to understand the period's style.
What is Historically Informed Performance Practice [HIPP]?
HIPP is performance of repertoire from a certain period based upon knowledge of its musical style and aesthetic criteria, and using the corresponding period instruments. HIPP applies to various periods which include the Renaissance and Baroque. The research and application of past practices serves to gain a deeper understanding of the music, of what lies behind the notes on the page.