If you’re feeling a bit frazzled by all the intense preparation to get ready for your upcoming exam or recital performance, then take some time out to play some of your pieces on the harpsichord. Not only will it give you a feel for the original instrument that most A List ABRSM pieces are written for, but it will give you a break from the piano!
Many students at the SE22 Piano School are combining their piano exams with harpsichord exams from the Victoria College of Music. There is a fantastic exam called the Bronze Medal where you play 4 pieces and answer some general theory questions. There is also a very easy piece of sight-reading so nothing to get too stressed about!
The few general theory questions are taken from this list:
Musical Terms (Italian words)
Intervals between notes (degrees of the scale)
If you are interested in this examination, then you can find some of the pieces in this excellent book by Maria Boxall. I have copies of the books for the other pieces that I can loan to you for the exam.
My favourite thing about the harpsichord is the scope for improvisation. Have a listen to the last Rameau piece. It’s a very simple tune but each section has a repeat and it is up to the performer to elaborate and ornament the repeat with their own interpretation. Classical music rarely never lets you do this kind of tinkering, but Baroque and Jazz music does let you improvise as you wish. Cool!
You can also try out all your pieces on various harpsichords at the next school trip on May 19th to Finchcocks Musical Museum.
Here are some Youtube clips of the pieces for the exam.
Lillibullero – Purcell
Funeral Music for Queen Mary:
Musette – Bach
Bourbonoise – Couperin
Handel – Impertinence
Rameau – Menuet in Am
Here’s Merlin with his Grade 2 Harpsichord certificate. It must be said that Victoria College have the best certificates! You even get a medal with this exam if you meet the required mark!