Fascinating keyboard instruments

On Friday the 8th of October, a group of aspiring musicians ventured out into Lythe; their sole mission to learn about the fascinating keyboard instruments: the clavichord and the concert grand-piano. Used largely during the Baroque, Classical and Renaissance periods, the clavichord’s spell-binding music had our group in raptures as our guide played a Bach piece, the sound sweetly serenading our ears and lulling some into an awe-inspired trance. But our exploration of the clavichord didn’t end there, and upon walking through into another room, we were met with two more of the captivating instruments. Here we learnt about the making of the clavichord, with its intricately designed looks just as important as its pitch and tone. Some students even had a go playing on it themselves, filling the air with delicate tunes.

For me, however, the concert-grand piano was the highlight of the trip, standing regal-like in the centre of the hall. Once again, our guide entertained us by playing a lively jig, showing us the diversity of the instrument within his playing: soft and gentle one second, and then filling the room with a deep, rich sound the next. When the last resounding notes of applause died away, our host asked the question everyone had been waiting for, some in dread, some in excitement: ‘Do we have any pianists who would like to perform?’. One hand shot up straight away, and Skye bravely made her way to the piano, before performing an outstanding piece in front of the crowd. It seemed to have a magical effect on the group, and Olivia stepped up to play, and then Steph, and then another and another until everybody seemed to want a chance to perform. After the last notes faded, our attention was drawn to a professional piano tuner, who gave us a masterclass in her art. We even had a go ourselves, (although it could be debatable whether we left it more in tune than before) and I am sure many students have gone home in wonder at the level of intricacy needed for the job. With that, the trip was over, and as we headed back to school, more than once could the sound of someone humming Bach’s ‘Prelude and Fugue No. 1 in C Major’ be heard!

Thanks to our hosts at Lythe for sharing these fascinating keyboard instruments and giving us the wonderful opportunity to explore the past of the piano and to Mrs Swaine and Mr Instone for organising a trip that hit all the right notes (Ba dum tss).

Tomas, Year 11