What's the difference between piano & harpsichord?
Basically, a piano hits the strings with hammers, and a harpsichord plucks the strings with plectra. The keyboard layout is the same as the piano, but that's pretty much where the similarities stop. Harpsichords are made entirely from wood and come with different specifications, depending on the instrument. Ours is a single manual (keyboard) instrument with 2x8' sets of strings and 1x4'. It also has a device for making it sound like a lute too!
Why learn harpsichord instead of piano?
Good question! Apart from the fact that the harpsichord is so much cooler than other keyboard instruments, it sounds totally different. Composers of the Renaissance and Baroque didn't write for the piano as it hadn't been invented, so if you want to know how the music of Byrd or Bach sounded to the audiences of the day, you need to hear it on a harpsichord. Ever heard of Francois Couperin, Louis Marchand, Orlando Gibbons or Dietrich Buxtehude? Probably not, because there is a whole world of music written specifically for the harpsichord that piano teachers never go near. Harpsichordists also develop quite different skill sets to pianists - for example improvisation or reading figured bass. There's not many people out there who can read figured bass! If you're studying GCSE or A Level music, harpsichord lessons will give you a huge advantage with harmony and counterpoint!
But I don't own a harpsichord - how do I practice?
Another good point, and I'm working on that. I currently have one harpsichord, but I'm raising money to buy a second. You will soon be able to book practice time via this website on an instrument in the same premises as my studio. So while you work out if harpsichord is the instrument for you, and while you raise the cash to buy your own (and decide which pieces of furniture will have to go in the garden to make space for it in the house), you can practice here - and at no extra charge!
Is it expensive?
Not really. Harpsichord lessons are quite specialised, so I charge slightly more than piano lessons, but I believe it is still outstanding value for money. As the only harpsichord teacher in the North East, it would be very easy to overcharge, but I am passionate about the harpsichord and I want everyone to have the opportunity to learn this incredible instrument - which is why I provide a complete service with a practice instrument included. I can also point young people in the direction of organisations who may consider funding or supporting your musical education, so nobody misses out!