Alanna attended the Finchcocks Open Day for Young Pianistslast Summer and played her Grade 8 pieces in the masterclasses. I asked Alanna to write a review of the event so that our students can find out more about the day:
“I visited Finchcocks Musical Museum last summer for one of the open days. It was very exciting. The building is very grand and beautiful. There are so many different musical instruments like harpsichords and fortepianos there and some are very very old. We were allowed to walk around and look at the instruments and we could play most of them too.
It was amazing how different the instruments were from the different periods. I had only heard about some of the instruments from the internet so being able to see them and play them was nice.
I played one of my Mozart pieces called Rondo in D and I got to play it on a fortepiano like Mozart did. Being able to play my piece on one of the instruments Mozart would have used was really interesting. It felt funny playing the pedals with my knees and I got a bit confused because of the tuning of the fortepiano. The touch and dynamics of Mozart’s instrument are also different from the modern piano and being able to play on the fortepiano really helped me understand how to change my playing on the modern piano so the piece would sound more like Mozart might have played it.
There was a man called Gary there who was really nice and he talked about the tuning of the instruments and he played the same piece on different instruments so that we could hear the changes in the sound of the different instruments. Gary explained it so well that I was able to talk about the changes in the keyboard instruments in my exam.
At the end Gary invited me to play my Mozart piece in the concert on a more modern piano and that was lots of fun.”
Have you visited Finchcocks Musical Museum? It is a treasure trove of historic pianos, fortepianos, clavichords, organs, virginals, muselars, harpsichords and more. The collection is owned by Katrina and Richard Burnett and housed in a Georgian Manor House in Goudhurst, not far from Tunbridge Wells in Kent. The beauty of the collection is that anyone that is musically inclined can visit on an Open Day and play the instruments. In addition to this, the Museum offers two Open Days led by Gary Branch of the Educational Team in October. One day is for under 18s and many of our students have visited each year and have been delighted to be able to play their repertoire on the instruments for which it was originally written.
The day starts with coffee in the cellar restaurant and time to meet your fellow musicians. Then there is an introduction to the wide range of keyboard instruments in the collection and demonstrations from the Educational Team.
At the time of application, you choose two pieces that you would like to perform. The large group then separates into smaller numbers for masterclasses on instruments appropriate to your repertoire. The first year I attended, I brought a piece by Handel that I played to Jean Phillips on the Antunes harpsichord; followed by a piece by Haydn with Gary Branch on the fortepiano.
There is also the chance to observe one other masterclass as well as try out instruments in the house in your own time. A delicious lunch is also available to purchase in the Cellar Restaurant. The day concludes with an informal performance by selected participants. I can guarantee you will leave with a desire to return as soon as possible! Booking is now open for the October Open Days. Please visit the links below to book your place:
We spent a very enjoyable day at Finchcocks Musical Museum in Goudhurst, Kent playing the historical instruments under the expert tuition of Gary Branch, Steven Devine and Jean Phillips. The event takes place yearly and is called the Open Day for Pianists. There are separate events for younger students as well.