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Context is Everything

Updated: Jan 17



I am a firm believer in context when it comes to any piece of music – to me, context is everything, and is something which music teachers must place on the same level as technique and musicianship. My contextual approach is based on my training in historical performance – although at this point I must stress that context and historical verisimilitude are not one and the the same thing.

Therefore, despite my speciality being the performance of music from the early 17th, 18th, and early 19th centuries on period instruments and period instrument reproductions, when looking at any piece of music I am initially less concerned with finding the ‘right’ instrument and more concerned with thoroughly contextualising the music in question – with the most important consideration being that rhetorical dialects and grammars from the past are vastly different to our own – because at the end of the day one must realise that, short of time travel, we can never be fully ‘authentic’, but we can certainly be historically informed.

This thorough contextual approach – which lies at the core of my teaching and which I advocate alongside having a foolproof technique and solid musicianship (a 'triple threat' approach which also has its roots in the musical training of the distant past) – is intended to challenge students in a manner that encourages regular paradigm shifts, thus ensuring significant long-term development.

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