Disciplines taught

Our educational offering is exceptionally diverse. Each of our teachers has crafted a personalized teaching program that accurately mirrors the breadth and significance of their perspectives.
All our courses operate in symbiosis with one another: we are committed to constructing numerous bridges between disciplines to provide the most extensive and enriching teaching experience possible.

Teaching the harpsichord is both intricate and captivating. The subject matter is incredibly expansive, and the necessary skills are numerous, ranging from solo playing and ensemble participation to improvisation across a wide array of styles. Additionally, there's the consideration of tuning and adjustment, adding further complexity to the discipline.

Due to its exceptional rhythmic clarity and precise tuning, the harpsichord has flourished as an ideal instrument, positioned at the core of Baroque musical practices. These practices are intricately linked to a specific period characterized by meticulous methods, themselves born from precise aesthetic and philosophical conceptions. Rooted in the foundations of neo-Platonism cultivated in the preceding era, these practices have matured to fruition.

The harpsichord's innate connection to the music of its era is evident in its most distinct characteristics. This intrinsic link explains why the instrument fell out of use when musical styles evolved. Consequently, despite its wealth in an extensive repertoire of the highest artistic quality and immense historical significance, the harpsichord has reached us without an established tradition or usage instructions. Our knowledge about it, depending on the perspective, is as accessible as it is elusive. This circumstance creates an open field for exploration, abundance, and invention—a realm of creative freedom that is vibrantly alive. It stands in stark contrast to the imposing mass of great examples, whose overwhelming conformity can weigh heavily on the aspirations of young modern instrumentalists.

Nevertheless, there exists an urgent imperative to reinstate the harpsichord to its rightful prominence. If young harpsichordists were to cease their engagement with the repertoire, it would be akin to a world where Beethoven, Chopin, Schubert, and others were no longer heard—an unsettling and nonsensical scenario. It is the responsibility of every harpsichordist to actively champion the instrument and do so persuasively, ensuring its enduring presence and appreciation.

We must continuously refine and reinvent the playing techniques that were forgotten with the disappearance of our instrument. It is imperative to comprehend and adeptly employ all its distinct qualities, mastering them to their fullest extent. Through relentless dedication, we strive to envisage the remarkable skill and artistry exhibited by exceptional figures such as J.S. Bach, D. Scarlatti, F. Couperin, J. Bull, G. Frescobaldi, J. Ph. Rameau, and countless others.

The harpsichord can be likened to a lute, guitar, or harp. It stands as the singular stringed instrument with a keyboard that offers direct control over sound emission. Through a straightforward mechanism, the harpsichordist's finger initiates contact with the string before its play, maintaining that contact throughout the sound's attack. Logically, it is the most opulent and potentially expressive among all musical instruments. Our endeavor is to master the string, necessitating control over the speed of our fingers and the exploration of every conceivable color and tone. To achieve this mastery, we must learn the finesse of playing a light keyboard flawlessly, tuning and adjusting our instrument to unlock its full potential. Through ceaseless practice and exploration, we discover playing techniques that are not only effective but also personally beneficial. As we put these techniques into practice, we create harmony within our bodies, hearts, and minds. Our music, in turn, becomes not only beneficial but also useful. Our task then is to seize the creative fields available to the performer and invest them to their full potential.

Teaching the harpsichord involves imparting the highest standards and utmost discernment in the exploration and mastery of effective, precise playing techniques, coupled with a deep understanding of historical and organological knowledge. It also entails fostering the development of robust personal creativity through the profound respect for instruments and texts.

Teacher(s): Frédérick Haas

Organ teaching at the Conservatoire Royal de Bruxelles

Organ learning today encompasses an exceptionally vast spectrum. Consider its repertoire, spanning nearly seven centuries of music, and the instrumental aspect. The distinctions between a seventeenth-century Italian organ and a Cavaillé-Coll organ (from one of the eminent French organ builders of the nineteenth century) mirror the differences between a Ruckert harpsichord and an Erard piano.

The diverse instrumental approach to the organ stands as a cornerstone in organ teaching. Today's organists must possess the skill to adapt to the myriad types of instruments—both ancient and modern—found in churches and concert halls. This adaptation necessitates the study of various techniques, informed by ancient texts that elucidate the methods of playing music on specific instruments. Being an organist in the contemporary context also entails the ability to transpose ancient playing modes to more recent instruments. For instance, understanding how to render a Bach composition effectively on a 19th-century instrument, all while anchoring the approach within a historically informed conception.

Improvisation holds a significant place in the training of organists, alongside accompaniment for various contexts such as concerts and liturgies involving solo voices, choirs, instrumental ensembles, and more.

Contemporary music is now recognized as an independent subject, yet closely intertwined with repertoire music. In this regard, we guide students throughout their studies, teaching them the art of crafting diverse and meaningful programs. This includes techniques such as echoing an early work with a contemporary piece, illustrating the dynamic interplay between different musical periods.

Involvement in chamber music, orchestral collaborations, and choral projects provides students with a firsthand understanding of the realities within the profession. Similarly, engaging in solo concerts on Brussels' most captivating organs further enriches their practical experiences.

Every year, study trips are organized, allowing students to visit and play some of Europe's most emblematic instruments. This provides them with valuable insights into the diverse realities they will encounter in their professional lives.

In this context, an understanding of organ building is also essential. This includes learning how to tune the instrument personally before a concert and addressing any malfunctions that may arise.

The organ is a remarkable instrument that not only unlocks the door to culture, heritage, and history but also opens up the world through its numerous travels and encounters.

It is with a spirit of joyful discovery that I personally find gratification in teaching. My aim is to transmit passion, patience, attentive listening skills, and a love for both music and the instrument through meaningful interactions with students at the Brussels Conservatory. Above all, I emphasize personal development through music, striving to ensure that students not only excel in their musical pursuits but also feel content and fulfilled in their lives as musicians.
A vast program...

Teacher(s): Benoît Mernier

Pianoforte training is accessible to a diverse array of keyboard players, thereby fundamentally enhancing students' future artistic and professional growth.

It is aimed at a variety of profiles:

  • A proficient harpsichordist may, for instance, seek to broaden their repertoire by incorporating the virtuosity characteristic of the 19th century. Alternatively, they might delve into research focused on a pivotal period of the 18th century, situated at the intersection of two instrument families.
  • An organist may aspire to master a delicate, light keyboard that necessitates the use of the forte pedal. Alternatively, they might seek a deeper understanding of the potential parallels between these instruments, recognizing that composers often played them in tandem.
  • A pianist with a background in regular piano studies may wish to delve into historical knowledge in a practical and applied manner, exploring extremely diverse and demanding keyboards. In this context, the essential element of ongoing research will inherently guide them towards a highly personal approach in honing their skills, thereby fostering the acquisition of a profoundly rich professional artistic profile.

Engaging in fortepiano practice within the institution can guide a musician towards a deliberate career choice and open up enhanced professional opportunities. Comprehensive training also empowers them to align their path based on personal affinities, whether as a soloist, chamber musician, or continuo performer in opera, all while cultivating a genuine understanding of instruments specific to each period and the corresponding playing styles.

1. Historical knowledge directly related to the art form
The period piano, commonly known as the pianoforte, underwent rapid, intricate, and exponential development, especially from the late 18th century to the mid-19th century. Constructive structures, materials, and aesthetic concepts evolved within short intervals, often resulting in markedly different outcomes. Playing a 5-octave keyboard requires a distinct technique from playing a 6-octave keyboard, and likewise for a 7-octave keyboard. The weight distribution in the keyboard varies, incorporating knee pads and pedals. Each element holds significance in the musician's artistic approach, deftly employed by composers of the time. Exploring the interplay between instrument, composer, and performer empowers students to reconstruct an artistic approach through research. For example, a student delving into the music of composer J.G. Eckard (1735-1809), situated at a crossroads among the harpsichord, clavichord, and pianoforte, grapples with questions about the most suitable instrument for Eckard's compositions. Details like his journey to Paris with Stein become crucial elements in this investigation. The student's inquiry extends to understanding how Eckard's career aligns with the contemporaneous development of the pianoforte and the specific playing techniques he employed on different keyboards. This process of questioning and research guides the student toward a personalized and conscientious approach in presenting their findings.

2. Knowledge of styles and approach to composers' particularities
The practice of instruments within the institution already showcases the significant divergence in knowledge of styles, such as C.P.E. Bach, Haydn, Mozart, in contrast to Chopin and Mendelssohn. While fundamental rhetorical elements persist in both the 18th and 19th centuries, their contextual application, musical interpretation, and implications for ornamentation necessitate meticulous and focused examination. For instance: Defining the direction and climax of a phrase in Haydn's music involves considering rhetorical, rhythmic (linked to tempo), and contextual elements, taking into account its position within the overall structure. Selecting the appropriate ornament becomes a careful process, recognizing that the speed of a mordant may differ in a slow movement compared to an Allegro. Managing rubato in Chopin demands a nuanced approach based on phrasing and direction, influenced by bel canto inspiration, all while maintaining a judicious understanding of the placement of ornaments.

3. Learning to listen with concentration and awareness
An introduction to pianoforte tuning technique serves to cultivate a more nuanced listening experience and heightened concentration. The intricate nature of the sound, enriched by numerous higher harmonics resulting from the simultaneous striking of three or two strings by a hammer, encourages students to delve deeper into the quality of the sound they produce while playing. This exploration unveils the manifold possibilities inherent in the instrument. Simultaneously, an enhanced understanding of temperament is pivotal for any keyboardist. It prompts them to think in intervals rather than isolated 'notes,' fostering a more conscious approach to the harmonic structure of a composition. This skill becomes particularly beneficial in ensemble settings, such as chamber music, where the keyboardist comprehends how intervals contribute to the overall intonation quality of the ensemble. The development of this listening acuity plays a fundamental role in the artistic growth of the future musician, shaping the quality of their concentration and furnishing them with the keys to independence beyond their formal training.

4. Relationship to text and play
Special focus will be given to the textual aspects and the common challenges encountered in various editions. For instance, when faced with contradictions in different editions regarding a musical connection or ornamentation, decisions must be carefully considered. This involves recontextualizing the passage, understanding the significance of rhetorical figures, considering traditions of the relevant period (German, French, English schools), and taking into account the specific characteristics of the instrument involved.

Playing with the score will be cultivated with a consistent emphasis on readability and attention to detail. The specialized techniques associated with this form of playing, including rapid movements, jumps, and mastery of the keyboard without visual reference, will be imparted as foundational elements for fostering a relaxed and efficient technique. This approach, in turn, facilitates the development of a liberated interpretation that encourages musical risk-taking.

Teacher(s): Claire Chevallier

For us, basso continuo is a practice of the utmost importance. Not only must we practise it assiduously, but we must also devote part of our research as performers to it. The basso continuo is, and always has been, an essential part of the harpsichordist's daily life. To neglect the basso continuo would be to shut oneself away in the ivory tower of a solitary and anachronistic relationship with the music, and to run the risk of being a rather poor performer, for want of having experienced the relationship with the music of the composers we admire.

The basso continuo unveils a captivating role of keyboard instruments, serving to organize a framework for all musical elements. Not only does it structure rhythmic and harmonic foundations upon which musical rhetoric and accents unfold, but it also shapes the auditory space in which affects and colors can flourish. This is achieved by manifesting a sonic spectrum determined by the qualities of keyboard tuning. The basso continuo plays a crucial role in establishing the fundamentals (fondamento) of music: time and sound. It embodies a characteristic feature of the Baroque era, rooted in the robust organization of clear, hierarchical structures.

Once basso continuo practice was refined and standardized, it emerged as the fundamental substance through which musicians could master the language of music. Even today, it remains evident that playing the basso continuo encompasses all the essential components of a well-rounded musical education. It involves reading and inventing notes, exploring repertoire, understanding harmony and melodic invention, and delving into compositional techniques. Through this process, one acquires indispensable familiarity with the formulas and nuances that constitute the foundational material of musical art, spanning from the seventeenth to at least the mid-nineteenth centuries. For a performing musician, there is arguably nothing more crucial than cultivating a composer's intelligence and truly understanding the essence of what they are playing. This objective aligns with the goals of various historically informed musical movements.

However, there is a lot of speculation about the basso-continue. We try to reconstruct a practice, and nothing is more difficult. All too often, the question of how to do it is asked, obliterating the all-important question of why to do it. The problem of the basso continuo is twofold: theoretical and practical. It covers a dual competence, artistic and academic, a dual function, musical and pedagogical. Things are similar to what happens when studying a foreign language. For months and years, you do grammar exercises, you learn vocabulary lists, you engage in more or less controlled practice. And then you have to travel, you have to go to faraway countries, you have to take to the streets. Then another reality appears, in all its splendour - or in all its abomination. Some of the best students don't dare open their mouths and don't understand a word. A few dunces, clever as monkeys, guided by a mysterious instinct, manage. A certain confidence, a certain smile and a certain flexibility are essential.

Confident in the thorough preparation undertaken by our harpsichordists across their four regular voices, my aim is to enhance the quality of their ensemble playing. This involves fostering flexibility and achieving the closest possible integration with a group of musicians. The focus is on clarifying their role—how they can adhere closely to textures, respond to nuances in dynamics and emotions, and provide robust support without overshadowing or disrupting the ensemble. Balancing the precision of the harpsichord with the freedom required for complicity, enabling Baroque rhetoric to unfold with its essential unpredictability, demands substantial and enlightened practice. The Early Music Department at the Royal Conservatory of Brussels offers an abundance of situations crucial for effective training in this regard.

Teacher(s): Frédérick Haas, Paolo Zanzu

The Baroque Violin class at the Royal Conservatory of Brussels derives its dynamic from the complementary nature of its teachers. Mira Glodeanu and Benoit Douchy, who have collaborated for over 20 years, impart their shared passion for music to the students. They provide a teaching experience that is both sensitive and expert, leveraging their rapport to inspire each student to discover their own musical voice.

Teacher(s): Mira Glodeanu, Benoît Douchy

For over 12 years, the Baroque Cello class at the Brussels Conservatoire has functioned as a university research team. Through collaborative efforts in individual research, group lessons, extensive debates, and colloquia under the direction of Marc Vanscheeuwijck, the class generates cutting-edge research.

Through this research, the class aims to provide a sonic representation of the diverse violoncelli, acknowledging that this representation is an ongoing development. The class strives to refine and distinguish the violoncello-basso from the violoncello-solo in the contemporary curriculum of baroque cellists. This involves exploring various instruments, playing positions, chords, ornamentation, and aspects of training and 'virtuosity.'

To organize this comprehensive learning process, the academic year is segmented into four two-month periods referred to as 'learning blocks.' These blocks are selected from a pool of 26 blocks encompassing solo cello repertoire from 1550 to 1780. Each block delves into a distinct period and geographical context in the cello's history, exploring solo repertoire. The class delves into various sources (treatises, scores, books, articles, iconography, etc.) and ensures appropriate organology by providing specific instruments.

In addition to individual lessons, students actively participate in a 2-hour group lesson each week. This group session serves as a platform to delve into the extensive content of the current block, involving activities such as reading documents, listening to a plethora of often lesser-known pieces, and engaging with specialists in the covered subjects. One block is revisited annually: 'Bach and his Sons,' where each student performs a complete suite every year.

Since 2020, the cello class at the Conservatoire has undertaken an ambitious and distinctive project: the development of a method for learning historical techniques that are specific to the cello but have, to a certain extent, faded with time. This includes harmonic basso continuo inspired by Neapolitan partimenti and idiomatic ornamentation that incorporates rhetorical principles to align with the 'good taste' of the era and locale. The Brussels Conservatoire has generously funded six years of research for the creation of this distinctive historical cello method.

The class is led by five teachers, each bringing specific and complementary skills to the table. Additionally, the involvement of certain students, with diverse backgrounds, dedication to their work, and inquisitiveness, fosters the development of unique skills. These interactions contribute to a dynamic class and research environment, resulting in structured learning, mutual support, and strong group cohesion.

This class is an integral part of the Royal Conservatory of Brussels' early music department, which offers a diverse array of courses crucial for the intelligent practice of baroque music. Over the years, our department has established itself as a cross-disciplinary learning environment, often referred to as a 'village,' where students can engage in experimentation and seek answers to their myriad questions.

The Brussels Conservatoire's baroque cello class stands out as a unique learning environment, demanding for both students and teachers due to the cumulative expertise and skills it incorporates.

Exploring the historical bass instruments, ranging from the 8' violone to the 16' violone, the 5-string Viennese double bass, and the 3-string bass with various tunings and bowing techniques, is a comprehensive and diverse endeavor. As a performer, I have integrated these variants into my professional practice and aim to guide conservatory students in mastering this rich historical bass instrumentarium.

Recognizing that each student has a unique background, story, and preferences, my approach is to accommodate individual wishes. However, I also encourage students to gain exposure to the unfamiliar aspects of historical bass instruments, such as instruments with different tunings and various historical bows. This approach aims to provide a well-rounded understanding of the historical context for bass players in the baroque era, emphasizing the importance of adaptability.

The role of all continuo instruments holds a vital place in the musical language of the Baroque period. Given the significance of the polyphonic tradition in the baroque language, the historical double bass and violin course places special emphasis on regular bass consort classes, which I coordinate. These classes provide a crucial opportunity for bass players to refine their chamber music skills and deepen their understanding of counterpoint. A keen, intuitive grasp of harmony, along with its practical application and execution on a specific instrument, is fundamental to a comprehensive education in early music. In my teaching approach, this aspect of bass playing is as crucial, if not more so, than the technical mastery of the instrument itself.

Teacher(s): James Munro

Kaori Uemura gives us her vision of viola da gamba teaching:

The viola da gamba instruction focuses on two primary themes:

  1. Creating your own sound by becoming one with the instrument. To resonate with others, you have to resonate with yourself. Finding a sound that aligns with your own axis is a sound that can inspire others and assert itself, whether you're playing solo or in an ensemble.
  2. Master the fundamentals of polyphony using the bow. Creating the shapes of each note, fundamental to the Baroque style, is akin to the work of a sculptor. Playing the messa di voce involves a singing quality. The precision in bowing technique, producing varied colors, is comparable to the work of a painter. Articulating different phrasing with various articulations is both rhetorical and theatrical. Achieving fullness and liveliness in tempo requires the grace of a dancer. In mastering these comprehensive techniques, it is crucial to engage in musical expression while analyzing the piece.

Teacher(s): Kaori Uemura

Nicolas Achten presents the lute class:

I was asked to set up a lute class at the Brussels Royal Conservatory in 2012. From the outset, I wanted to offer young lutenists a place where they could develop both their technical skills and their versatility. The variety of sometimes atypical profiles of my students has been very enriching, and the appetite for discovery has always been the common denominator for the whole lute class (which is regularly joined by a harpist whom I also teach).

The world of the lute offers several centuries of repertoire and an almost endless variety of instruments. My personal interests range from Renaissance instruments to those of the late eighteenth century, with a particular focus on continuo instruments from around 1600. I attach great importance to researching and exploring instruments that are too often neglected: bass lutes and double basses, very large theorbos, non-wired double strings and mesotonic temperament are all part of my daily practice.

During their training, I encourage my students to explore as many instruments as possible (from the bass lute to the soprano lute, theorbo, archlute, baroque lute, etc.), different practices and repertoires (solo, consort, lute songs, etc.), so that each student can find his or her own path and strengths. I attach great importance to developing technique (a supple, structured posture, a relaxed but precise left hand, the right hand in contact with the strings for optimum sound shaping, work on attack speeds) while encouraging adaptability so that you can move from one instrument to another with comfort and stability. We tackle the essential repertoire, but also explore repertoire that is off the beaten track. The question of transcription and arrangement is also regularly addressed, and I encourage the exploration of contemporary repertoire for our instruments.

Basso continuo plays an important part in our work, and we explore the different roles within the continuo, from fondamento (theorbo, colascione, bass lute, chitarrone) to ornamento (archlute, baroque lute, gallichone, tiorbino, baroque guitar, etc). As far as possible, my students learn continuo on instruments tuned in G and A, but also, as far as possible, in D minor (baroque lute). We work on sound projection, dynamic range, rhythmic efficiency, musical relevance and so on. As a singer and singing teacher in the department, I attach great importance to the relationship between basso continuo and singing, and encourage synergy between my two classes.

Teacher(s): Nicolas Achten

Nathalie Houtman presents the recorder class:

My philosophy as a teacher is to assist students in developing as artists. This involves providing a solid framework for their learning and actively guiding them to find their place in the artistic world.

My approach to teaching the recorder has been enriched over the years through a decade of serving as an assistant to Frédéric de Roos at the Royal Brussels Conservatoire. This experience has allowed me to develop a keen understanding of the concept of transmission, laying the foundation for the sustained growth of a vibrant community of recorder players.

I have traveled extensively worldwide, exploring traditional music, and my passion extends to alternative methods of transmitting music, particularly oral traditions. My teaching philosophy is deeply influenced by these experiences, emphasizing connections to life, intuition, and creation.

My fascination with sound and dance, along with their therapeutic applications, has driven me to undergo training in sound therapy and various psycho-corporal techniques. This diverse background enriches my classes, offering a comprehensive and refined understanding of the human experience. I place significant emphasis on working with the body, cultivating subtle listening skills, and fostering self-awareness. This integrative approach aims to synchronize various aspects, fostering coherence in performance and artistic choices.

In my life as a musician, my role as a concert performer harmoniously complements my work as a teacher. I find great joy in sharing both facets of a musician's life with students, empowering them to make informed choices about their professional futures.

Teaching team and different modules

The recorder class comprises five teachers, each with their unique specializations, all fully dedicated to the world of music. This diverse range of expertise ensures a rich and varied musical experience for students.
Each course is an integral part of the curriculum and will be represented in the various assessments:

  • Frédéric de Roos et Nathalie Houtman : recorder
  • Laura Pok : consort, reading and transposition
  • Tomma Wessel : contemporary music
  • Katelijne Lanneau : medieval music

We are opening a module dedicated to the Czakan. Two instruments by G. Hulsens will be made available to us so that we can tackle the repertoire of the early 19th century.

We have recently established a flute ensemble at the CRB. This ensemble, consisting of approximately 15 flutists, is unique as it brings together teachers, current students, and former students. We gather weekly to prepare for two concerts annually, including the closing concert at the Blockfluitdagen festival in Mechelen in July.


I've been delighted over the last few years to see that the community of flautists who have graduated from the Royal Conservatoire in Brussels remains very close-knit.
This embodies a noble ideal that I aim to perpetuate. It is a moment for collective endeavor in the pursuit of artistic beauty. From the multitude of seeds sown, a magnificent forest is steadily emerging, firmly establishing the recorder in the realm of contemporary music.

Teacher(s): Nathalie Houtman, Frédéric de Roos, Laura Pok, Tomma Wessel, Katelijne Lanneau

I'm Carlota García, your guide to the enchanting world of the traverso at the seminar for modern flautists.

My seminar is aimed at those of you who aspire to different musical experiences, whether you're a novice or already initiated into the art of the traverso. Here's what you can expect from our journey together:

1. Discovering Traverso : For beginners, the initial two lessons will introduce you to the world of this instrument. I will guide you through the subtleties of the traverso, cover essential fingerings, and teach basic techniques. The goal is to provide you with the necessary knowledge to continue your studies independently. The Conservatoire has four traversos at your disposal for practice and exploration of this instrument.

2. Continuity for insiders : If you already have some prior experience or if the initial two sessions sparked your curiosity, the seminar provides an opportunity to further your traverso skills. Together, we will explore more advanced aspects, refine your technique, and broaden your musical repertoire.

3. Historical Interpretation (HIP) : If you aim for a deeper understanding of historical performance, we will explore Baroque and Classical pieces, which you can study with the instrument of your choice, be it traverso or modern flute. This informed approach will allow you to contextualize and bring early music to life authentically.

I can't wait to share this passion with you all. The traverso seminar offers you a unique opportunity to discover, learn and grow musically.

Teacher(s): Carlota Garcia

The Baroque and Classical oboe course provides guidance and cultivates a musical personality with the technical ability to express and develop artistic ideas through the instrument.

Through technical exercises, an exploration of the physical and physiological aspects of the musician, and a thoughtful selection of repertoire, students will acquire mastery over the technical aspects of the Baroque and Classical oboe family instruments.

With personalized support centered on the student's artistic personality, they will have the opportunity to explore and enhance their performance skills in a stimulating environment.

In a rapidly evolving musical landscape, musicians stand to benefit significantly from a historically informed approach to music. Hence, the challenge is to furnish students with the theoretical and technical tools necessary to navigate diverse musical styles, fostering a comprehensive comprehension of 17th and 18th-century music. Simultaneously, the aim is to cultivate a vibrant interpretation that preserves a creative and spontaneous dimension, notably through ornamentation and improvisation.

Teacher(s): Benoît Laurent

"Be above all a creature of breath," Frans Brüggen used to assert in his provocative manner during the master classes he conducted in the late 1970s, or, as various traditions propose, "a mystic of breath."
I would convey to my students, in paraphrasing: Pay attention to the breath and the act of sharing!
According to Claude Lévi-Strauss, an artist never journeys alone on the path of creation. Similarly, a musician, especially a wind instrumentalist, must play in close synergy with his or her colleagues.

The historical clarinet and chalumeau course offer extensive training for clarinetists specializing in historical performance practice on period instruments. Additionally, this course provides the opportunity for a stylistic introduction, complementing the training of "modern" clarinetists with insights gained from historical practice.

As performance on original instruments has emerged as a crucial aspect in exploring Baroque, Classical, and Romantic repertoires, the study of historical clarinet and chalumeau has become an essential and integral part of the artistic journey for clarinet students at a Conservatoire.

Today's historical clarinet class comprises students from various nationalities, drawing individuals from diverse backgrounds over the years. What unites them is perhaps the shared desire to dedicate time to exploring the repertoire and, most importantly, to make informed choices regarding the type of instrument for historical interpretations.

Even in contemporary times, numerous clarinettists embark on their professional journeys without undergoing formal academic training.

Studying historical clarinet at the Brussels Conservatoire entails exploring a diverse array of instruments and reeds, capitalizing on discoveries made over the past 30 years. This comprehensive approach enhances skills and enables students to engage with a broad repertoire spanning from the Baroque to Stravinsky.

Teacher(s): Vincenzo Casale

The baroque bassoon course at the Brussels Conservatoire focuses on attaining mastery and technical excellence across the bassoon family, encompassing various sizes of the dulcian family, the baroque bassoon in 4 or 5 keys, and the classical bassoon in 7 or 8 keys. The curriculum emphasizes proficiency in repertoire and an understanding of the historical contexts in which each bassoon type is most appropriate.

This adaptability is crucial in the contemporary realm of historically informed performance. However, I also encourage each student to articulate their artistic vision, which may involve preferences among the various instruments in the bassoon family and specialization on one or more.

Another significant aspect of a bassoonist's professional skills, to which I dedicate time and attention in the course, is the ability to independently craft one's own reeds. This skill enables the development of a personal technique, intertwined with the exploration of one's "ideal sound," for which reeds play a fundamental role.

Teacher(s): José Rodrigues Gomes

Teacher(s) : Jean-Pierre Dassonville

Nicolas Achten presents the singing class:

The early music singing class was recently created as a result of collaboration between the singing section and the early music department. The syllabus we offer combines training as a singer (vocal technique, bodywork, linguistics, stagecraft, etc.) and as an early music specialist (ancient notations, treatises, rhetoric, temperaments, ornamentation, gestures, etc.).

More specifically, in my singing lessons, I focus on developing the vocal instrument, the artistic personality, exploring the repertoire and acquiring the various interpretation tools specific to each genre and period.

In my technical work, I attach great importance to developing the voice to optimise the fullness of its timbre, while respecting each person's vocal identity. I take care to cultivate its flexibility, so that it can adapt as well as possible to each repertoire tackled. While maintaining a holistic approach, we work together with the student on specific aspects of posture (borrowing in particular from the F.-M. Alexander technique), breathing (optimal inhalation, control of flow and pressure on exhalation), phonation (laryngeal flexibility, resonance spaces, homogeneity of registers and vowels), flexible and relaxed use of the tongue, economy of jaw movement, and so on. More specifically to the pre-1800 repertoires, we explore the different types of ornamentation (trillo battuto, gruppo, ribattuta di gola, temulo sul punto, tremble appuyé, tremblement lié, etc.), agility (gorgia, coloratura, etc.), and register management, for example in the case of more specific tessituras (haute-contre à la française, homogenisation of head voice and chest voice for a falsettist, etc.).

While the core of the repertoire studied is that from before 1800 - mainly from the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries - forays into the nineteenth, twentieth and twenty-first centuries are encouraged. We work on the right vocal and musical gesture for each style, focusing on the historical context, the relationship between text and music, rhetorical understanding, etc., in the light of the primary and secondary sources relevant to each repertoire. We also explore historically informed pronunciations of French, English and Latin, ornamentation and Baroque gestures. As a harpsichordist, harpist and lutenist, I attach great importance to the relationship between singing and basso continuo; as head of the lute class, I develop synergies between the two classes.

As well as weekly individual and group singing lessons, I attach great importance to 'in situ' experience (projects, concerts, public performances), and when the student is 'ready', I help them to make contact with the artistic world and to integrate into it: auditions for an ensemble leader, a professional integration project, a competition, an opera house, an artistic agent, etc. Teamwork is one of the strengths of the Conservatoire's teaching staff, and I work hand in hand with my colleagues in the early music department and the singing section. Students in the early music singing class also benefit from working with an assistant or lecturer from the singing department.

Teacher(s): Nicolas Achten

The consort course is integrated into the curriculum for recorder students, offering them the chance to play on a Bassano Renaissance recorder consort in 466, crafted by the Dutch recorder maker Adriana Breukink. The Conservatoire makes this consort available to the students. Since the consort course serves as a laboratory for experimentation, students take turns assuming the roles of superius, altus, tenor, and bass, exploring the distinct characteristics of each role.

The repertoire covered in the consort course mainly consists of 16th-century polyphonic instrumental music (fantasias, ricercare, dances, etc.) and vocal music (madrigals, chansons, frottole, motets, etc.). Various aspects are explored, including intonation (understanding of pure intervals, resultant sounds, mesotonic temperament, etc.), breathing and coordinated articulation, diminutions, the relationship between music and text, transposition, and reading in chiavi naturali/chiavette, as well as facsimile reading (rhythmic notation, tactus, ligatures, proportions, musica ficta, etc.).

The consort course involves projects that are interconnected with other classes and disciplines, such as Renaissance dance, spoken word performance, contemporary composition for period instruments, and the broken consort. In recent years, the consort has organized a Renaissance ball, premiered two contemporary music pieces ('Suflu' for Renaissance recorder consort and lirone by Cornelia Zambila, and 'The Flight' for Renaissance recorder consort by Luisa Maria Alvarez), participated in the parade of the Conservatoire's body training students, and contributed to the 'Aux portes de Bruxelles' concerts at various festivals.

Teacher(s): Laura Pok

At the Royal Conservatoire of Brussels, a cornerstone of early music education lies in the examination of historical sources, encompassing both textual and musical aspects. Students benefit from direct access to these primary documents, allowing them to engage with the repertoire free from preconceived notions. The approach involves delving into scores and exploring instrumental, musical, and stylistic practices of the period. This process empowers students to craft their own discourse with a high degree of expressive freedom.

The purpose of critical editing is twofold: firstly, to mentor students in the research and thorough examination of primary sources, and secondly, to instill in them a critical approach towards the documents and information they collect and utilize in their daily practice. This endeavor not only equips them with a diverse set of technical, analytical, and musical skills but also encourages a nuanced understanding of historical materials within their broader musical context.

The critical edition process, leading to a concert performance of the selected work, unfolds over the span of two years within the Master's course. This critical edition serves as the initial segment of the TFE (end-of-studies project) in early music. The second part of the TFE involves a research project, which may or may not be directly related to the edited work.

Teacher(s): Vinciane Baudhuin

The course on the in-depth history of early music, under the theme "History as a Tool to Support, Enlighten, and Guide Performance Choices," is structured around various thematic modules such as "Dances," "Passions," and "History of the HIP Movement." These modules serve as focal points for contemplating the significance of music, its contexts of creation and production, and the musician's role in society across different periods. The course aims to provide a comprehensive understanding of historical perspectives to inform and enhance performance decisions.

By contextualizing history, this course explores the places where music was created (countries, cities, institutions), the assigned functions, the key figures (composers, performers, audiences), and the evolving forms and styles. However, to effectively build knowledge, the course integrates practical elements through workshops. These workshops involve source research, critical analysis, and a reflective approach. This practical engagement aims to contextualize the pieces studied in instrumental classes, particularly by examining the interpretative questions they pose. It also contributes to the development of a thoughtful and meaningful program in the contemporary context.

Teacher(s): Margaux Sladden

The organology course consists of four sessions, including lectures and guided visits to the Musée des Instruments de Musique in Brussels. These sessions serve as an introduction to the field of organology, covering the most common instrument families from the 16th to the 19th centuries. The course also includes a session dedicated to the final project, where each student presents their work to the group.

Teacher(s): Marc Vanscheeuwijck

As Bruce Haynes wrote in 2010:
« Modern performers (including many HIP performers) tend not to be very interested in extemporization. Although we all improvise with language for hours every day, most of us have had the child’s delight in improvising music trained out. The natural ability to play “off the page”, to fake it when necessary, is drummed out of us nowadays before we’re half finished with conservatory training. Where seventeenth- and eighteenth- century musicians had a casual view of written music, and no doubt “improved” pieces regularly, a modern performer usually feels a definite constraint about altering anything. »

The goal is to explore the practices of musicians from the past, cultivate an appreciation for them, and comprehend the extent to which they empower contemporary musicians to deepen their understanding of scores, refine their connection with the instrument, and enhance their instrumental technique.

The Improvisation and Ornamentation course strives to equip musicians with the theoretical and technical skills required to approach various musical styles through the lenses of improvisation and ornamentation. It also aims to foster the development of a musical personality capable of expressing and evolving musical ideas through their instrument.

In a rapidly evolving musical landscape, adopting a historically informed approach is crucial for performers. It not only adds depth but also retains a creative and spontaneous dimension. In this context, improvisation is essential to emotionally engage with the audience and comprehend the language of a specific period and place through its compositional mechanisms. The course comprises modules that delve into specific aspects, jam sessions, and coaching on the instrument's repertoire.

Teacher(s): Benoît Laurent, Thomas Baeté, Andrea Gavagnin, Thomas Waelbroeck

The course, akin to Janus, the god with two faces, emphasizes that theory is just one facet of a complete understanding, with practice being the other side. These two facets are interconnected and mutually enriching. The course's objective is to provide musicians with the theoretical foundation necessary for navigating the intricate and diverse musical practices of the past. Students are expected to gain the ability to recognize relevant theoretical sources for interpreting a specific musical piece. Furthermore, they should approach these sources with a critical and historically informed perspective.

Teacher(s): Benoît Laurent