Courses for Fall 2023

Performance Practicality

– historical performance practice on modern instruments

Study Levels: Undergraduate, Postgraduate
Faculty: Christian Westergaard and Toke Møldrup
Royal Danish Academy of Music

Tentative online meeting dates in 2023:

  • Friday, February 24, 2023, 4pm CET
  • Friday, March 31, 2023, 4pm CET
  • Monday, April 24, 2023, 4pm CET

Christian Westergaard and Toke Møldrup introduce Performance Practicality

Performance Practicality – historical performance practice on modern instruments


Do you want to expand your choices and possibilities when it comes to expression and interpretation of music from the baroque and classical periods? Do you want to find knowledge that is directly applicable to your repertoire studies? Are you curious about historical performance practices but want to stay within the performance on modern instruments? Do you want to speak the musical languages of Bach and Mozart in a more fluent way? Do you want to excite your audiences with performances that keep them up at night but still remain respectful to the composer?
Then this course might be interesting for you. It focuses on building bridges between the craft of music making in the past and the art of interpretation today. Through concrete tools, through stepping in the shoes of the well-educated musician of 17th and 18th century, you will gain knowledge about composition, performance, context and concrete practice, all with the purpose of gaining stylistic fluency and vocabulary.



  • Add new angles to your instrumental practise of music of the Baroque and Classical period by
    • Making well-considered artistic and interpretative decisions based on and validated by knowledge of historical practice.
    • Improving the understanding of the musical language of Bach, Mozart and their contemporaries
    • Understanding the difference between a “modern-traditional” performance and a HIP (inspired) performance?
    • Implementing and applying practical tools derived from Historical Practice into your everyday practice of music from the Baroque and Classical period, thus expanding your array of different activities within repertoire study.
    • Distinguishing between matters of execution and expression
    • Distinguishing between the different layers in the musical fabric
  • Via course specific tools you will be able to perform with
    • Improved sense of harmony
    • Improved sense of rhythm
    • Improved sense of gestures
    • Improved sense of articulation
    • Stylistically convincing and deepening embellishment
  • By use of course-specific theoretical knowledge you will be able to enhance your reflection abilities by
    • Finding and using relevant information on Historically Informed Practice (HIP) derived from sources, modern books and online resources
    • Reading information with a nuanced and critical perspective
    • Referencing key points of the HIP movement aesthetics and performance practice
    • Understanding the origins and contexts of particular styles of baroque and classical period repertoire
    • Understanding and distinguishing various performance practice traditions, HIP as well as the “modern tradition”
    • Reflect on the potential artistic development derived from an extended every day practice with course tools.
    • Reflect on the neighbouring practices as composer and performer and reaching out for the historical practice of a collected continuum between creating and recreating.



  • An arrangement of a Baroque suite movement using course specific tools
  • A written essay on self-development during the course (1000 words)
  • A recording (10 minutes) of a piece or excerpts from a piece displaying understanding of course topics



Performance Practicality is scheduled from 6th of February to 28th of April 2023. Consisting of 7 asynchronous learning modules and 3 live online sessions, the course will employ a range of teaching formats such as:

  • Video lectures
  • Reading assignments
  • Practical instrumental exercises
  • Class discussions – online discussion boards or in live sessions
  • Listening exercises
  • Group assignments
  • Interactive online activities

The course is aimed at students majoring in piano and strings performance; However, other students with an interest in the field are also most welcome to apply.



Module 1 and 2

Introduction to some of the most important working tools for the 18th century musician. Figured Bass, accompaniment, voice leading, improvisation and rhetoric.

Other basic topics will be:

  • Dances and the Ritornello form
  • French, Italian and mixed style
  • Sources and literature

Assignments in figured bass and analysis will be given


Module 3: Search and you shall find

Search and find in the repertoire


Module 4 – Friday, February 24, 2023, 4pm CET, live session 1
  • Meet and greet
  • General discussion & ideas – topic:
    The musician’s role in performing + 250 years old music
  • General discussion & ideas: Modern/historical instruments
  • Reflections on Module 1+2


Module 5 – Ornaments

You will learn about fundamental melodies as well as voluntary and involuntary ornaments in the French and Italian style.
Assignment in ornamenting fundamental tunes will be given

Module 6 – Reduction and deconstruction for modern performers
Understanding some reduction tools:
  • Harmonic reduction
  • Structural melody
  • Deconstruction and reconstruction
  • Transformation


Module 7: Composition of basic musical forms in the Baroque and classical period

How to write dance suite movements, slow adagios or figural prelude? We will guide you and give a historical overview of the musical and pedagogigal literature.

Module 8: Friday, March 31, 2023, 4pm CET, live session 2

Reflections on working with course tools

Module 9

In this module you will be asked to copy performance, create new performance

Module 10 Monday, April 24, 2023, 4pm CET, live session 3

General discussion
Performance coaching
Sum up



The course instructors will be available for consultation or to answer queries on Zoom during 3 sessions alongside the modules. Prior to the final assessment individual supervision will be offered. All course activities will be carried out with respect to differences in students’ background in terms of culture and language skills. While a secure grasp of written and spoken English will be useful in this course, the focus during the course and in the final assessment will be the subject matter of performance and not the finer details of language and presentation.