A selection of Millfield pianists from nearly every age group had the once in a lifetime opportunity to perform with one of the world’s greatest improvisers, Harry The Piano, during a sell-out concert at Millfield’s Johnson Hall.
The pupils also had the chance to work with Harry during a bespoke improvisation masterclass, ahead of his evening concert as part of Millfield’s International Concert Series.
During the masterclass, Harry taught pupils improvisation techniques that allowed them to explore a plethora of different styles through the manipulation of several elements, progressing from a classical style, to romantic before transforming to a lively ragrtime. Harry also showed pupils how to improvise melody lines over a pre-decided chord progression, focusing on the 12-bar blues and accompanied pupils as they each had a turn.
Noted as ‘one of the most gifted improvisers in the world’ by Classic FM, Harry The Piano has often been likened to a human jukebox with his note-perfect knowledge of tens of thousands of tunes, including most of the classical repertoire, every jazz standard and musical and most of the pop charts since 1950.
Millfield’s Director of Music, Matthew Cook, commented: “Not only is it a massive coup to have such a talented musican like Harry performing at Millfield, but to also have him work so closely with our musicians is something truly special. Millfield Music is now becoming synonymous with high-level musical performance, and it is delightful to see our pupils getting such impressive tutelage from some of the world’s best musicians to enrich their musical education.”
Following this inspiring day, Harry The Piano said: “It can be quite a daunting experience for teenage students to be taken outside their comfort zone and put on the spot with a request to improvise in front of their peers. From the way in which the students responded at Millfield, it was evident that they have benefited from a very supportive, nurturing and high-class musical environment. The atmosphere of the music department and the school in general was a delight.”