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Instrument Workshops at the Elbphilharmonie

Discover music – hands-on! A visit to the »World of Instruments«.

Elbphilharmonie »World of Instruments«

The workshops

The rooms resound with jingling, plucking and warbling like it's going out of style: in base section of the Elbphilharmonie building, the Kaispeicher with its Kaistudios, the World of Instruments opens its doors every day to an interested public. The World of Instruments attracts thousands of visitors every year who try out musical instruments from the classical symphony orchestra to the Caribbean and Asia, and play together with others. Many of the visitors are school pupils taking part in one of the ten different workshops on offer.

World of Instruments
World of Instruments © Claudia Höhne

7 questions for Benjamin Holzapfel (Head of the »World of Instruments«)

He keeps track of over a hundred instruments and pupils: Benjamin Holzapfel is in charge of the Elbphilharmonie's »World of Instruments«.

What makes the Elbphilharmonie different from the Laeiszhalle?

The central feature of the workshops, namely the opportunity to try out different instruments, is something we took over from the Klingendes Museum. However, we expanded the ways we introduce visitors to the instruments, and we have also added a lot of new instruments to the collection.

In addition to the »Klassiko Orchestra Instruments« workshops with musical instruments that form the classical symphony orchestra, we now offer a few new attractions, such as »Kreativ Composition«, »Kosmos Gamelan« with our new gamelan ensemble, »Kosmos Percussion« or »Kreativ Sound Safari«, where participants explore the Elbphilharmonie using their ears.

What is peoples’s response?

Truly amazing! I see that for myself at all the workshops I lead: the school pupils respond positively without exception, and that applies to the feedback from the teachers as well. Many teachers experience their pupils completely differently from the way they usually behave and are truly surprised at how well they concentrate, how even in difficult classes everyone is totally involved – e.g. during the final arrangements that we always play together at the end.

Klassiko Brass Day
Klassiko Brass Day © Claudia Höhne

Teachers are truly surprised at how well their pupils concentrate here.

Benjamin Holzapfel

I believe we can put something in motion with these courses.

Benjamin Holzapfel

What do the classes learn?

I believe we can put something in motion with these courses – amongst pupils and teachers alike. The pupils have the chance to discover something new, to get to know musical instruments that in some cases they decide to learn properly later on. And the teachers in turn get to know their students from a different angle, perhaps gaining some inspiration for their own lessons. The workshop always concludes with a tour of the Elbphilharmonie, including the backstage area: that’s pretty exciting for everyone, of course.

World of Instruments
World of Instruments © Claudia Höhne

But the courses aren’t just for children, are they?

No, they’re not: we also offer open workshops in the afternoon and at weekends where people of all ages are welcome. In the old Klingendes Museum at the Laeiszhalle, the number of adults was limited to two per child. That meant that if a child came accompanied by both parents and his grandmother, for instance, then one adult had to wait outside, as we simply didn’t have enough space. That has changed since we moved to the Elbphilharmonie, and now adults can attend on their own.

In response to popular demand, we even offer courses for adults only now. That shows that what we offer really appeals to people.

World of Instruments
World of Instruments © Claudia Höhne

What works particularly well at the new location?

We have a large foyer where people can assemble. Then we have many different rooms, which enables us to look after several groups at the same time. There is enough space to bring the groups together to perform a piece at the end of the workshop, which forms an integral part of our concept. The spaces themselves have good acoustics, so that you can hear one another. And in terms of logistics, we’re very happy with our big store on the site, so that we can swap something quickly if needs be.

World of Instruments
World of Instruments © Claudia Höhne

From Klingendes Museum to Elbphilharmonie »World of Instruments«

The World of Instruments is successor to the Klingendes Museum set up by Gerd Albrecht in the basement of the Laeiszhalle, which for many years inspired a love of music in young people.

  • 1989: Conductor and professor Gerd Albrecht establishes Klingendes Museum
  • Initial collection of about 40 musical instruments, the majority donated
  • Inventory triples over first few years
  • Location: Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe; Responsible body: Hamburger Jugendmusikstiftung
  • Courses for school classes (Mondays only) with 1,500 children taking part annually
  • 1997: Collection moves to Laeiszhalle
  • 2003: New courses for families with children
  • Continual increase in visitor numbers and of instruments
  • 2009: Initiation of mobile unit »Klingendes Mobil«
  • 2016: Relocation and renaming to Elbphilharmonie World of Instruments
World of Instruments
World of Instruments © Claudia Höhne

Has your work changed as a result of the new premises?

One thing that’s really great about the World of Instruments is that the very different workshops are starting to become a source of mutual inspiration. For example, elements of the composition workshop are also being used for the instrument workshops. The ideas, experiences and feedback from one course spreads to other courses. The outcome is a large pool of methods and ideas that our instructors can make use of, and so what we offer is constantly expanding.

Workshops Klingendes Mobil
Workshops Klingendes Mobil © Claudia Höhne

Ideas from one course spreads to other courses.

Benjamin Holzapfel

What are your future plans for the »World of Instruments«?

Obviously, we are in close contact with lots of interesting artists and projects at the Elbphilharmonie. We try to incorporate these elements into our courses, sometimes involving musicians in the workshops both here in the Kaistudios and at the kindergartens that we visit with our mobile unit.

We also try to link our own programme up with one or two concerts or festivals, and to develop special courses, featuring jazz or Early Music for instance.

»Klassiko Orchestra Instruments« is supported by the Hubertus Wald Stiftung.

»Kosmos Percussion« is supported by the Stiftung Elbphilharmonie with funding from the Körber Foundation's »ZukunftsMusik«.

Workshops of the »World of Instruments«

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