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Worldwide

Drum Roll, Please!

Find out more about the Elbphilharmonie’s World of Instruments.

Kinder greifen meist als erstes zu den Instrumenten, die sie schon kennen, aber richtig spannend wird es, wenn sie Instrumente entdecken, die sie zuvor noch nie gesehen und gehört haben.

Benjamin Holzapfel, Leiter der Instrumentenwelt

Class 5C from local school Stadtteilschule am Hafen was the first school class to visit the new World of Instruments at the Elbphilharmonie. The young musicians were full of enthusiasm as they roamed through the Kaistudios, where school students and adults alike will soon be able to discover musical instruments every day.

The World of Instruments is part of the Elbphilharmonie’s extensive musical education programme: Just like in the different ensembles where members of the public can join in and in the supporting programme for our events, the World of Instruments gives people the opportunity to actively experience music.

Before the doors were opened and things got busy on 23 January, Benjamin Holzapfel – head of the World of Instruments, musicology and education graduate and a passionate double-bass player – gave us an insight into the new rooms and the different programmes on offer.

Music Education Programme

What is the World of Instruments Exactly?

It gives people of all ages the chance to discover music in a variety of workshops by playing it on instruments themselves. We have a unique collection of orchestral instruments and instruments from outside Europe – all of which can be tried out.

The predecessor of the World of Instruments was the Klingendes Museum (Musical Museum), which was housed in the Laeiszhalle until the summer. With the opening of the Elbphilharmonie, the instruments were moved to the Kaistudios, and many new instruments have also been added to the collection.

What makes the Elbphilharmonie’s World of Instruments special?

The workshops in the Klingendes Museum featuring orchestral instruments were a success with the public for many years, and we are continuing to offer them in the new premises. But the Elbphilharmonie offers a lot more opportunities to play music together: the rooms in the Laeiszhalle were simply too small for this.

All the courses now include not just trying out the instruments, but actually playing together. There are many new instruments, a composition course, music on iPads – we have all kinds of new things on offer.

World of Instruments / Klassiko Orchesterinstrumente
World of Instruments / Klassiko Orchesterinstrumente © Claudia Höhne

Whom is the World of Instruments aimed at?

Anyone can take part, irrespective of age; it doesn’t matter whether you’ve played music before or not. One focal point is school classes: up to four courses are put on for pupils every workday except during the school holidays and some 18,000 school students take part in one of these courses every season.

On weekends and in the afternoon, there are also courses suitable to specific age ranges are open to the general public. But in principle, we are pretty flexible as far as age is concerned.

Music Education Programme
Music Education Programme © Claudia Höhne

How many instruments do you have?

We took over 290 instruments from the Klingendes Museum, and we added quite a lot of new ones for the Elbphilharmonie, especially non-European instruments, percussion, a complete gamelan orchestra, electronic instruments – we now have a total of some 400 instruments.

World of Instruments / Kreativ Klangsafari
World of Instruments / Kreativ Klangsafari © Claudia Höhne

Where Do the Instruments Come From?

Most of the classical instruments came from the Klingendes Museum; in addition, we are in the process of signing an agreement with Yamaha, which will bring us more instruments as permanent loans.

The non-European instruments are often not available through normal retail channels. Here, we enlisted the support of a firm that specialises in such instruments; they did extensive research for us and tracked down one or two unusual items through their contacts.

World of Instruments / Klassiko Orchesterinstrumente
World of Instruments / Klassiko Orchesterinstrumente © Claudia Höhne

Which Instrument had the Longest Journey to Cover?

Definitely our gamelan orchestra! The set of instruments originally hails from Indonesia; it was used in Paris for a long time, and spent the last few years languishing in a cellar in the south of France. The instruments are 70 years old, and have led a pretty colourful life: a really special set of instruments.

What Exactly is a Gamelan Orchestra?

It’s a traditional Indonesian gong orchestra, consisting of bronze gongs of different sizes, plus metalophones, xylophones, drums and stringed instruments. Our gamelan ensemble is made up of no fewer than 45 individual instruments.

What makes it special is that it’s always played by a group. The principle of ensemble playing is central to a gamelan band: individual parts don’t work on their own, but only as one piece in a whole.

World of Instruments / Kosmos Gamelan
World of Instruments / Kosmos Gamelan © Jann Wilken

Which Instrument are you Particularly Proud of?

Just recently we acquired a really fine double bass. I didn’t have to travel all the way to Indonesia to pick it up, but it did involve a trip to the south of Germany. In my opinion, this is the new gem of our collection! But I might only be saying that because I play the double bass myself…

What’s truly special is actually the collection in itself: its size and the combination of classical and non-European instruments make it unique in Germany.

World of Instruments / Klassiko Orchesterinstrumente
World of Instruments / Klassiko Orchesterinstrumente © Claudia Höhne

What are the most popular instruments in the courses?

Children tend to start by picking up the instruments they already know: guitar, percussion, piano. But things get really interesting when they discover instruments that they’ve never seen or heard before. We try to pique their curiosity in that respect.

World of Instruments / Kreativ Klangsafari
World of Instruments / Kreativ Klangsafari © Claudia Höhne

What’s the order of play at a »Klassiko« workshop?

The Klassiko workshops concentrate on the classical symphony orchestra. The session starts with words of welcome and a short introduction for everyone, and then the participants are divided up between two rooms. The first group focuses on the wind instruments, while the second one tries out the percussion and strings, with a music teacher supervising in each case.At half-time the groups swap places, and at the end everyone gets together and plays as an ensemble. The courses last 90 minutes and the music-making is followed by a short tour of the building which ends on the Plaza.

World of Instruments / Klassiko Orchesterinstrumente
World of Instruments / Klassiko Orchesterinstrumente © Claudia Höhne

How much music can you learn in 90 minutes?

Ninety minutes isn’t long, it’s true, but it’s enough time to give the participants a general impression and to arouse their interest in one or two instruments. We often have children falling in love with a particular instrument during a workshop and declaring »I want to learn the violin«, for example. Some of them even return to a course years later and have actually learned to play an instrument in the meantime.

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