Harry the Piano

As part of our first-ever virtual Music @ Ardingly concert, it was our pleasure to invite Harry the Piano to the college to deliver a series of workshops alongside a mesmerising concert performance which was live-streamed to its audience. Dubbed ‘the best damn pianist in the civilized world’ by Jonathan Ross, Harry’s inspiring musicianship was immediately evident to see however he delivered a series of wonderful improvisation and piano workshops to our students throughout the course of the week. Senior School piano students were treated to an improvisation workshop where they were able to work on their improvisation skills through using the framework provided by Harry. This included some basic theory, blues scale riffs and accompanying backing tracks, enabling them to play live in response to his direction. Harry continued this inspirational pedagogy with our Prep school musicians as they swapped the usual perspiration of the Wednesday afternoon games session for a wonderful session on basic improvisation. It was a wonderful sight to see some 50 pupils or so tuning in, sat at their pianos, playing away to the backing tracks Harry had provided. Harry delivered a hugely engaging and interesting lecture on improvisation and the associated harmonic language to our academic musicians on Wednesday evening in which the issues of 2-5-I, modal harmony and tritone substitution were discussed, and this certainly gave everyone plenty to ponder!


Arguably the highlight of the week arrived on Friday evening, as following a long week for all, Harry amazed us with his engaging musicianship, wonderful charm and comedy and details of his career to date. In a concert which was live-streamed from his piano in London, the audience were treated to his customary virtuosity and flamboyance on the piano, married with a series of requests from pupils and staff alike. Perhaps totally fittingly, Harry concluded the evening with a slightly more laid back improvisation that reflected the times we live in, but there is no doubt that Jonathan Ross’ summary of this incredible musician was fitting, as Harry inspired both pupils and audience alike in his amazing world of pianistic improvisation. We cannot wait to welcome him back to the college in person to continue this journey.


For those who missed the concert, or indeed, wish to see it again, you can view this at the following link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ledJqAYkNsw