Baroque Ornamentation with Quantz

I’m very excited to announce our first online course in baroque ornamentation. We will start with a first day to see how it works out and then build onwards from there.

Apply at the bottom of the page!

We dive into ornamentation for a slow movement with Johann Joachim Quantz’s help. Quantz left us an example adagio constructed from basic building blocks. For each building block he notated several ornaments that work.

On the first day of the course we will work on learning options for one building block, and how to fill up intervals. We are using Quantz’s own Adagio!
Here is a video explaining Quantz’s general approach:

We will have two 40-minute zoom sessions with 3 students. Each student receives an accompaniment file and the table of ornaments for their building block. After the lesson you can send me one recording of your progress for more personal comments.

Each student learns at least two ornaments by heart for the building block (designated by me) and practises it with the accompaniment file. We will then meet online and play for each other. Many improvisers say the real learning happens when you play with / for other people.

Then we also work on our ear training by playing the learned ornaments for each other, and learning them from each other by ear (no worries, visual aids will be used as well if this proves too hard for a student).

We now have at least 6 options for one building block to experiment with and can experiment in the specially designed practice piece, where you will transpose and adjust these ornaments
to what is needed ‘in the wild’.

By the end of the lesson you should have practised your ears, learned a few ornaments, had fun improvising for each other and grown the desire to practice more and come to a next lesson. 🙂


Johann Joachim Quantz’s Versuch einer Anweisung die Flöte traversiere zu spielen (Berlin, 1752) is a treasure trove of information about the performance of music in the 18th century. Few other books go into this much detail and no other book gives such a pedagogical approach to building up your abilities to improvise ornamentation. It takes a while, but it’s very thorough!

…other people?
Other people will (hopefully) force you to come well-prepared. One problem with video series I made earlier is that I see people stop continuing. After all, there is no need to do it right now. Our appointment will make learning at least two ornaments unavoidable.

…also aural learning?
To open up your ears to picking up nice ornaments from friends and CDs, to diversify the learning experience and activate your inner musical ear, and finally it was also the way musicians learned in the past!

I think students at any level can learn about ornamentation. A prerequisite is being able to play the Adagio at MM=60. You can see it here on the left. Let me know if you need it transposed or in another clef.

This is most obvious on any melodic instrument, but could also work on polyphonic instruments like keyboard or lute (there are a bass and chords as well).
It could be very useful for singers too, but perhaps singers should contact me to see what the goals are and whether I can help in this format.

New dates appear regularly. If you are not free, but would like to do this course, please apply and tick that box so I can contact you with new dates later on.

One lesson, recording and material is 20€. Student fee is 5€. Do get in touch if you cannot afford the lesson. My ultimate goal is to reach as many people as possible.

To be paid through Paypal ideally, but I have a webshop as well.

Who am I?
I am Robert. You might know me from The Scroll Ensemble or our YouTube channel. If not, in short: I have improvised in various styles in classical music for the last 20 years and teach improvisation at all levels. I teach improvisation at the Conservatory of The Hague, but have also traveled around teaching in various places in Europe and even Texas!
Beside this I have taught many courses designed to teach amateur musicians to learn to improvise and even work with small children with the starting points of improvisation.
What is important for me, and what I receive most as feedback: Everyone feels safe in my class to experiment, make mistakes and learn together.

Apply here:

Baroque Improvisation Course Application Form
If you play a 'normal' modern instrument you will be at 440Hz. 415 is for baroque instruments.
(Some people have already done lesson 1 in July)
Tick as many as you could make