General subject, such as History of Music or Theory of Music are given in Utrecht. The following subjects, specific to the carillon, are given in Amersfoort:
A carillonneur plays an instrument which is public in every way. Every time it is played, it is a concert with an audience. Playing once a week means more than 50 concerts a year, so the core of the curriculum is the Main Study, one hour a week. At first, technique is the central theme but very soon pieces, in as many styles as possible, are studied. Having a broad and varied repertoire is very important.
Every week, there is a group lesson, “Harmony on the carillon”, lasting two hours. In these lessons, we improvise in various styles, play variations on folksongs, jazz numbers and pop songs. The main aim is to develop a feeling for the instrument; harmony on the carillon could also be called, “Familiarisation with the carillon”.
Twice a year there is a course consisting of four parts:
- Arranging existing music
All carillonneurs have arrangements of existing music, classical or modern, in their repertoire. They should preferably be able to make their own arrangements.
- Knowledge of the literature composed for the carillon
The carillon does not have a large repertoire. However, several composers, especially in The Netherlands, Belgium and the USA, have written for the carillon. Recently one can even speak of a flourishing avant-garde.
Knowledge of bells and carillons, their technique and history.
- Pinning ('Versteken')
Automated music; almost all carillons have ‘automated music’ which plays a tune prior to chiming the hour. The term pinning ('versteken' in Dutch) is carillon jargon, referring to the drums which are still in use in many of the older towers.
These four subjects are aimed at the professional practice of the carillonneur. Tasks are given during the lessons. The students’ results are discussed and, in relevant cases, worked out in practice. The hours for the lessons are arranged per block in consultation with the students.
The computer now has its own place in the world of the carillon. In the towers that have no traditional drum, the automated music (the tune prior to the hour chime) is activated by the computer. This has posed new problems but has also opened up new possibilities. Each year, there is a Carillon and Music-technology project, in which students are introduced to these.
There is also another project, using the computer for tone analysis and the design of bell profiles.