Grace Notes: Noel Nouvelet Nightmare!

It’s nearly Christmas, so I thought I’d tell you an amusing (and adorable….) festive story. I started learning my grade one pieces when I was about 6. I got the orange ABRSM book and my teacher played all of the pieces to me and I chose one piece from each of the three sections. The first piece was Noel Nouvelet. This was by far the hardest piece I had ever seen and it’s safe to say I never quite mastered it… (the recordings below are thankfully not of me playing… Grace in 2000 seemed constantly at odds with this lovely tune!)

I think the modal key threw me a tad. I hadn’t quite mastered major and minor yet and the new folky sound didn’t sit well with my little fingers. I also couldn’t quite deal with the sudden changes from quavers in crotchets and back again. It made me cry quite a lot…

I often practiced in the kitchen so that my dad could keep an eye on me and give me help with the tricky rhythms. This meant that my violin got splashed with bits of food fairly often, which was often commented on by my teacher! Even with the tears and the tuning, I still managed to get a merit in my exam, and I haven’t ever played the piece since…

Grace violin 2000

Me playing in a concert at Junior Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama in 2000.

To get you in the Christmas mood for Thursday, I’d like to show you a couple of beautiful recordings of Noel Nouvelet (just because I can’t play it, doesn’t mean I don’t like it…).

The piece is a French folk carol, so here it is being sung by a female trio in a traditional style.

Here is a more formal version sung by the Choir of King’s College, Cambridge.

(I don’t own any of the above videos)

I hope you all have a very merry Christmas and I’ll see you in a week or two!


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