In the year of my final exams at the conservatoire I was able to spend a limited number of study hours behind the keyboard and was forced to focus on the method for mental practicing by Karl Leimer.1 It turned out to be a blessing in disguise. As frustrating and annoying as it was in the beginning not to be behind the keyboard, it soon proved to be extremely useful and effective. In order to let the physical problems calm down I decided not to move on for a master's degree in piano, but to take a break. In the years after my final exam, I was working as a piano teacher. The physical complaints disappeared and spending more hours at the keyboard was ultimately no longer a problem. The result was that mental practicing disappeared into the background and eventually even lost my interest.

Several years later, a new teacher of music theory was needed at the school where I was teaching piano and I decided to take on that task, in addition to my piano lessons. Partly because of this, in 2009 I started studying music theory as a major at the Royal Conservatory in The Hague. After completing my bachelor in music theory in 2011, I took a 'music- theoretical' break. I now had obtained a bachelor degree in classical piano, musicology and music theory.

It seemed to me at the time a nice challenge to study a solo program with only Bach's music. It struck me then that my music-theoretical knowledge was used to a limited extent at the start of the study process. Analysis and harmony played an important role at a later stage in studying the score, but this only came about after assimilating the notes. Once I realized this, the idea for my research topic started to emerge. It seemed more useful to me to use these kinds of theoretical insights from the very first glance at the notes and in this way to make studying the notes a more creative experience, by including improvisation in the initial process of assimilating the notes. So this process brought me to the subject of this research.



1.2 Personal trajectory

Theory lessons have always been a part of my musical education. Around the age of nine it all started with solfeggio lessons at a music school in Belgium. At that time you had to take solfeggio for at least one year before even starting an instrument. One year later I could finally start with piano lessons and elementary music theory also became a part of my musical education next to the ever-present solfeggio lessons.

When I was fourteen, I started studying at the Lemmensinstituut in Leuven, a high school program with extra music lessons. Theoretical subjects here included solfeggio, harmony, harmony at the keyboard, analysis and choir. When I was eighteen I went to Utrecht to study piano. Theory lessons were hardly discussed because of my previous education. The transition from high school to Conservatoire level was huge and the large amount of available 'piano time' quickly led to injuries. I therefore decided to start studying musicology in addition to piano.