Jan 242013

In today’s article, Regency romance author, and Beau Monde past President, Regina Scott, muses on the importance of music to the young ladies of the Regency. As a musician herself, she can easily empathize with the musical trials and tribulations which might have been experienced by these young women who were expected to be accomplished musicians, among the other skills society required of them once they went on the marriage mart.

Regina also shares information on some of the instruments which were available to these young musicians during the Regency. Which one of them would you choose to play?

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Did you learn a musical instrument growing up? I learned to play the piano. I loved playing, but I always got in trouble for not practicing enough. And I couldn’t stand recitals. All those people watching, all those fingers flying. Not much good ever came of it, that I could see.

Fashionable young ladies in the 1800s were also expected to learn to play an instrument and to practice until they were proficient. Obviously, the young lady here has learned her lessons well. Even the cherubs have stopped to listen.

Young woman playing harp with cherubs overhead

A proper young lady would never play professionally, of course, though there were plenty of opportunities to play for family and friends. Sometimes a young musician would play for the family to entertain them after dinner. Musicales, where several people took turns playing or singing, were quite popular, at least for the proud mothers. I imagine quite a few young ladies would have preferred to stay home or play cards.

The harp was a frequent choice of instrument, as were the piano and the spinet, which was a type of harpsichord. Other types of harpsichords had mostly fallen out of favor by this time, although a few likely remained in some families. Some young ladies also learned to play the flute or violin. There was also an ophiclide, a tall, ungainly horn that was the forerunner of a tuba. I made the villainess in my current work-in-progress play that instrument. Someone like her should.

Maybe I’ll even make her give a recital.

© 2007 – 2013 Regina Scott
Originally posted at Ninteen Teen
Posted at The Beau Monde by permission of the author.

  3 Responses to “Music to Their Ears   By Regina Scott”

  1. I grew up in a musical family–everyone had to learn an instrument. I choose violin (and now I’m learning mandolin). And since we don’t have TV now (we’ve shut it off), I can tell you that having some music in the evening is a great way to get some entertainment — I can understand why everyone (young ladies and men) were encouraged to play something.

  2. I learned to play the piano and was very glad I did.

  3. I had to learn to play a recorder in grade school as well as learn to read the notes of a treble clef.
    I took piano lessons for awhile but don’t have a proper sense of rhythm. I couldn’t touch type or play the piano without looking.
    I bought an electronic organ in 1976– my children swore they wanted to learn music– they lied—. I played a little for my own amusement and consider it a triumph that I learned to play Jesu Joy of Man’s Desiring from the book of Classics made easy. Now the electronic key board is rusted. Unlike Lady Catherine de Burgh , I can not claim I would have been a good player if only I had practiced. I do wish I had talent in that direction and that I had practiced more, even if I wasn’t much good. If I had my wishes I would be multi-talented.

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