It was as a boy of twelve or thirteen that I played the harpsichord for the first time. My early experiences of ensemble playing with the instrument took place with my contemporaries, but primarily with my Dutch teacher at secondary school and his wife, Mr and Mrs Meijer. Both were amateur recorder players, and as a young amateur harpsichordist I would accompany them. At first I would diligently play the realized basso-continuo parts, such as the ones often found in twentieth-century editions. Sometimes it was clear that one could make changes to what was in the realizations, informed by one's own insights, but my insights were not formed at that stage and I did not know where to begin. Very soon I found these realized parts boring. One day, while drinking a glass of wine (one of my first), Mr Meijer asked me, ‘Have you noticed that under the realized part, there are often figures noted down? Do you dare to play from them?’. After many wrong chords, but in the company of kind people who had also made mistakes themselves, I began to understand the system of figures a little. We played together every Saturday, and very soon I found it more pleasant to play without the chordal realizations. Then one fine Saturday afternoon, I sat down at the harpsichord to find that Mr or Mrs Meijer had taped over the right hand of the realized continuo part with an empty staff! There was no more escaping it now: I was dragged back to the bass line and the figures. After many further Saturday afternoon sessions, the results became more acceptable.