adult piano instruction, Bach, Bach Two Part Inventions, Chopin, Chopin Preludes, Classical music blog, Frederic Chopin, J.S. Bach, piano, piano blog, piano instruction

Chopin and Bach piano lesson excerpts

Frederic ChopinJ.S. Bach

Most students welcome recorded recaps of their lessons for practicing reminders and direction. While the editing time is significant, the overall effort results in a fine-tuned clarification of fingering, phrasing, dynamics etc. with a space margin for reconsideration of interpretation. After all, no reading within an artistic frame is set in stone.


Yesterday, I met a new student over Skype who served up one of my favorite Chopin Preludes: the E minor, Op. 28 No. 4, and a few hours later, I was immersed in the Baroque. The contrast in PERIOD, certainly elicited a different vocabulary, but on closer examination, both composers were undoubtedly kindred spirits in sharing an acute awareness of structure and harmonic rhythm.

The Chopin E Minor Prelude, for example, is not about counterpoint, but its conspicuous feature is harmonic flow and how a procession of supple wrist driven chords impinge upon phrasing the mellifluous treble line. It’s easy to poke the sonorities with a vertical approach, distorting the overall feel of two impulses per measure.

So rather than count out redundant bass note 8th notes, it makes more musical sense to group the bass chords and respond to their poignant harmonic shifts as they impact the treble.

Using the sustain pedal tastefully, without blurring sonorities fleshes out the composition’s poignant emotional dimension and requires keenly attentive listening.


J.S. Bach Invention 1 in C, BWV 772

In a 200 year retro-journey, the music explored has a Baroque vocabulary, but the singing tone rings through the ages.

In this instruction, counterpoint is the most prominent feature of an interactive piano lesson. (Giving equal attention to an overlapping conversation of TWO voices)

Analyzing the SUBJECT and its threads (complete or partial segments in various forms: inverted, framed by augmentation, etc.) are therefore vital study ingredients of the two-part Invention form.

Certainly shaping lines, and being phrase sensitive are part and parcel of all playing, though performance practice re: historical periods always factors into decision making about articulation, ornamentation etc. As for use of the sustain pedal, such applies to the Chopin E Minor Prelude but not to Bach Invention 1 where I specifically choose NOT to use pedal. (The composition is laden with step-wise movement that must be crystal clear not and not muddied by sustain) Yet I am not one of those purists who NEVER uses pedal re: Bach’s variety of works.

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