Studying J.S. Bach: What many piano students overlook

In the course of learning keyboard works by J.S. Bach, many students are riveted to the top most line, often ignoring alto, tenor and bass voices.

The Prelude in F minor, BWV 881, is a case in point. While sobbing thirds in the treble are attention grabbers, there’s more to the composition than meets the eye or ear. From a visual perspective, students become glued to the melody line in TREBLE clef range, and relegate the bass and tenor to alien status.

In this regard, one of my adult students who wholly (HOLY) embraces JSB’s music, had recently been awakened to what he had “overlooked.

Formerly, he’d practiced Bach’s compositions hands together without a second thought. Yet when he was asked to play only tenor and bass lines, he admitted to being “disoriented.” In truth, one can only be “oriented” by studying each voice and determining its context.

During a brief lesson segment, I prodded my pupil to sift through tenor and bass lines, (measures 20-28) while being aware of alto movement.

Not surprisingly, he gained a new perspective as he delved beneath the surface.

Bach f minor p 1 my markings

About arioso7: Shirley Kirsten

International piano teacher by Skype, recording artist, composer, piano finder, freelance writer, film maker, story teller: Grad of the NYC HS of Performing Arts, Oberlin Conservatory, NYU (Master of Arts) Studies with Lillian Freundlich and Ena Bronstein; Master classes with Murray Perahia and Oxana Yablonskaya. Studios in BERKELEY and EL CERRITO, California; Member, Music Teachers Assoc. of California, MTAC; Distance learning and Skyped instruction with supplementary videos: SKYPE ID, shirleypiano1 Contact me at: OR or at FACEBOOK: Shirley Smith Kirsten, /shirley.kirsten TWITTER: Private fund-raising for non-profits as pianist--Public Speaking re: piano teaching and creative approaches
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