Bach keyboard works, Johann Sebastian Bach, piano, piano instruction, piano teaching

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

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