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J.S. Bach, teaching progression (Read 4726 times)

Offline jmnbass

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J.S. Bach, teaching progression
« on: March 07, 2017, 12:03:17 AM »
Hi all,
Does anybody know the order that J.S. Bach taught his keyboard students after the 3 part inventions, including organ music and figured bass? This is what I have come up with from reading the different parts of his biographies and scouring the internet,

Finger Exercises (I am using the Schmitt op. 16, he probably used something similiar, probably more concise though, the holding exercises are great!)
Short preludes
2 and 3 part inventions
( I read that he would teach some suites before the WTC, would it be advisable to go through the English and French suites before the WTC?)
English & French suites
WTC

Where does the Art of Fugue, Partitas and Goldberg variations fit in?

Also, Where would starting his organ music fit in with this progression of material, specifically his trio sonatas, toccatas and fugues, orgelbuchen/ chorals? When did he start teaching figured bass/composition in a students study?

Thanks!

Offline hardy_practice

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Re: J.S. Bach, teaching progression
«Reply #1 on: March 07, 2017, 05:26:16 AM »
I very much doubt they did finger exercises in Bach's day.  Have you read CPE Bach's treatise?  Beethoven both used and recommended it. 
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Offline jmnbass

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Re: J.S. Bach, teaching progression
«Reply #2 on: March 07, 2017, 03:02:49 PM »
This is from one of his biographies,

"For this purpose the pupils had to practice finger exercises aimed at achieving a distinct and clean touch." According to Bach's opinion these exercises had to be continued from six to twelve months. For his more impatient students however, Bach composed (and even during their instruction periods!) small pieces which incorporated his prescribed exercises. To this category belong the six short preludes for beginners and the two-part inventions.

Sorry that was a bold statement that he might have used something like Schmitt But at least according to Forkel he did use some sort of isolated finger exercises for beginners. They might be able to be extrapolated from the short preludes and 2 part inventions.

I have read the CPE Bach treatise, what a great source!

Offline lostinidlewonder

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Re: J.S. Bach, teaching progression
«Reply #3 on: March 07, 2017, 04:42:43 PM »
The inventions were used for composition teaching more. Many wtc are very accessible it would be a shame to hold them back for a long time. I personally did a handful of small Bach pieces then went to wtc focusing more on the preludes, then added the fugues. Once I could play the fugues it opened more doors into his music and other composers, it also especially helped sight reading. If the wtc are all done then I think you can be safe doing most of his works. I think difficult transcriptions of his works would be the endgame for Bach study. I sighted all his cantatas and choral works, great for reading training. Art of fugue and Goldberg variations, partitas were not so problematic for me after conquering wtc.
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Online j_tour

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Re: J.S. Bach, teaching progression
«Reply #4 on: March 07, 2017, 09:48:16 PM »
If I had the patience or a stricter teacher back then, I kind of like the idea of pairing each Invention with the corresponding Sinfonia.  When I was going back through them a while ago, I used the pedagogical idea of the order (through the diatonic keys, ending in C minor for each set).

If you can play all or (if with some work you *could*) play the Sinfonias, I've never seen anything in the Engl. or Fr. Stes, or the WTC you couldn't play.  It's just that some of the fugues labelled as such in WTC are long (like the A minor from WTCI), and so take some more time.

I've never seen anything in Bach, including the Toccatas, that can't be played after learning the Sinfonias well.  ETA I have to add the *Goldbergs* -- yeah, what is it, like every fourth variation has some crazy sh** that I, for me, would have to practice a long time.  The ones with crossed-hands and VERY brisk running scales.  And TBH the Toccatas are hard too -- for me, it's just that they're really long and hard to learn, and often have tricky fugues.

EETA I don't see much technical difference between the Engl. Stes. and the Partitas -- it's just, for me,   a matter of  how much time it takes to learn the notes.  Some trickier than others.  I doubt there's a prescribed recipe anywhere published that can substitute for doing what you can, and, time willing, putting in the time to memorize things like the running 32-nd-notes in the E-minor Partita's "Courante."  Call me a pessimist, but I just don't think there's really any guide except what you have the time for and want to do, provided you have the absolute basic foundation, like running scales or whatever, which it sounds like you do.
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Offline themeandvariation

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Re: J.S. Bach, teaching progression
«Reply #5 on: March 07, 2017, 10:31:10 PM »
Too much J ?
  "If you can play all or (if with some work you *could*) play the Sinfonias, I've never seen anything in the Engl. or Fr. Stes, or the WTC you couldn't play. "
You haven't?

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Offline hardy_practice

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Re: J.S. Bach, teaching progression
«Reply #6 on: March 07, 2017, 10:34:07 PM »
I wouldn't go by everything Forkel said - he had his own agenda.  If it's not in CPE's treatise then Bach didn't do it IMHO.
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Online j_tour

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Re: J.S. Bach, teaching progression
«Reply #7 on: March 12, 2017, 01:45:55 AM »
Too much J ?
  "If you can play all or (if with some work you *could*) play the Sinfonias, I've never seen anything in the Engl. or Fr. Stes, or the WTC you couldn't play. "
You haven't?



No, I'll stick by what I said.  I truly have not.  I did beg out of the Toccatas and those damned little incessant hand crossing over and keeping some running scales from the Goldbergs.  The toccatas are long and there's a lot musically, and the Goldbergs -- each variation might be short, but some are tricky if played according to our standards of virtuosity, and there are a lot of them.  **ETA**Whoops, I did see I said the Toccatas would be like a cakewalk, sort of, in my earlier "post."  Well, I misunderestimated the power of human comprehending language.  I don't think that's correct:  the toccatas are hard, probably primarily because they're long.  I was probably thinking that there's no individual 44 bars in any one toccata that is overwhelmingly difficult, but then you have a lot of bars in a toccata, and then it's supposed to sound good**/eta**

Meh, the WTCs, the Stes, the Partitas, and the French Overture -- I don't see anything technically that's outside of the ballpark of any of the Sinfonias.  Musically, much more involved (sometimes less, sometimes much more), but I truly don't see any one particular technical challenge that would be a major problem for someone who wanted to play it with the background of scales, ornaments, time, everything involved in the Sinfonias.  

I didn't say, I don't think, that any of those other pieces would be easy, but that any given piece could be chosen and the student would be able to handle it, just like any other piece in the same ballpark -- possibly with a lot of work, sometimes with less effort.
My name is Nellie, and I take pride in helping protect the children of my community through active leadership roles in my local church and in the Boy Scouts of America.  Bad word make me sad.

Offline themeandvariation

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Re: J.S. Bach, teaching progression
«Reply #8 on: March 12, 2017, 03:14:43 AM »
"I don't see anything technically that's outside of the ballpark of any of the Sinfonias."

see = have played? (fully?)
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Offline georgey

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Re: J.S. Bach, teaching progression
«Reply #9 on: March 12, 2017, 05:23:06 AM »
"I don't see anything technically that's outside of the ballpark of any of the Sinfonias."

The Sinfonias are all listed on Pianostreet as difficulty level 6 and 7.  The English suits, Partitas and Goldberg variations are all 8+. Any thoughts as to why this might be?  (Goldbergs could be a 12 if the scale went that high?  Not sure.)

Also, the Goldbergs were written for 2 manual harpsichord.   11 variations are specified for 2 manuals.  Some of the hand crossings for these 11 variations can be extremely difficult if played on one keyboard.  Fingers get all tangled up.

Offline jmnbass

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Re: J.S. Bach, teaching progression
«Reply #10 on: March 14, 2017, 08:13:16 PM »
Hi all,

Thanks for the interesting replies! Just curious, what was Forkel's agenda? He was a Bach enthusiast who interviewed CPE and WF and then wrote a bio, was he in cahoots with Hanon or something?

So would you say a safe bet to start pedal technique and organ music would be after the 3-parts, maybe going through the trio sonatas first?

When and what do you think Bach would have started his organ students on?

Offline georgey

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Re: J.S. Bach, teaching progression
«Reply #11 on: March 15, 2017, 03:27:26 AM »
.

Online j_tour

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Re: J.S. Bach, teaching progression
«Reply #12 on: March 16, 2017, 07:05:46 PM »
"I don't see anything technically that's outside of the ballpark of any of the Sinfonias."

The Sinfonias are all listed on Pianostreet as difficulty level 6 and 7.  The English suits, Partitas and Goldberg variations are all 8+. Any thoughts as to why this might be?  (Goldbergs could be a 12 if the scale went that high?  Not sure.)

Also, the Goldbergs were written for 2 manual harpsichord.   11 variations are specified for 2 manuals.  Some of the hand crossings for these 11 variations can be extremely difficult if played on one keyboard.  Fingers get all tangled up.

That may be true -- I agree with the tangled-ness nature of some of the Goldbergs, but I would love to be proved wrong about any part of comparable length to one of the Sinfonias found in the WTC, the Suites, and the Partitas using some techniques that can't be assumed by the player of the Sinfonias.

I contend it's mainly a problem of length and musically handling longer pieces, as well as musically dealing with four+ voices. 

I really want to be shown if I'm wrong, but I just haven't seen it. 

Personally, I think I'm probably not the only person who secretly wishes to have a double-manual instrument for pretty much all of Bach, and thinks it causes quite a bit of mental energy to deal with adapting the music to the piano, but I'm not an expert, as I've said -- I just know what I can play or read through and have seen personally.
My name is Nellie, and I take pride in helping protect the children of my community through active leadership roles in my local church and in the Boy Scouts of America.  Bad word make me sad.

Offline hardy_practice

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Re: J.S. Bach, teaching progression
«Reply #13 on: March 16, 2017, 08:11:21 PM »
Hi all,

Thanks for the interesting replies! Just curious, what was Forkel's agenda? He was a Bach enthusiast who interviewed CPE and WF and then wrote a bio, was he in cahoots with Hanon or something?

So would you say a safe bet to start pedal technique and organ music would be after the 3-parts, maybe going through the trio sonatas first?

When and what do you think Bach would have started his organ students on?
Forkel wanted to make Bach the 'father' of the great German keyboard tradition.  In this he succeeded.

Bach's greatest organ student WF Bach raved about the sinfonias.
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Online j_tour

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Re: J.S. Bach, teaching progression
«Reply #14 on: March 23, 2017, 01:59:02 AM »
Well, here's one that, in my mind, is perfectly on-topic, but just by way of contrast, I'd like to offer up Mozart's Fantasia and Fugue in C major (I don't remember the K. number, but I assume everyone's familiar with it).

For me, *that*s an example of a piece that uses techniques not prepared for by Bach's usual student pieces (I suppose we can call those the Sinfonias, the French Suites, and most of the WTC).

Note that I'm not giving an outrageous example, like the Hammerklavier fugue, but just trying to put some perspective to the ideological and technique-oriented wars of attrition.

I still note that nobody has given an example of something relatively brief from the WTC, the Suites, or the Partitas, that couldn't be played by a student of the Sinfonias.

However, I admit I'm getting far from the OP's suggestions, which was how JS Bach himself did it -- I think everyone agrees, with all of the notebooks and recopying by his kids, that he did have a program, but given that JSB was a composer and improviser, I'm not sure if applying modern standards of technique is all that apropos.

After all, among Bach's contemporaries, I can't think of anything in Bach that would prepare one for the ... the Scarlatti sonata with the demonically fast repeated notes, I think K141. 
My name is Nellie, and I take pride in helping protect the children of my community through active leadership roles in my local church and in the Boy Scouts of America.  Bad word make me sad.

Offline themeandvariation

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Re: J.S. Bach, teaching progression
«Reply #15 on: March 23, 2017, 03:47:30 AM »
Gee, J.. "I still note that nobody has given an example of something relatively brief from the WTC, the Suites, or the Partitas, that couldn't be played by a student of the Sinfonias."

Instead of belaboring the point, - (and accounting that you attribute no value to length/(brevity) or voices - 3 or more,  is some logical way of hedging your bet.. ) why not post a few recordings displaying your implied 'familiarity' with playing all this Bach.. Being that it would be no big whoop  for one such as you, i request a modest task of hitting the recording button on your phone, and then, let it fly with some suggestions to prove your point:
WTC1 - Let's start w/ the a minor fugue, then go to the A major fugue,then g major - up to a lively dancing speed, then play the C# major fugue.  Then go to the WTC2 and play the c#minor fugue, then F major fugue, then top it off with the a minor
Then, go to the Goldbergs - 14, 5,3,11,20, 26 - and finish it of w/ 28.
then we'll go to the english suites first, and continue…

Goodluck, and looking forward to hearing the 'ease'..
 
ps
Weren't you the one - when some poster was looking for piano concerto suggestions, you mentioned the 'italian concerto'?  


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Offline hardy_practice

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Re: J.S. Bach, teaching progression
«Reply #16 on: March 23, 2017, 06:26:42 AM »
I think what most posters are missing is that the WTC and Sinfonias were first of all models of composition.  The ability to play them was taken for granted.
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Online j_tour

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Re: J.S. Bach, teaching progression
«Reply #17 on: March 26, 2017, 12:09:02 AM »
Gee, J.. "I still note that nobody has given an example of something relatively brief from the WTC, the Suites, or the Partitas, that couldn't be played by a student of the Sinfonias."

Instead of belaboring the point, - (and accounting that you attribute no value to length/(brevity) or voices - 3 or more,  is some logical way of hedging your bet.. ) why not post a few recordings displaying your implied 'familiarity' with playing all this Bach.. Being that it would be no big whoop  for one such as you, i request a modest task of hitting the recording button on your phone, and then, let it fly with some suggestions to prove your point:
WTC1 - Let's start w/ the a minor fugue, then go to the A major fugue,then g major - up to a lively dancing speed, then play the C# major fugue.  Then go to the WTC2 and play the c#minor fugue, then F major fugue, then top it off with the a minor
Then, go to the Goldbergs - 14, 5,3,11,20, 26 - and finish it of w/ 28.
then we'll go to the english suites first, and continue…

Goodluck, and looking forward to hearing the 'ease'..
 
ps
Weren't you the one - when some poster was looking for piano concerto suggestions, you mentioned the 'italian concerto'?  




First laugh of the day.  Yeah, I have admitted once here and multiple times elsewhere on non-specialist boards that it sometimes would be easier to post a brief recording or a snippet of notated music.  I have no problem with that.  It doesn't seem to be related to the original question, but I have no problem "proving" my opinion.  If I were interested in doing that, which I'm not, and if people were interested in hearing yet another random person's home recordings for no reason, which I suspect they're not.  If there's a good reason to post a recording, if it illustrates a point, that is, then good for people who do.  My sight-reading the A-minor fugue from WTCI is not going to change the fact that it's pretty long, and, I guarantee you, anybody who wants to hear it played is either going to (a) play it themselves or (b) choose one of many recordings they already have. 

Anyway, I'm not claiming to be an expert or show somebody "how it's done" -- if I make a claim, I'd expect of myself that I back it up with evidence, the same as anyone else.

What this thread is about is split between ideal pedagogy, and historical pedagogy in the late Baroque.

What's wrong with my suggestion of the Italian concerto as a first concerto for a pupil?
My name is Nellie, and I take pride in helping protect the children of my community through active leadership roles in my local church and in the Boy Scouts of America.  Bad word make me sad.

Offline themeandvariation

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Re: J.S. Bach, teaching progression
«Reply #18 on: March 26, 2017, 12:22:54 AM »
so, the opinion you are offering is based on the pieces you have not yet sight-read, much.
Great and thanks.

"and try this concerto, it has an excellent orchestral part!" lol
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Offline georgey

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Re: J.S. Bach, teaching progression
«Reply #19 on: March 26, 2017, 12:40:16 AM »

"and try this concerto, it has an excellent orchestral part!" lol

Maybe J_tour is referring to an arrangement of the Italian Concerto for orchestra and piano.

Here is a program performed by Michael Arnowitt that plays such an arrangement.

Michael Arnowitt 50th Birthday Gala Concert:

Johannes Brahms Piano Concerto no. 2 in B-flat major (entire)
Sergei Prokofiev Piano Concerto no. 2 in G minor (first movement)
J.S. Bach Italian Concerto, arranged for piano and orchestra by Michael Arnowitt
Michael Arnowitt premiere of a new classical composition, “Haiku Textures,” for three cello soloists and orchestra
Michael Arnowitt his jazz tune “Bulgarian Hoedown,” arranged for jazz violin, piano, upright bass, drums and orchestra 

Offline themeandvariation

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Re: J.S. Bach, teaching progression
«Reply #20 on: March 26, 2017, 12:47:30 AM »
"Maybe J_tour is referring to an arrangement of the Italian Concerto for orchestra and piano.

Here is a program performed by Michael Arnowitt that plays such an arrangement."

You think so? That is pretty obscure.. Not even on youtube.. If i was a bettin' guy….

  I've heard Bach appropriated  in various setting.. But when one mentions it in this context, one usually would qualify by saying, yes, it it 'jesu, joy of.. desiring...'  but it is special arrangement for steel drums. And the score may be obscure should you want to play it.. (unless you live in Vermont.) Know what i mean?

  Hey, J - It ain't a top 40 gig, where one can sightread thru the night...
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Offline georgey

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Re: J.S. Bach, teaching progression
«Reply #21 on: March 26, 2017, 12:50:15 AM »

You think so?


No, but I am not 100% sure.

Offline georgey

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Re: J.S. Bach, teaching progression
«Reply #22 on: March 26, 2017, 01:01:19 AM »

What's wrong with my suggestion of the Italian concerto as a first concerto for a pupil?


Were you referring to an obscure arrangement for piano and orchestra?

Online j_tour

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Re: J.S. Bach, teaching progression
«Reply #23 on: March 28, 2017, 01:17:56 AM »
so, the opinion you are offering is based on the pieces you have not yet sight-read, much.
Great and thanks.

"and try this concerto, it has an excellent orchestral part!" lol

Yes, ad punctum 1, that is my offering -- I don't think it's some rare ability that needs to be proved to read through a score and see what's what.  I'd certainly expect any person on a piano forum to be able to see what I see, or else to say why I'm wrong.  Here's a good example of where I've been wrong -- I was trying to side with that kid who had some questions about the G-minor Ballade of Chopin.  I responded that I'd just read through it the other night, and it wasn't that hard.  Well, I was wrong in that I stopped before the presto con fuoco part, and it'd been so long since I heard the piece I forgot it.  In general, the score settles everything, even private mistakes in opinion.

No, for the Italian Concerto, I was just making a light-hearted joke.  I see no reason anyone would take that seriously, but I'm interested in the attempts cited above at orchestration.

So, from my point of view, the Blazing Flame led to something productive, for which I'm thankful.
My name is Nellie, and I take pride in helping protect the children of my community through active leadership roles in my local church and in the Boy Scouts of America.  Bad word make me sad.

Offline themeandvariation

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Re: J.S. Bach, teaching progression
«Reply #24 on: March 28, 2017, 01:24:50 AM »
"I don't think it's some rare ability that needs to be proved to read through a score and see what's what.  I'd certainly expect any person on a piano forum to be able to see what I see, or else to say why I'm wrong."

No.  It is just indicative of a Very casual attitude towards Bach - ..Usually, when one sees his greatness, one Must play him seriously- beyond a cursory glance.. which obviously you haven't done.. This post was all about Bach… why not try juggling 4 or 5 distinct voices clearly?… 'cuz i can read it'  lol
(so have a beer and forget about it :)
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Offline jmnbass

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Re: J.S. Bach, teaching progression
«Reply #25 on: March 28, 2017, 06:11:53 AM »
I read somewhere Bach did drink alcohol and he wrote a poem about pipe smoking, and he was a coffee drinker. Why do posts like this have to turn into people flexing their muscles? Bach is about music for the glory of God, not ego, He was a human being, who happened to be a great musical craftsman/genius, that is how they treated music, as a trade, in his day.

What do you think he would have taught after the Sinfonias? I really want to know.

BTW, I am just learning piano as a hobby, that is what I like about Bach's music, it is for everyone, whether you are a rank beginner or Bach reincarnated and everything in-between.

Offline themeandvariation

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Re: J.S. Bach, teaching progression
«Reply #26 on: March 28, 2017, 09:14:29 AM »
"I read somewhere Bach did drink alcohol and he wrote a poem about pipe smoking, and he was a coffee drinker."

probably a safe bet.

      "What do you think he would have taught after the Sinfonias?"
There is scant little documentation from Bach's own hand about such matters.. In fact all we have are a few 'official' letters to his 'superiors' and local magistrates - stuff like that - which don't really reveal much insight into his music, let alone the specifics of your query.

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Offline feddera

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Re: J.S. Bach, teaching progression
«Reply #27 on: March 28, 2017, 04:32:50 PM »
I don't really get the controversy here. As a set the inventions are easier than the sinfonias, which again are easier than the wtc. However, there is still some overlap, and there are sinfonias that are more difficult than "some" pieces from the wtc. For instance, I had more trouble with the sinfonia in g minor, than the fugue in g minor from wtc book1. Also, it isn't always the case that the fugue is harder than the prelude.

Anyway, in my opinion, once you've learned a couple of sinfonias you could start learning pieces from the wtc if you wish.

Offline brogers70

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Re: J.S. Bach, teaching progression
«Reply #28 on: March 29, 2017, 12:03:36 PM »
I don't really get the controversy here. As a set the inventions are easier than the sinfonias, which again are easier than the wtc. However, there is still some overlap, and there are sinfonias that are more difficult than "some" pieces from the wtc. For instance, I had more trouble with the sinfonia in g minor, than the fugue in g minor from wtc book1. Also, it isn't always the case that the fugue is harder than the prelude.

Anyway, in my opinion, once you've learned a couple of sinfonias you could start learning pieces from the wtc if you wish.

I agree 100%. There are several fugues from the WTC that are easier than all but the b minor sinfonia, say the fugues in c minor, d minor, and d major. So if you wanted to skip most of the sinfonias and work progressively through wtc I don't see that you'd have a problem. None of it's easy or casual, but I think the idea that you need to master the sinfonias before trying WTC is too rigid.

Online j_tour

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Re: J.S. Bach, teaching progression
«Reply #29 on: April 05, 2017, 05:11:04 AM »
Anyway, in my opinion, once you've learned a couple of sinfonias you could start learning pieces from the wtc if you wish.

That's, in my experience, a natural fact.

I'm glad the thread turned back from somebody's boyfriend fight and back into music.

I do have one idea that might be interesting:  pick a key and try to find what else you can play in it.  Someone mentioned the WTCI c-minor -- well, it happens that Bach wrote quite a bit in that key, and I may not be believed, but if one can play the 2- and 3-part inventions in that key, one can certainly play the WTCI and II in that key (for my taste, I'd skip the WTCI prelude, but keep the WTCI fugue, and the WTCII prelude and fugue), as well as the Partita in C minor.  There's a French Suite in C minor also, but one might get bored.
My name is Nellie, and I take pride in helping protect the children of my community through active leadership roles in my local church and in the Boy Scouts of America.  Bad word make me sad.