WEEK 3 Practice Updates, and a harmony micro-challenge: Cadences

Dear Pianists,


We've made it to week three of Bach in March!! Some of us started sooner and others of us started later with our pieces and it's all good - progress is persistent and always available. I look forward to seeing your practice videos below if you're interested in sharing those.


A brief reminder to sign up for the interactive masterclass with me on March 31st, and a note that the community concert has been rescheduled for April 1. The Bach in March watch party will take place in early april - be on the lookout for a message from me. I'll write you if I'd like to play your video!


The Repertoire for the interactive masterclass will involve on piece from each of the following categories: A Little prelude / invention / sinfonia, a prelude and fugue, a dance suite movement, and a Goldberg variation.


Many have asked about the Goldbergs this month, and I encourage you to check out our ongoing Goldberg variations challenge. It's never too late to start, and I always suggest committing to a variation that feels within your technical capability. How do you assess whether something is right for your level? See how far you can sight read into it, at an even rhythm and slow tempo. Do you feel like your fingers can find the right notes, where your ears seek them out? Do your hands feel strong enough to play the piece? Can you already hear the piece in your head before you begin playing?



Nico's livestream on Friday March 18  inspired me to share an idea I had with you! In pretty much all of Bach's music, cadences play an essential structural role in organizing his music.

  • Where's the first cadence or a shadow of a cadence you come across in your piece?
  • What about the end of the first section, or the first phrase?

If you haven't been able to make as much progress on your challenge piece, no worries: here's something much smaller, a micro-challenge!

Pick up that first cadence in your chosen piece, and play it as a chord progression! If you can, make a recording of that chord progression and compare it with you playing the piece up until that first cadence. How do they sound? Alike or Unlike? What do you take away?


I'll be back soon with an example, to help you better understand how to do this.




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  • Made some progress at the end of the challenge. Memorized the Siciliano. Worked more on the melody and weak sections, especially in the second half of the piece. 

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      • Hazel
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      Vidhya Bashyam I just love this transcription. Your playing is great.

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  • I'm really looking forward to hearing the performances later today in the Bach Watch Party.  This has been a very useful month.  It has crytalised a more structured approach for me when playing Bach and has led to my reviewing several sources on TB including figured bass and the underlying structures employed by Bach in his writings.  It's now clear to me that memorising a piece requires that structural understanding.  I watched  a webinair with Barbara Nissman from August 2020 on memorisation to start to work on a methodology for memorising music and one comment comes to mind which was something like, "Don't bother to try to memorise until you know the piece completely."  This month has been an inspiration to return to musical theory to solidify my comprehension of Bach's muscial structure, and later composers too, of course.  I did Grade 8 Theory forty years' ago.  That is the highest level of examination in the UK pre-music degree/diploma.  It's time to revise!  One mention off-topic, Dominic did a live session on arpeggios, which has made both a quantative and qualitative difference to my arpeggio practice.  They are so different as a result.  Thank you Dominic for that session, and for your Fugue and Cannon live streams and the analysis therein.  

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