WEEK 2: Bach in March Practice Updates

As we enter week 2 of  Bach in March, I'm pleased to share that I've finished memorizing my Bach Toccata in D minor and I can't wait to play it for you on March 20 in my upcoming livestream, Counterpoint Come Alive. I'll talk about how one can use dynamics and articulation to bring out Bach's playful counterpoint.

For this week's discussion prompts, I want to shake things up a bit! Instead of me asking you questions, I want you to ask each other questions!

Here are some questions that may help you enter into conversation and understand how your fellow pianists play, practice, and experience music. Listen and read their practice update and identify something you're curious about. Then  - ask them!

  • How did you decide upon your tempo?
  • What makes you feel connected to your piece?
  • Who have you heard play this piece before?

There's always going to be a first person to post... so that's going to be me! Here's a short video of an excerpt from my D minor toccata. Please ask me a question, and I'll respond!

I'll be so curious to see what we all learn from and about one another!

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  • End of Week update: I have started working on the prelude, and have roughly gotten to measure 12.  I sadly don't think that it will be ready by the end, but I hope to post it when it is done. In the fugue, I've found that I can play with my eyes closed (more or less), and that that helps with musicality; it also showed that I knew my pieces better than I thought I did.

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    • CK
    • br0wn
    • 6 mths ago
    • Reported - view

    Hi all, would like to take this opportunity, to play these little pieces and share it with you all. Do enjoy. 

    Like 3
      • Anthony Miyake
      • Work with numbers and statistics, but music is my true passion. Piano hobbyist.
      • Anthony_Miyake
      • 6 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      CK , very nice, CK.  But given the other pieces I've heard you play, this seems like it would be more of a "cake walk" than a "challenge" for you 🙂.  

      Like
    • Michael
    • mpetnuch
    • 6 mths ago
    • Reported - view

    It's probably pretty clear from the update that I have not been practicing as much as I should :) I have a few other pieces I am working on (the 3rd movement from Schubert's D664 and Debussy's Arabesques) that have been getting a bit more of my time and attention.

     

    For such a short piece this has been proving to be so very mentally taxing for me. I can normally sit and play for 2 -3 hours easily but with Bach, I am finding it hard to focus for more than 30 minutes! And some of the fingerings in this piece are so awkward no matter what I try.

     

    However, what I am finding the most difficult is getting the voicings to sound right. I have listened to a half dozen or so recordings of this piece and just cannot figure out how to reproduce it (Andreas Schiff is my favorite). Mine still sounds like noise.

     

    I really like the frantic nature of this fugue (and prelude, which is like some machine going out of control and becoming undone). I hope I can polish this enough over the next two weeks to do it better justice.

     

    As with last week, while it's *better*, viewer discretion is advised :)

     

    Edit: my partner tells me I am too critical and that it sounds way better than the first video I posted last week :)

    Like 3
      • Anthony Miyake
      • Work with numbers and statistics, but music is my true passion. Piano hobbyist.
      • Anthony_Miyake
      • 6 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      Michael , it has come a long way in just a week.  Given the tempo you're playing it, it will also be tough to play through cleanly with all the accidentals.

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      • Michael
      • mpetnuch
      • 6 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      Anthony Miyake thank you. As per the tempo, whenever I start to record it's about 10 bpm higher. For some reason pressing that record button, when I know I am going to post, gets the adrenaline running. Need to fix that but the recording is faster than my practice temp and explains a bunch of the mistakes (plus basically falling apart at the end).

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      • GerryM
      • GerryM
      • 6 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      Michael This is coming along really well. I enjoy your phrasing- I can hear all the voices very clearly. Thank you for posting. I notice you vocalize sometimes when things don't go as planned. I do that as well, but I won't write here some of the things I say!  I'm with you too about recording. Everything is all comfortable and smooth until I turn on the recorder, then all bets are off for me...

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      • Anthony Miyake
      • Work with numbers and statistics, but music is my true passion. Piano hobbyist.
      • Anthony_Miyake
      • 6 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      Michael , yes, I know what you mean.  For me, I find that my senses get heightened when I'm recording so I'll notice some lint on the keyboard I didn't see was there when practicing.  Or I'll hold my breath during some difficult passages.  So I try to prepare by making sure the keyboard is dusted and by doing some deep breathing before hitting the record button.  Regarding tempo, it can be tricky with the fugues because the tempo will sound slower when you start with just the first voice.  You can either start with the first voice slower as it will set the tempo for the entire piece, or you can slow the tempo down with the introduction of the second voice because it will sound a little faster with two voices instead of one.  

      Like 1
    • Michael not that bad at all! You're too hard on yourself. I'm certainly familiar with that little character trait... :-)

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  • Hilda, I have enjoyed your talk on articulation, dynamics, harmony, counterpoints in Bach very much. It was a most useful session and it has help me understand how to determine all these elements based more on the structure of the music in the baroque era.  Thank you for an excellent, much needed lesson.

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  • Ok so here’s my progress on Fugue in c minor from WTC 1. A big step forward for resolution of my playing-in-front-of-others fright (even if I just record it alone at home). Let alone that I never ever intended to publish anything on YouTube, but here we go, two fears faced in one occasion. Well, I guess it’s time to do something about it.

    There’s still a lot of polishing to do, I hear this, but I believe a few good pieces of advice will help.

     

    https://youtu.be/O88T0Aehyn4

    Like 2
    • Gail Starr
    • Recently retired MBA (international consumer products/luxury goods/classical music mgt.)
    • Gail_Starr
    • 6 mths ago
    • Reported - view

    I have had WAY too many other non-piano commitments this month, so I only learned the Goldberg Aria.  More to come, I promise.

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