Bach J.S. - Little Prelude in F BWV 927
Composers throughout the ages have written material specifically to guide their pupils through the learning process and to add material to the repertoire at appropriate learning levels. J.S.Bach wrote a number of these, including this set of pieces from the Wilhelm Friedemann Bach Notebook of 1720.
It is possible that this particular Prelude may have been written by Wilhelm Friedemann under the tutelage of his father.
Pupil Match & Suitability
A good choice of piece to challenge a student of around grade 4 level.
It is good for developing even fingerwork and elements of independent coordination between hands. A solid choice of Bach for a student who has never tackled any before.
Style & Tempo
This particular prelude is a good example of a piece written expressly for the purpose of developing the kind of keyboard technique required at the beginning stage of learning.
The style is simple two part writing with some chordal work. It is an excellent piece from which to start learning to play Bach. It introduces simple and typical sequential passages.
There are one or two tricky moments where a more complex degree of coordination and thought is required (bars 8 & 9).
Phrasing & Articulation
Choice of articulation is a personal one.
In some editions ‘non legato’ is suggested at the start (RH). This is unlikely to work very well, and is possibly only suggested to emulate the separate bowing technique so typically of this kind of passage when heard on a violin, for example.
It is better to play the RH semiquavers with a clearly defined tone which is not staccato – simply clear and firm.
Tone & Texture
Given that this piece would have been played on a harpsichord, in all probability, there is little to do on a piano except to be aware that the accompanying quaver chords can sound a little overpowering if played to heavily.
A bright clear finger tone is important along with evenness of touch.
A clear well defined finger technique is essential.
Note that 'tapping' from slightly above the key surface is a good way to ensure the quality needed. (1st example)
Work out fingering according to chord patterns and shapes.
This is best done as block chord practice first as in the example here.
Treat other passages similarly.
For the purpose of this simple piece the use of added ornamentation is unnecessary.
However, note in bar 14 that a spread chord with a pause does characterize this moment rather appropriately.
A good idea is to teach the semiquaver patterns by way of chord structures and shapes. This helps to speed up the learning process and also encourages scanning.
Teach your students to play boldly from the outset.
Always encourage a slower tempo with good sound to begin with.
There are many opportunities here for you to play one hand whilst you student plays the other. This helps them to get used to the feel of playing two parts at once.
Get your students to work out a practice plan. Ask them to begin by working out the easy parts and the harder parts.
By breaking down into smaller sections the learning can be better managed.
Defining sequences is useful (eg bars 10 - 12).
Fingering should follow normal chord shapes. Therefore only encourage the writing in of essential thumb positions.
Independence of hands is the key to achieving good Baroque playing.
For some students this process will prove really hard work. Try to set out work to include easier passages as well as more demanding ones so that the student does feel that he or she is getting somewhere.
Where particular difficulties arise (eg bars 8/9), make up additional exercises - or simply add a sequence - to help them to grasp the necessary coordination.
An excellent performance will have a sense of style about the playing, along with clarity between the parts and good tone control. Choice of articulation will be a personal one, but whatever is chosen will be consistently used. Tempo will be decisive and buoyant.
A good performance will also have clarity of fiingerwork, though perhaps not quite the degree of control on tonal balance and nuance of shaping heard in this performance. There will be a sense of structure about the performance and a solid degree of tonal control.
A sound performance will be rhythmic and confident in its fingerwork for the most part. The tempo will be secure, although it may not be as quick as the marking suggests. Occasional slips may mar the fluency in parts, but recovery should be quick.