J.S. Bach’s music can feel like a mystery that is too difficult to solve. The techniques required to perform his music can seem beyond reach. And listening to his music can be intimidating, because there’s SO MUCH happening!
If you feel that way too, you’re not alone.
How do you shape multiple independent melodies between your two hands? How can you hope to interpret Bach when the patterns in his music are so hard to decipher?
tonebase Piano’s newest course, Intro to J.S. Bach’s Keyboard Music, targets these frustrations by breaking down Bach’s most popular keyboard pieces and building them back into your fingers, step-by-step – taught by Columbia University Professor and distinguished Bach-specialist Magdalena Stern-Baczewska (ba-CHEV-ska).
This is the promise of tonebase, housing a library of over 500 premium lessons and interviews from the world's best concert artists and professors. Subscribers learn about technique and repertoire from Bach to the 21st-century, taught by master pianists who reveal the magic behind the music while preparing you to perform it yourself.
“J.S. Bach is one of the most important composers in the history of music. His influence spans generations of composers and continues until this day.
"During the next six lessons, you will learn from Bach himself. Bach left us instructions about what is important in music making. This will be crucial for you in becoming a well-rounded musician. A musician that Bach would have wanted you to be.”
– Magdalena Stern-Baczewska | Professor of Music @ Columbia University
Intro to Bach's Keyboard Music
Minuets in G major & G minor from “Anna Magdalena Notebook”
There is no better place to begin your Bach journey than with the famous "Minuet in G" and its counterpart in G minor. The piece is composed in a simpler style, providing an ideal entryway into Bach's more mature works of counterpoint (multiple independent singing "voices").
In this lesson, Magdalena Stern-Baczewska introduces you to foundational concepts in music theory, piano technique, and Baroque style.
Little Prelude in C minor, BWV 999
Whereas a piece like the Minuet in G trains the hands and the mind to play varied, mostly scalar patterns in two-part counterpoint, Bach's Little Prelude in C Minor trains you to think in terms of vertical harmonies, which Bach unfolds upward from the bass line in the form of broken chords.
Magdalena Stern-Baczewska reveals the framework for understanding the Prelude’s compositional design via a technique Bach utilized called “figured bass.”
Invention No. 1 in C major, BWV 772
Bach's C major Invention is one of the landmark pieces in a pianist's development, the first of fifteen written in two-parts. Bach encourages you to study them carefully and develop a cantabile (singing) playing style.
It is in this spirit that Magdalena Stern-Baczewska approaches this lesson by introducing and demonstrating the main concepts of advanced, two-part counterpoint (two independent singing "voices").
Invention No. 4 in D minor, BWV 775
While Bach's 15 Two-Part Inventions were composed with the larger purpose of providing intellectual and spiritual nourishment, they're practically speaking studies in physical coordination – obstacle courses intended to help you gain self-mastery over complex physical tasks. D Minor Invention is a prime example, posing a series of tough to maneuver challenges to the player.
Magdalena Stern-Baczewska will serve as your personal trainer, at the ready to help you surmount each obstacle in turn while applying the style and nuance this dramatic work demands.
Invention No. 8 in F major, BWV 779
While we most often associate virtuosity with the likes of Chopin, Liszt, and Rachmaninoff, Bach was no stranger to fast, brilliant, and technically demanding passagework at the keyboard. Bach challenges the developing pianist with dazzling contrapuntal writing, most notably in the F Major Invention.
Magdalena Stern-Baczewska shows how the key to mastering the piece's athletic obstacles lies in the cultivation of independence between hands. Stern-Baczewska presents you with a regimen for developing your fingers and your ear, and – as always – playing with distinction and good taste.
Sinfonia No. 9 in F minor, BWV 795
One of the greatest milestones in a pianist's development is the progression from playing Bach's Two-Part Inventions to his Three-Part Inventions, also called "Sinfonias." The reason is rather simple: humans have two hands, not three, so as a third voice must travel between hands, coordination becomes significantly more challenging.
Magdalena Stern-Baczewska points out the subtle physical movements that will allow you to balance two voices in the same hand while preserving the independent character of each motive.
The tonebase library contains 500+ premium lessons workshops from renowned performers, acclaimed pedagogues, and GRAMMY-winning artists. Pick from an array of learning paths depending on your goals, from composer and repertoire to theory and technique. New lessons every single week.
Develop your passion
Make true progress as you complete exercises and structured courses, and use downloadable scores, practice tips, and other resources to aid your journey towards piano mastery. Also, you can join an active community of 40,000+ fellow pianists who learn and grow together, while participating in live weekly events that motivate and inspire.
“I learn something from every video that I watch – whether it’s technique, interpretation, process, or even just encouragement. Thank you!”
– Ellen M. | Joined Jan. 2019
Get started with you 14-day free trial of tonebase today!