Wednesday, December 5, 2012

J.S. Bach - Sinfonia #7 in E minor - Three Part Invention (BWV 793)

My first "real" piano lesson in college was a jarring experience.  In high school I coasted through through piano lessons, mostly getting by playing by ear and the pressure of playing in the moment.  All I needed to do was learn or write one challenging song a year and everyone would assume I was an accomplished player.  I always got "1" ratings at state piano competitions and easily impressed at all my recitals.  Problem was, I never really learned the basic necessities of playing music.   I didn't know my scales, I didn't have much technique and worst of all, I could only barely read music.

Our master college piano professor, like most others, assumed I could play.   I auditioned with striking performances of my "go to" pieces, the Gershwin Preludes and also played some random Major Scales.    That's why I'm sure it came as quite a shock to the professor when I couldn't get through sight reading the first page of a simple Beethoven Sonata on our first lesson.  "What exactly did you want to Major in here?"  The lesson had shattered my fragile ego but also reinvigorated my passion for wanting to become a better pianist.

I spent the next 4 years working through Hanon books, technical exercises and etudes.  After graduation, I felt like my sight reading and fundamentals had greatly improved.  Still, I was a long way from becoming a master of the instrument.  I spent 2 years after graduating going through a series of rhythmic scale exercises written by Lennie Tristano.  Much improved, but bored of my six year adventure in technique, I decided to start actually making music out of my daily technical practice.  

I selected Bach's three easiest contrapuntal works, the Inventions, Sinfonias and Well Tempered Clavier as my goal pieces.  After a little over a year, I have completed recording all the inventions and half of the sinfonias.  The pieces have increased my technique and musicality much more than any technical exercise ever has.  

I hope you enjoy my musical journey through J.S. Bach's music.  More importantly, I hope you can see improvement through the course of this series.  Please feel free to send any performance suggestions, leave a comment below or on the video.  Thanks for watching!

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