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I would not worry about the age you start them. There is always going to be someone younger or what not who did it. I was about 16-17 when I started on them. Though I started classical music pretty late.
The teacher I had for the first 8 years or so wasn't so good (although she meant well, bless her heart). I didn't get the 2-part inventions, but for some reason she loved one of the toccatas and had me work on it. She also had me playing Beethoven sonatas and Chopin etudes without being remotely prepared for them.
Then I switched to a somewhat better teacher who stopped all that nonsense (what a shock!) and gave me 2-part inventions, which I couldn't play very well because I didn't have the technical basis for them. It was very frustrating. It just didn't make sense to me that what seems like such dinky little pieces could be so hard. Plus, the music itself didn't interest me very much. I guess I was around 14 or 15.
Now, around forty years later, I enjoy playing them a lot, and have in the last few years been working on technique enough so that I actually can play some of the ones that I had such trouble with as a teenager reasonably well, at long last.
No. 8 was the first piece I ever studied outside my lesson books at 2 years in to study. I was 11 (in 6th grade), and my keyboard had that piece as a prerecorded performance. I also studied No. 1 and No. 15 soon after. Some day I should probably go back and learn some other ones. There's so much wonderful literature and so little time in each day!
Currently Studying: Bach - English Suite No. 5; Debussy - Pagodes; Brahms - Ballade Op. 10 No. 3; Alkan - Cello Sonata 4th movement (duet transcription by Alkan)
Loc: San Jose, CA
Started with No. 4 and No. 1 in high school, age 16... and that was a good long few years ago. Still working on them. Yes, they look easy to read, but are not so easy to play. My piano tech made the same comment about the Beethoven Sonatas.
"Classical" is a somewhat elastic idea to many people. Yes, J.S. Bach represents the pinnacle of the High Baroque, though he kind of bridges over periods, and in a way transcends them, too.
Is it really worth a fuss? Any chance he would care at all?
I started these in 6th grade, so I must have been 12 at the time. I think it all depends on the dexterity of the student. I loved the structure of the Inventions and they were a nice break from the Clementi exercises. Robin
Loc: San Jose, CA
Well... to correct myself before I get in trouble: in his Introduction to the anthology of works from the Baroque Period, Denis Agay remarks that the works of the sons of J.S. Bach might be placed either in the classical or the baroque periods. Not quite the same thing as placing the father there.
Loc: northern California
Originally Posted By: musiclady
Here a few of the two part inventions appear on Level 7, though most are Level 8 (there are 12 levels here for piano). I love the number 4 in D minor, and have learned most of it.
Invention in F No.8 is in a grade five level book that I have, go figure. I learned 3 of these in high school and played 2 of them for college auditions, as this was a minimal requirement back in the day. I understand now you have to play WTC. Inventions are wonderful exercises, once you learn them they are in your hands forever.
I agree with you, Barb860. Wonderful exercises yet composed beautifully. I recently discovered that I can play Mozart sonata No 8 (I have been working on it for a while) much better, seems I have overcome some technical difficulties after learning some Bach Inventions. Feels like I am killing two birds!!(I know. What a horrible English expression!) I am determined to learn all Inventions and then start on Sinfonias. I am done with about two thirds of Inventions now.
Oh, to anwer the original question, I think I started learning Inventions millions years ago when I was about 8 or so. My teachers' routine then was Hanon-Bach-and some sonatas mostly by Mozart. I quit lessons after about 10 years (on and off). Surprisingly, some Bach Inventions like No 8, 1 and 3 were still in my brain and fingers, so didn't take long to relearn at all.