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#2113713 - 07/06/13 11:59 AM Bach Invention No. 8 Practice Tips
JanVan Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/28/13
Posts: 51
I have been studying Bach's wonderful Invention in F Major for several weeks now and would like to get specific practice tips that you would recommend for mastering this particular piece.

My skill level is somewhere between late beginner and early intermediate, I guess.

After carefully working out a fingering based on a review of several standard editions and my own work of trial and error at the piano, I memorized the whole piece hands separate and together.

I don't experience any major difficulties but there are some aspects that I think make learning this piece quite a challenge:

1. Simultaneous arpeggios and scales in opposite directions and with different articulations (hand independence).

2. Smooth and even parallel sixths (hand coordination).

3. Fast alternating fingers in the same hand with repeated notes for finger 1 or 5 (finger independence).

I have been working the difficult passages with different rhythms (especially dotted rhythms and stops on the first or last note of each beat) and have noticed an overall improvement in my playing.

Something else I tried was playing bars 1-6 and similar passages in octaves between the two hands.

If anyone has been working on this piece recently or at some point in the past, I would love to hear what was your overall approach, what practice methods you used, and how you finally mastered the piece.

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#2113755 - 07/06/13 01:25 PM Re: Bach Invention No. 8 Practice Tips [Re: JanVan]
carey Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/13/05
Posts: 6334
Loc: Phoenix, Arizona
JanVan -

It appears that you've done a good job analyzing this Invention and identifying the challenges it presents.

If practicing difficult passages using different rhythms has improved your playing of the piece, then you should continue to do so.

I'm not quite sure what benefit can be derived from playing measures 1-6 and similar passages "in octaves between the two hands" other than to reinforce the notes for memory purposes.

Without actually hearing (and preferably watching) you play this piece it is difficult for us to know what challenges it presents for you - and to recommend other practice techniques. In any case, continued slow practice - hands separately and together - is the best course of action.

If you aren't making the kind of progress you'd like on the Invention, perhaps it would be wise to put it aside for awhile and work on something else. As a "late beginner/early intermediate" player this invention may simply be too difficult for you right now. When played up to tempo, it is not all that easy - even for more experienced pianists.

Good luck !!
_________________________
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#2113765 - 07/06/13 01:50 PM Re: Bach Invention No. 8 Practice Tips [Re: JanVan]
Thomas Williams Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/18/04
Posts: 62
Loc: NJ, USA
You're right on track with practicing the passagework in different rhythms -- that's a good practice technique for things like this. Also, try practicing the tricky passages (slowly, of course) and placing an accent first on the first 16th of each group; then accent the 2nd 16th, then the 3rd, and finally the 4th. This is related to the rhythmic practice technique and aims for the same goal, but it may be helpful to use both...perhaps on alternating days. It probably goes without saying, but also isolate the trickiest measures/phrases and practice with the metronome, starting very slowly, gradually increasing the tempo, then putting said passages back in context.
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#2114197 - 07/07/13 12:52 PM Re: Bach Invention No. 8 Practice Tips [Re: JanVan]
Steve Chandler Online   content
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/18/05
Posts: 2737
Loc: Urbandale, Iowa
You've chosen an excellent invention. For me the challenge is keeping relaxed throughout which allows me to keep the tempo up. It's very easy for tightness to creep in and by the time I get to the bar that outlines C7 toward the end the wheels will sometimes fall off the wagon. My advice to you is practice slowly and occasionally bump up the tempo, but if there's any tightness back off until you're comfortable with the tempo.

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#2114538 - 07/08/13 07:34 AM Re: Bach Invention No. 8 Practice Tips [Re: JanVan]
JanVan Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/28/13
Posts: 51
Thank you all for sharing your experiences with practicing and playing this piece and providing me with tips on how to tackle the many difficulties it presents.

After completing 3 practice sessions with the metronome, in which I gradually increased the tempo from 60 to 160 per 8th note and then from 80 to between 100-120 per beat, I notice a vast overall improvement.

I know that practicing with the metronome sometimes gets bad press, as it is often associated with mechanical and/or unmusical playing, but in my case it appears to be extremely beneficial in terms of increasing speed, developing finger memory, and getting more comfortable so that I can better relax and focus on the overall flow of the music instead of wasting my energy trying to micromanage and coerce my fingers.

It will probably still take a lot of time, effort, and dedication before I can play the whole piece beautifully from start to finish but at least I enjoy the practicing while feeling that I make some real progress at the piano.


Edited by JanVan (07/08/13 07:37 AM)

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#2114662 - 07/08/13 12:51 PM Re: Bach Invention No. 8 Practice Tips [Re: JanVan]
Thrill Science Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/04/11
Posts: 513
Loc: California
This is one of my favorites.

I would add: memorize it thoroughly, so you can play it from any measure, hands separately, very slowly! (I always check memory with slow play to make sure that I'm not simply going by inertia or muscle memory.)

To get it up to tempo, the varying rhythms, accents, etc, as suggested above is an excellent idea.
_________________________
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Thrill Science, Inc.

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#2114962 - 07/09/13 12:48 AM Re: Bach Invention No. 8 Practice Tips [Re: JanVan]
jawhitti Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/01/12
Posts: 235
I started this last fall, put it down and picked it up again a week or two ago. For me the tip half of the 2nd page is requiring a lot of very slow hands-together practice. It is frustrating because I can almost sight-read the hands separate. I find the inventions to have very demanding fingerings too, and often the sane notes are played more than once with different fingerings.

I also wish I could understand what an A7 is doing in a piece written in F. It sounds great but I can't explain why. Oh Johann, you so crazy.

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#2115002 - 07/09/13 03:05 AM Re: Bach Invention No. 8 Practice Tips [Re: jawhitti]
JanVan Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/28/13
Posts: 51
The A7 chord outlined in bar 23 is the dominant 7th chord of the key of D minor which is the relative minor key of F major.

I also love this passage where the music rapidly shifts through several keys before the glorious return of the smooth parallel 6ths followed by the rippling downward waves driving the music back home to F major.

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#2115007 - 07/09/13 03:48 AM Re: Bach Invention No. 8 Practice Tips [Re: JanVan]
Orange Soda King Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/25/09
Posts: 6070
Loc: Louisville, Kentucky, United S...
Originally Posted By: JanVan

I know that practicing with the metronome sometimes gets bad press, as it is often associated with mechanical and/or unmusical playing, but in my case it appears to be extremely beneficial in terms of increasing speed, developing finger memory, and getting more comfortable so that I can better relax and focus on the overall flow of the music instead of wasting my energy trying to micromanage and coerce my fingers.


I've never understood why the metronome sometimes gets bad press. The thing is a MIRACLE worker. Keep using it! smile I don't think metronomes lead to mechanical or unmusical playing. I think mechanical and unmusical people lead to mechanical or unmusical playing.

And keep doing slow steady practice with a metronome. Find the hardest little licks and moments and drill those, slowly. And gradually increase the metronome. With more and more (good) practice, your playing of the piece, and your piano-playing in general, will improve noticeably. smile


Edited by Orange Soda King (07/09/13 03:49 AM)

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#2115043 - 07/09/13 06:41 AM Re: Bach Invention No. 8 Practice Tips [Re: jawhitti]
jdw Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/04/11
Posts: 971
Loc: Philadelphia, PA
Originally Posted By: jawhitti
often the sane notes are played more than once with different fingerings.



The crazy ones are too! smile
_________________________
1989 Baldwin R
Currently working on:
Grieg, Papillon
Mozart, K 330
Brahms, Op. 118 no. 2

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#2115096 - 07/09/13 10:00 AM Re: Bach Invention No. 8 Practice Tips [Re: JanVan]
jawhitti Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/01/12
Posts: 235
[quote=JanVan]The A7 chord outlined in bar 23 is the dominant 7th chord of the key of D minor which is the relative minor key of F major.
[quote]

Well sure it is sense but I don't get a sense of "D minor" in that part of the piece. Starting in measures 15-16 we go into the key of Bb and spend a lot of time horsing around with Gm, then in measure 19 the Gdim (as I read it) signals that it's time to make a change. In mMeasures 20-26 the harmonies are (again, as I read them) Dm, C7, Bdim(7), A7, Gm7, C7, F7, Bb.

There's no cadence to speak of there until that C7->F7 kind of takes us home to F but then the F7 -> Bb really takes us home...to Bb for a bit before he head back into F to finish up.

Whatever's going on in measures 20-26 harmonically is eluding me.

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#2115518 - 07/10/13 05:47 AM Re: Bach Invention No. 8 Practice Tips [Re: JanVan]
drumour Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/08/05
Posts: 859
Loc: Scotland
Bars 12,13,14 - C
Bar 15 - V9 in gm
Bars 16,17,18 - gm
Bar 19 V9 in dm
Bar 20 - dm

There's no Bb tonality in that section. You're possibly not seeing the wood for the trees.

Bar 20 ends (in dm) the section bars 12-20, but also acts as a springboard for what follows - which is a bit less straightforward.

(Bar 20 -dm)
Bar 21 - (quickly becomes) C7
Bar 22 - (quickly becomes) G9
Bar 23 - (is by now in the sequence without doubt) A7
Bar 24 - dm(7)-gm7, harmony changes on second beat
Bar 25 - C(7)-F7, harmony changes on second beat
Bar 26 - Bb

Bars 21-23 are a short descending sequence which doesn't modulate from dm but which neither serves to reinforce dm; rather the mild chromaticism maintains tonal instability.


Hope this helps,

John
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