If you are looking for on organ piece which would be suitable to play by an organist with a modest organ playing skills but at the same time you want your listeners to love it, you absolutely should consider learning to play the famous Prelude and Fugue in F major, BWV 556.
This is a piece from the delightful collection of 8 short preludes and fugues, BWV 553-560, earlier attributed to J.S.Bach but now generally believed to have been composed by one of his top students, Johann Ludwig Krebs. In this article, I would like to share with you my ideas on how you can master this wonderful composition.
Before you actually start the learning and practicing process, I recommend you do the following two things – analyze the piece and write in the fingering and pedaling. This is absolutely a must if you want to become a master of this piece.
In order to analyze the prelude, you can do the following things – look at the structure of the prelude and see if you find some thematic material which is repeated somewhere in the piece. In fact, if you compare the beginning and the end of the prelude, you will see right away, that the ending is the exact repetition of the beginning. Therefore, this prelude is written in a nice ternary ABA form.
You can also look at the tonal plan of this piece. In order to find out what keys the composer uses for this prelude, just look at the cadences. They will help you discover the tonalities in their order of appearance.
If you want to analyze the fugue, I recommend you count all the subject entries in the fugue. You can also note which voice has the subject and use a pencil to mark the entries on the score. In order to know the fugue on a deeper level, you can find out the key areas for each subject entry.
After the initial analysis is done, take a pencil and mark the fingering and pedaling for both the prelude and the fugue. Note that you don’t need to wait until all the fingering and pedaling is prepared and start practicing only then. Instead, you can make the markings of the first line or so, and start practicing right away. Finish the process of writing in fingering and pedaling as you go along through the piece.
Now you are probably wondering what is the best and the most efficient way to practice this piece? My answer is this – take a fragment of about 4-6 measures long and learn each separate voice in this fragment. When I say learn, I mean strive for your playing to be free of mistakes at least 3 times in a row.
In order to avoid mistakes when practicing, always take a very slow tempo, and pay attention to such details as articulation, ornaments, fingering, and pedaling, hand and feet position, and pedal preparation. For most people, the total number of repetitions will be somewhere around 10.
When you master each voice separately in you fragment, play 2 voices at a time, then 3 voices and so on. Even though the texture becomes increasingly difficult with 2, 3 or 4 voices, always strive for perfection, stop every 4-6 measures and correct your mistakes. When you reach the end of this piece, you will also need to combine the fragments together in order to achieve the complete fluency and be ready to perform it in public.
If you really want to master this piece, join my new free limited time 7 day video mini course in playing BWV 556 in which I will teach you how to play it from scratch in just 7 days. The registration for this course ends this Wednesday at midnight, US Eastern time. As a bonus, you will also get the score with complete fingering and pedaling for easy practicing. Click here to sign up for free now:
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Drs. Vidas Pinkevicius and Ausra Motuzaite-Pinkeviciene
Organists of Vilnius University , creators of Secrets of Organ Playing.
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Don't have an organ at home?
Download paper manuals and pedals, print them out, cut the white spaces, tape the sheets together and you'll be ready to practice anywhere where is a desk and floor. Make sure you have a higher chair.