Welcome to Day 5 of BWV 731 Mini Course! Yesterday I taught you how to play the last fragment in the chorale prelude Liebster Jesu, wir sind hier by Bach. If you haven't seen the material from Days 1-4, access the previous lessons and a score here.
Before learning how to take this piece to the next level, let’s review what you have accomplished in this course so far.
Hopefully you can play this prelude now by stopping at the beginning of each chorale phrase. Although you are certainly beginning to enjoy it and some earlier fragments are starting to sound really nice, you are not ready for public performance yet.
You see, in order to play this piece in public (for your friends or family, during church service, or even during a recital), you have to be able to perform it from the beginning until the end fluently without mistakes.
And until now you only were able to play each of the separate fragments without stopping. Now let’s take this piece to the next level and begin to build up your stamina, focus, and fluency.
Today I recommend you play two fragments in a row and stop at the beginning of the third chorale phrase. That’s a halfway through the piece. Then practice the second half of the chorale. Your target here should be a minimum of 3 correct repetitions in a row.
As you play, if you notice making too many mistakes, then you have to go back one step and practice each of the fragment separately.
Now, let’s talk about the registration which is important to discuss as your fluency improves.
Since this is a piece for two manuals, I recommend playing the right hand with the separate solo registration. It could be a Cornet 8’ (very common), a gentle reed, such as Oboe 8’, even a nice Principal 8’. Sometimes a slow-beating Tremulant adds to the quality of this part.
Basically any combination of mutation registration sounds good here – Sesquialtera, various Quint stops (2 2/3’ or even 1 1/3’), with or without Flute 4’. Feel free to experiment with the stops on your organ. Remember, you don’t have to have just one perfect registration for this chorale prelude. It’s perfectly fine to play this piece with different registrations according to your mood.
The left hand part is the accompaniment and could be played on a single 8’ flute. It’s possible to add something extra for more character, like Quintadena 8’ but you will have to use your ears for that.
The pedal part sounds often the best with a gentle 16’ and 8’ flute registration. You can have a lot of variety here in terms of which stops to choose from your pedal division. You can even have just a 16’ Subbass but add a manual coupler.
So get busy combining fragments 1 and 2, 3 and 4 and enjoy your practice. Just one last thing – always aim for the flowing pulse. Since this is a slow piece, it’s really easy to forget the beats in each measure. Therefore, you still have to count out loud the beats and subdivide them.
By the way, do you want to learn my special powerful techniques which help me to master any piece of organ music up to 10 times faster? If so, download my free video Organ Practice Guide.
Or if you want to learn to improvise in the style of Bach? If so, I suggest you check out my free 9 day mini course in Keyboard Prelude Improvisation.
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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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