Want to know what life is like as an ANAM musician? In Between the Lines is a blog post written by one of ANAM’s first year students.
The Bach Project
Last year I decided on some repertoire goals in order to give me motivation and things to work towards. It is a very happy coincidence that a friend and I decided to play Beethoven sonatas together and that ANAM this year is undertaking a Beethoven project.
One of the other things I decided to do was to read through all 48 Preludes and Fugues of J.S. Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier (WTC). One of the pillars of Western art music, these pieces are often used for instruction and for determining whether a student can play Baroque music. Of course, Bach does not equal Baroque music, but Bach sure does constitute a large segment of Baroque music! I figured that there are 52 weeks in a year and 48 of these pieces. One a week. This plan gives me four weeks extra time to play with, should particular times of the year be too busy. Not to master and certainly not to performance standard, but to sit with each one for a week to absorb, feel somewhat more comfortable with, and explore. These are pieces that I know will sit with me for the rest of my life; one isn’t ever finished with Bach.
I started at Book 1 Number 1 (C Major) on Monday 27 December 2010. Since then, every Monday has been a new discovery of the next Prelude and Fugue, chronologically. It’s been a great motivator to get out of bed and to practice on a Monday morning: “New Prelude and Fugue day!” Okay, so I took one week off during Piano Week because we had such limited practice time. I have liked some very much; and admittedly I have liked some less. A few I have studied before, a few more I have read through before and the rest are largely quite new to me. Monday has usually seen a very lumpy read-through a few times with little concept of structure and the voices. Mid-week has seen some patchy areas ironed out a bit and by the end of the week some things are getting somewhat fluent (well, more so than on Monday!).
As of yesterday I technically finished the first book of the WTC. Every Prelude and Fugue in the first book, I have stumbled, read and played through. That’s halfway point. It feels like a pretty exciting thing to have done it for maybe even twenty minutes a day for the last 24 weeks. At the present, I am awaiting a copy of the second volume to arrive in the mail before I embark on the second half of the project, which I know will be far more difficult but satisfying. For the present, I am happy to keep persisting with #24 of the first book (B minor) which, unusually for Bach, has tempo markings and articulation.
I will let you know how I progress through Volume Two….