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#2930044 01/04/20 10:01 AM
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The only piece I´ve played by Bach so far was minuet in G (which in fact was probably written by Petzold) and some small pieces from method books.
I know there is Anna Magdalena notebook, Inventions, Preludes, Fugues and many more. I don´t even know what the difference is between these...

Where should a beginner around Grade 1 - 2 start? Let´s say you want to start with the easiest Bach and work your way up to the more complex music.
I prefer if I could download it from IMSLP. Thanks.

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It is in Spanish, but in the second post in the following thread from a Spanish forum you can find pieces by Bach sorted by difficulty.

http://www.entre88teclas.es/foro/viewtopic.php?f=4&t=10067

Hope it helps.

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You can use piano syllabus (pianosyllabus.com) to search by composer and grade level. You will get s list of Bach 1 or Bach 2. All should be on imslp.

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There are 3 pieces frequently performed by lower level students:
1. Well Tempered Clavier Prelude in C. Just the first piece in the set.
2. Minuet III in G from keyboard Suite BWV 822. In the "First Lessons in Bach" book you see the piece listed as "Minuet" without the 3 after. The other 2 minuets before are assumed to be not at the level for beginner students.
3. Bourrée in Em from Lute Suite #1 BWV 996. This piece is also performed frequently as Classical guitar repertoire.

The WTC Prelude is the easiest to get into. You hold down the first 2 notes on the L and play the 6 R notes on top. You get the same pattern repeating all the way to the end.

Here is a sample video demo of the Bach Minuet III in G:


In early 18th century music you hear ornaments added in suites to sound better like adding salt & pepper to make food tastier. In the beginning you'd leave out the ornaments and play the notes as written which is easier.

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The Anna Magdalena notebook is a great place to start with so many good pieces worth learning, and important IMHO to stick with it for a few years. I used a simple criteria in selecting pieces which was, did I like to listen to the piece (when it is played well). Probably secondary to that I would have considered the tempo and how difficult the bass part was. This is a list of pieces I played in my first three years, sort of in order of difficulty. Note Prelude in C is not a beginner piece, but is accessible and quite enjoyable to learn. I think the rest came from the Anna Magdalena notebook (except Prelude - BWV 939), but I am not sure as I don't own that book.

Prelude in C - BWV 846
Minuet in G - BWV 114
Mussette (from English Suite No 3)
Minuet - BWV 116
Minuet in C Minor BWV 121
Polonaise BWV 125
Prelude - BWV 939


Once you are finished with the Anna Magdalena notebook have a look at some of Bach's ''Little Preludes'', which are quite challenging.


Surprisingly easy, barely an inconvenience.

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I recommend this book (as mentioned above):

https://www.amazon.co.uk/First-Lessons-Bach-Complete-Schirmers/dp/1423421922

Starts with Minuet in G and increases in difficulty throughout the book

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Prelude in C BWV 846 is NOT a beginner piece, it's approximately a grade 5 in ABRSM.


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Originally Posted by ebonykawai
Prelude in C BWV 846 is NOT a beginner piece, it's approximately a grade 5 in ABRSM.


Seriously? I’m a rank beginner and I play it. The repetitive nature of that piece makes it quite easy to sightread. You have a lot of time to prepare each measure. I know a lot of people don’t want to use the pedal in Bach but it works well to teach pedaling because you learn how to release and retake the pedal when the harmony changes with that second note in the bass. There should be no audible gap.

My teacher tells me it should be played like a prayer, and so, I pray every day by playing it.

Now, the Siloti transcription of a Bach prelude in B minor is incredibly beautiful, and the right hand is pretty easy, but the big rolled chords are out of reach for me at the moment. Both pieces are long term projects for me.

Last edited by LarryK; 01/05/20 02:20 PM.
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Originally Posted by Tom97
The only piece I´ve played by Bach so far was minuet in G (which in fact was probably written by Petzold) and some small pieces from method books.
I know there is Anna Magdalena notebook, Inventions, Preludes, Fugues and many more. I don´t even know what the difference is between these...

Where should a beginner around Grade 1 - 2 start? Let´s say you want to start with the easiest Bach and work your way up to the more complex music.
I prefer if I could download it from IMSLP. Thanks.



This piece I remember was a Grade 1 piece when I did Grade 1 as a child so that will give you some idea of standard.



If this is too difficult there are easier pieces. Prelude in C and Inventions will be too difficult.

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Per piano syllabus, RCM now rates The musette as a Grade 3

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I did a different exam. UK we have two common piano exam boards Trinity / ABRSM. They have 8 grades. RCM I think is a Canadian exam or maybe it is an american exam but it has more, I think 10 grades. Grade 1 in Trinity or ABRSM is not the same as Grade 1 in RCM.

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Just stating a fact, LarryK. You're certainly allowed to play whatever and however you like.


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Originally Posted by dogperson
Per piano syllabus, RCM now rates The musette as a Grade 3


Yep, that seems right.


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One also must keep in mind that it is humans (i.e., who are fallible and have different opinions) who slot these pieces into a particular grade or level (although it is probably a committee of humans). I’ve actually noticed that pieces can be moved up or down grades, from one edition to the next, so they’re definitely not set in stone.

Last edited by WeakLeftHand; 01/05/20 04:26 PM.

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If I live to be 100, I’ll still be chasing Bach’s music as I enjoy every piece I hear.


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Originally Posted by ebonykawai
Just stating a fact, LarryK. You're certainly allowed to play whatever and however you like.


The grade was news to me. I guess I’ll just avoid the whole concept of grades and play whatever my Russian teacher gives me. Nothing against those who go through the grades, I think I want more flexibility.

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This the book I had as a child and I enjoyed many of the pieces then. About grade 2 in Australia.

https://www.amazon.com/Childrens-Bach-Harold-ed-Davies/dp/B000X1YDK4

The named pieces but no BWV are listed down the page here.

https://trove.nla.gov.au/work/12897561?selectedversion=NBD5417215

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Actually you can see the full contents via that second link. I found myself following along to the right hand melody after all these years. My father with his dementia has my copy with him which he plays from.

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Originally Posted by LarryK
The grade was news to me. I guess I’ll just avoid the whole concept of grades and play whatever my Russian teacher gives me. Nothing against those who go through the grades, I think I want more flexibility.


The OP was was asking for Bach pieces appropriate for grade 1-2. This isn't a thread about debating grades.


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Originally Posted by ebonykawai
Originally Posted by LarryK
The grade was news to me. I guess I’ll just avoid the whole concept of grades and play whatever my Russian teacher gives me. Nothing against those who go through the grades, I think I want more flexibility.


The OP was was asking for Bach pieces appropriate for grade 1-2. This isn't a thread about debating grades.


I don’t see why I can’t comment that the C Major Prelude is not a Grade 5 piece. I have spoken with others who have played grade 5 pieces and they have told me that the other grade 5 pieces were much harder than that. I suggest it be moved to Grade 2. I have a right to post without being lectured by you. You are not a moderator.

Last edited by LarryK; 01/05/20 10:00 PM.
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