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The presto section, it needs more experience, it's why we suggest not starting with this. You are likely to just get stuck on the piece if it's just too hard. There isn't always a solution.

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Since I am also old and retired, maybe I have a different perspective on this thread. Tassieguy seems to be having fun, staying interested, is playing the music that he loves, and is practicing (and playing) a couple of hours a day. This is all good. Would he make better progress if he had a teacher and tried some other music that is easier - yes, I am certain he would. But if this is what he wants to do, and he is happy doing it, then go for it!

Tassieguy, just for a different perspective - in my case - I had about 10 years of lessons beginning at age 55. I stopped lessons at age 66 and have been on my own since then, I play all kinds of music, I have always played pieces that were within my reach technically. I record myself and share those recordings in the recitals. I get frustrated if a piece takes too long and am likely to drop it and try something else. Am I an awesome player that can overcome any technical challenge? No, I am not! But I do the best I can with what I have.

Sam


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Originally Posted by Tassieguy
Do you think I am going about it the right way? Do you know of other ways?
I don't think anyone in this thread thinks you are going about it the right way, but since you insist on playing advanced pieces without adequate preparation or a teacher we can only guess at your level of mastery of these pieces.

Originally Posted by Tassieguy
Is there a way to practice trills?
Specific questions will get you specific answers. Have a look at these:



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Originally Posted by Moo :)
There an easier arrangement of the prelude



Also this which is probably as good as original

I, and I think most everyone else, thought the Siloti was based on the e minor prelude from the WTC. But Denis Zhdanov shows it's actually based on the Prelude in E Minor BWV 855a which is much closer to the Siloit in this video:

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Originally Posted by Tassieguy
So, I’ll stay with No. 10 until I get it right and hope folks here can give me insights into how best to practice it. When I’m happy with my playing of it I will make a recording and post it.

Thanks again to everyone for the responses

Rob

The first section of the prelude 10 is more doable than the rest. I doubt you can reach something close to a presto tempo for the second section. The fugue is also supposed to be played at a brisk or even fast tempo, so rather difficult too even if only in 2 voices. You can of course take a slower tempo that would suit your current skills.

The other set that is rather doable is the F sharp major BWV or the F sharp minor which can be played at a moderate tempo though there are a lot of accidentals.


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Originally Posted by Sam S
Since I am also old and retired, maybe I have a different perspective on this thread. Tassieguy seems to be having fun, staying interested, is playing the music that he loves, and is practicing (and playing) a couple of hours a day. This is all good. Would he make better progress if he had a teacher and tried some other music that is easier - yes, I am certain he would. But if this is what he wants to do, and he is happy doing it, then go for it!
I agree.

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Thank you, Sam S and pianoloverus. You are right. I'm having fun learning the music I love. Like you said, Sam S, I will never be an awesome player that can overcome any technical challenge. But I do the best I can with what I have. And I get a great deal of enjoyment from it.

I could get a teacher and focus on easier pieces but nothing else grabs me and inspires me like the WTC. There is such breadth and depth there. I will be exploring it for the rest of my life. But I don't want it to become a chore, which I fear it would become if I took formal lessons. I play for myself and I have no aspirations to give public performances. Having started at such a late age, the idea would be preposterous and doomed to failure, even with a teacher. I enjoy learning the preludes and fugues immensely and lose myself in the music. If someone who knows the WTC walks past the door of a room where I am playing and recognizes the music they hear and think it sounds good (people tell me that is the case) then I am doubly happy. That is the "level of mastery" I aim for, Bart K.

So, I'll continue with the WTC. I'm retired and in my very late 60's. I have the rest of my life to learn the WTC. There's no hurry. I'll go as far as I can get with it in the time left to me. Apart from a little Beethoven and Chopin, that's all I want to do with the piano. And when I come to particular difficulties in one of the preludes or fugues I'm grateful to be able to ask for advice here. Which is what I've done with the first section of Prelude No. 10. The difficulty there, as mentioned, is one of control in the left hand while the right does what it needs to do with all the small notes and trills. The only way I know to get better at it is to go really slow and gradually pick up the pace. Playing really slow is boring but I understand it is necessary when first starting out on a piece. That's how I learned the the preludes and fugues I can already play.

Sidokar, I'll move on to the presto section once I have the fist section under my hand. I can already play the right hand in the presto section at a reasonable pace but there's some fingering that I find a bit tricky in the left hand. But it seems doable and I'll get to it later. Once I'm happy with what I can do with Prelude No. 10 I'll move on to Prelude No.12 which is slow and seems very doable. I sometimes learn a prelude first if it is easier and leave the more difficult fugue. I come back to it later when I think I'll be able to handle it.

Thank you BartK for the videos on trills. They will be useful. Pianloverus and Moo, I will watch the videos you posted. Thanks for those.

Rob

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One more thing that I don't think was mentioned in the 3 videos I posted above is that evenness is more important than speed. In fact, if you play a trill very evenly it will sound faster than a trill that is objectively faster but uneven.

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I also practice that when I'm not playing, by tapping on my leg or on a table. It has to sound even. When it doesn't I slow down.

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Originally Posted by Bart K
One more thing that I don't think was mentioned in the 3 videos I posted above is that evenness is more important than speed. In fact, if you play a trill very evenly it will sound faster than a trill that is objectively faster but uneven.
And that applies to regular fast playing too. The presto section can still sound very lively even if played at a comfortable allegro provided that there is no unevenness between the notes. One practice technique I use is to play everything with finger staccato, then reduce the gap between the notes until it's barely legato. It works particularly well for Baroque and Classical era pieces.

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I've always been taught to learn the bach piece without the trills first so I would not worry about them if you haven't got the piece secure. I normally put trills in for other composers but with the counterpoint pieces I was taught to play the first without. I'm not sure if this is just my teacher though but may be a good thing to try.

Trills are not really the issues. Most people can play the trill on its own. It's playing an unmeasured trill whilst playing notes in the other hand that's the real difficulty so if you haven't got the other hand secure then you may think it's the trill that's the issue.

Common problems if the trill on its own is the problem. The first problem is ensuring you use the appropriate fingering for a trill. You can't really trill with 3-4 so thought needs to be given as to what fingers to use.

Another problem is getting up the speed
As for practice, I was taught to practice with build up practice especially for a long difficult trill. So you play 3 notes of the trill with both hands then stop. Then 5 notes then stop. Then the full trill.

Sometimes problems are not solved with practice or finger changes but with a change to playing technique. I was having a lot of trouble with turns and it was only when I was shown how to use some rotation when you have 3 notes together it's solved now

Good luck with the practice. There are huge blocs with Bach (and trills) but when you cross them then you find similar problems in other pieces are just doable. For example, I happily played through the turns on the second page here whereas a few months ago turns in a different piece it was a huge difficulty


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Thanks a lot, Moo.

Practicing it first without the trills sounds like a good idea. That way, if I've learned the piece and know the fingering by heart and I can play it a at reasonable pace without the trills, I can then focus on the trills as the final hurdle. In fact, I think that's about where I am now but the trills have been holding me back. So, I'll make doubly sure that I have the left hand secure first, then focus on the trills. The fingering for the trills varies so I need to study each separately. And what you said about playing, say, just three notes of a trill, then five, then the full trill makes sense to me. So I'll try that, too.

No. 10, to me, is one of the most beautiful of the preludes and I'd like to be able to play it well.

Thanks for your help with this.

Rob

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By the way, Moo, I loved the Haydn. I can see that a special technique for turns would be helpful in this piece.

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Just a comment, i was struck reading you play prelude and fugue 1 reasonably well. Prelude 1 is by far the easiest of the collection, fugue 1 one of the most difficult. I would reckon the former is maybe 2nd year, the latter 6th or 7th!

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Thank you, marklings . The first fugue is without doubt more difficult than the first prelude . But I don't find it as hard as say, Fugue No.4 or No. 8. To me, Fugue No. 1 is relatively straight forward. Why do you say it is among the most difficult?

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Thank you Tassieguy!

Now, Fugue 5 is extremely difficult, correct me if I'm wrong it's the only 5 voices fugue in book 1; luckily technically not too demanding apart from the difficulty of making heard 5 voices. Fugue 8 to me is run of the mill, 3 voices.

Now, Fugue 1. I utterly adore it, to me one of the peaks of WTC1. Most of the fugues are 3 voices; this is 4 voices. And technically not easy at all. So you compound the difficulty of 4 voices with the technical intrinsic difficulty of the writing. Also there are lots of "stretto" imitations where the voices overlap very densely. Beautiful and to me very difficult.

I want to add a personal, kind of silly note here. Where the polyphony gest very intricated (say bar 21 /22 but also other spots) brings tears to my eyes, totally overwhelms me ! So I must be a silly guy. I get emotional on difficult polyphony.

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Thanks for your response, marklings. I agree, Fugue No.5 is very difficult - all those voices and it's quite dense in parts which adds to the difficulty for me. I have left Fugue No.5 for later. Prelude and Fugue No.8 are very beautiful to me, and easier than Fugue No.5. Prelude No.8 is full of pathos and Fugue No.8 is austerely beautiful. They both move me deeply.

I don't think it's silly getting overwhelmed emotionally by the music. I do that all the time. Bach would be pleased. That he could move us like that is a measure of his genius.

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Short answer: play slow and always pick the music YOU want to learn and motivates you enough to keep trying.

I'm also self thought and I'm currently learning the prelude and fugue in C Minor n2. I'm finding it much easier than the n12 Fminor I learned my second year playing. The prelude was ok, but the fugue took me something like 6 months. As soon as I learned it I forgot about it because it was so hard that a few weeks later it was starting to fall apart and I wanted to learn other things. I then went for easier things like Aria from Goldberg Variations for example.

my tip is the same someone said here, just play it very slow, one hand at the time, when each hand can play a bit, join the two hands and work it out, block by block... If I can play something at 50bpm I can play it at 53bpm... then 55... perhaps next day at 60bpm...

I don't think it is a bad idea to try pieces that you find very difficult but I understand this is debatable because pianists with classical solid foundation probably had a linear learning. When they tackle those hard pieces they a lot of work and solid basis. Many beginners like me will just go "oh, I want to play that one!"

People told me I was crazy... I didn't even knew what I was doing, yes. But I certainly was not self limiting myself and I was stubborn as a mule. I played hours and tried and tried, watched videos, studied fingering, experimented, repeated the same motions over and over and over again. I could play that piece (not very well of course) and it was the only thing I could play besides some easy Eric Satie and one of Chopin easier Mazurkas. However I didn't care, I had so much fun. It was like cracking a mistery or solving a big puzzle. And something stayed...
The hard technical training to achieve that made other easier things feel... well.. much easier. Bach does that in my opinion, I find his music to be the absolute best to "train" me. That is why i think it is a good ideia to attack any piece as long as you enjoy it, it motivates you and you don't stop evolving. You will surely rise to the challenge, but you need to be patient and trust the time put into it.

One thing I think its good however is not let that hard piece freeze you for months... That was my only mistake tackling the 12 F minor so soon. It can lead to demotivation because you make slow progress and it's always the same piece. I could have learned 3 or 4 perfectly interesting and beautiful pieces I could play well, I could have learned scales and explore fundamental things, instead of just one fugue I never really got to play that well (but the prelude I did and it was very beautiful).

Now I'm tackling a Chopin piece I'm absolutely convinced it is impossible for me, the nocturne op48 n1 in c minor. To avoid the same problem with the fugue I'm making and effort to study other pieces, method, music reading, starting from basics and building up. The prelude will be like an "etude", I don't care if it takes me 1 year or more, i face it like a real stimulating challenge that is always superior to me and making me want to achieve something impossible. The contact with that difficult piece makes me much more at ease with less difficult pieces in technical terms, it relativizes what I can and cant do.

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Thanks, Aguia77. I think you are right. I should play slowly and always choose music that I want to learn and which motivates me enough to want to keep trying. Otherwise, what's the point?

I may make more consistent long term progress with a teacher studying graded pieces over many years, but that may mean that I will never get to what I really want to play. I'm nearly 70. I want to learn as much of the WTC as I can in the time left to me - especially the parts of it I love most. So, instead of studying and being able to play countless simpler pieces by the time I kick the bucket, I decided to go straight to what I love. I may not get through the entire WTC, and my playing may be a bit rough, but that's ok - I don't have to finish it and it doesn't need to be concert quality. It's about what I can do and enjoy now.

Like you , I have found that contact with a difficult piece (even if I never master it entirely) makes me much more at ease with less difficult pieces that may once have seemed difficult when I first looked at them. And that's why I'm glad I learned Fugue No. 1 after the much easier Prelude No.1 instead of skipping the fugue and moving on to another, easier prelude. It had nothing to do with learning the WTC in sequence as was suggested elsewhere. It was just that Prelude No.1 was relatively easy and I wanted the challenge which Fugue No.1 presented. After leaning it, I was less afraid of some of the other fugues.

I very much like the Chopin Nocturne Op48, No.1. It's one of the strongest of the nocturnes. However, I doubt I could ever get to grips with the Doppio movimento section. I wish you well with it. The E major, Op.62, No. 2, although difficult for me, is one that I find very poetic yet not impossible. If I need a short break from Bach that is what I'll go to.

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Originally Posted by Tassieguy
Thanks, Aguia77. I think you are right. I should play slowly and always choose music that I want to learn and which motivates me enough to want to keep trying. Otherwise, what's the point?

Sometimes, I chose pieces that are a bit challenging for me, and not really the music that I want to learn - because I think that struggling with that challenge for a couple of weeks will help me play the pieces that I want to play. cool


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