Every piano student gets excited about playing their first piece because it's a little more fun and interesting than when we're learning notes, counting, and where our notes are on our keyboards. Pieces also let us see how much we've learned technically in our practice time; work that enables us to play harder music and actual piano pieces.
Many times we'll learn edited versions of more complicated pieces so that we can still learn some classical music at a level that we can succeed in, instead of being too hard.
Once we get to the level that we can play harder versions of these easier pieces, which is about 6 months into our first year most times, we are ready to play our first pieces by J.S. Bach!
There are so many pieces that Bach composed for the piano, it's hard actually to know where to start for your first few Bach pieces.
This lesson gives you 4 examples of pieces by Bach or composed in the style of Bach that you can easily learn.
In the video at the end of this lesson, you'll find links to each of these pieces so you can download the actual sheet music for them and have them in your repertoire. This is great because you can play them with me as well in the video in step 5.
Bach's music is so valuable to pianists because it really helps to strengthen and develop your technical skills and your musicianship at the same time.
Let's take a look at the 1st piece by Bach that I recommend for beginning piano students. I recommend that you open up the video in a new tab so you can watch it while you go through this lesson.
Step 1: 1st Piece - Prelude in C
The Prelude in C is really one of the best Bach pieces to start with when you're ready to start playing some classical music.
There are several reasons why this piece is great for beginners:
- It has an easy Key Signature to play - C Major, which has no sharps or flats
- It has easy rhythms to play and understand so you won't be overwhelmed with anything too complex
- It has easy hand and finger patterns that follow throughout the piece, so once you get the pattern down, in the beginning, you won't have to learn another one later on in the piece.
- It's easy to listen to and it is relaxing to play.
In this piece, the left-hand plays the very bottom note and the note right above that one...C&E in the 1st measure, and then C&D in the 2nd measure. This pattern repeats throughout so once you get it in the first few measures, you'll be set for the rest. All that will change will be the notes.
The measures also flow from one to the next easily...you won't have to jump around on the keyboard to hit complicated cords here...your hand will feel relaxed in this position for the entire piece.
Now let's look at the next piece that I recommend.
Step 2: 2nd Piece - Minuet in G
This Minuet is known by so many people! It's commonly thought to be a piece written by Bach, but actually it was written in the style of Bach by a composer named Christian Petzold. Because the style is so similar to Bach, it offers the same technical work that will develop your skills just as if you were playing Bach.
The reasons that the Minute in G is a great beginning piece are:
- It has an easy Key signature just like the Prelude did. In this case, the Key is G Major, which had one sharp; F#.
- It has easier rhythms than the Prelude and the patterns flow throughout the piece.
- It has easy and repetitive hand and finger patterns that aren't too difficult to play at this level.
- It is not so difficult to be overwhelming but difficult enough to challenge and develop new skills and understanding of music.
Take a minute to watch me play this on the video and see if you recognize the tune...and you'll find the link for the sheet music if you need to download it.
Now let's see another piece by Bach that is a little more difficult than these 2 pieces.
Step 3: 3rd Piece - Musette in D
Musette in D Major is such a fun piece! You can see that each piece is a bit more difficult than the one before...which is really the point. As we challenge ourselves to learn new things, we'll be able to play a lot more of the music we want to play!
Some of the reasons that the Musette in D is a good piece for beginning piano students are:
- It has an easy Key signature, although more complicated than the previous ones. D Major has 2 sharps in it...F# & C#.
- It has easy rhythms throughout the piece
- It has easy hand and finger patterns to learn and they are continued throughout the piece.
- It presents new skills to develop while not being overwhelming in asking us to learn too much at once. It also utilizes the new skills we've learned in the previous 2 pieces.
One of the neatest things about this piece is that the right and left hands mirror each other in some measures; meaning they play the same notes and rhythms, just an octave apart.
Stop here for a minute and take a look at the video so you can see and hear me play an example of this.
Now let's look at our final piece...and the name of it will sound familiar!
Step 4: Prelude in C Major
Wait..didn't we start with Prelude in C by Bach?
Yes...and we're going to end with another Prelude in C but this time it's by a composer named Johann Peter Kellner.
It's on this list because again, it is in the style of Bach, just like the 2nd piece is, so it offers the same benefits and is really a neat piece to play.
As you know from the previous 3 examples, this piece is great for beginning piano students for the same reasons, but as this is the final level, it is the most difficult of the 4 to learn.
The Key signature is easy, the rhythms are easy and the hand and finger patterns aren't too difficult. All of these are constant throughout the piece and they challenge the player without being too difficult to learn.
And...like all of these pieces, it is really nice to listen to and play.
I play a small part of this piece in the video if you want to stop and listen to that now.
Step 5: Come Practice With Me!
If you haven't been listening/watching the video while going through this lesson, take a minute or two to watch it now as I'll play samples of each of these pieces, you'll find links for downloads of the sheet music for all of them, and I'll talk about some courses that can help you learn Bach and other composers easily.
Once you watch me playing samples of these pieces you'll have a good reference for how the piece should sound all the way through, since each of these repeats the key signatures, rhythms, style of playing, and the hand/finger patterns throughout the whole piece.
I hope you enjoy learning and playing your first Bach pieces!