Lesson 201


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Hello, and welcome back! I'm Joseph Hoffman, and today we're going to learn to play the A section of
"Andante", by the composer Johann Christian Bach, son of the great Johann Sebastian Bach.
Now, remember that Johann Sebastian had twenty children and
well, that's a lot of competition for time with dad, and when you did get time with
dad, it usually meant a music lesson.
But hey, you couldn't ask for a more qualified teacher right?
Johann Christian, was Bach's youngest son, born when Bach Sr., was already fifty years old.
Like many of his siblings, Johann Christian followed in dad's footsteps and became a professional musician.
At first, working as a composer and organist for a cathedral in Italy. After that he moved to London, where
he continued to compose, he got married, and he even got a job as music master for the queen of England.
What we're listening to now is one of his compositions that probably would have been heard by the queen
herself. Let's now have a listen to "Andante" by Johann Christian Bach.
Let's check out the score for "Andante". I always like to come up here and first check out our clefts,
treble and bass clef.
Then our time signature is 3/4.
You'll see we don't have any sharps or flats for a key signature.
Which if we think about our ladder of fifths or fourths, we know
we'll be at that bottom rung, zero sharps or flats, so it could be the key of C-major or A-minor.
How would we tell? Well, our best clue is to look at the first note or the first
chord that we play, and also check out the last note or chord that we play. If you haven't already,
be sure to download and print this score yourself so you can do these activities at home.
Go ahead and pause the video, and see if you can figure out if we are in the key of C-
major or A-minor by analyzing the first
and last measure on your own. Figure out what key we're in, then press play to go on.
Did you figure out what key we're in?
Well, you can see that we start on an A, and
then if we put all of these notes together in the right hand,
we have an A C E, which forms an A-minor chord. And then what do we end on? The right hand ends on an A
here, and then the left hand,
If you put these, three notes together, A C E, we see another a minor chord ending on A.
That makes it very obvious that this piece is in the key of A-minor
Now, let's see if we can analyze some more of these chords in this first A section.
We've already figured out
that this first measure has an A-minor chord and remember our symbol for A-minor is capital A
lowercase m. In your own music at home, please write in these chord names.
And again, we're talking about these. You'll notice we have this kind of broken chord pattern,
Okay, but we're going to, for a moment, just kind of put all those notes together into one chord to analyze them.
Now, briefly looking at the left hand part, you'll see we just keep repeating this A.
When you repeat the same note in a low
voice while the chords are changing up above, we call that a
Petal Tone, and that note is not necessarily a member of the chord, which can be called a non chord tone.
So, we'll ignore this a down in the bottom for analyzing our chords. Let's just focus on the notes, we see in the
right hand.
Looking at these three notes, you'll see it's the same notes going up and down. So if we put those together,
we see we have an A D and F.
Now, what chord, is that?
Well, you can see that it's an inversion and
the clue to know a chord is an
inversion, is that there's this fourth here. Remember in the first measure, all of the notes are a third apart,
and that's our standard way to build a triad. We have our root, third,
and then fifth all put together to make the A-minor triad.
Now in this next measure where you have that A D F,
when we see that fourth we know we're an inversion.
We can take this D and F, and put it down an octave,
to see that this is actually a D-minor triad.
Now, one other trick to help with that is wherever the fourth is,
the root will always be the top note of the interval of the fourth.
So in other words, if you see a chord and you have a third and a fourth, the way to find your root,
which is the name of your chord, is look for the fourth and it's the top note of that fourth.
And so since that's a D, we know we are a D-minor chord.
Second inversion.
Now let's take a look at this next chord.
What three notes do you see?
We've got a B, a D, and can you name that note?
If you said G-sharp, you're correct.
Now, think about what I just told you and can you figure out the root of this chord?
If you said G-sharp, you're correct, because remember,
you look for the fourth, and it's the top note of the fourth. We have a third here, and a fourth here
which tells us we're an inversion. So let's look at that on the keyboard.
See we've got this G-sharp here, if we move it down here, here's our root position chord.
That's a G-sharp diminished chord.
The way we write that is with the capital G-sharp symbol, and then we can write dim.
Sometimes you can put a little circle symbol to mean diminished as well, but this is also a way you can draw it
Now for this next chord, I'd like you to pause the video and see if you can analyze and figure out this chord on
your own. Remember if the notes are all in thirds, then you're already in root position
But if you see a fourth in any interval, then you'll know
you have an inversion. See if you can figure out what the chord is, and then press play and we'll tell you the answer.
So, for this chord we have a C E and A,
and since you can see that forth there between the E and the A,
you look for the top note of the fourth, that A is our root, so we could take that A, and put it on the bottom
to get our A-minor chord. it's A-minor first inversion.
Now, why are we taking the time to analyze these chords?
I have found that when I know what chord I am playing, I will learn the
song much faster and I'll be able to memorize it better too, because it helps you find the patterns.
Now, I have three more chords for you to analyze today. I'd like you to pause the video and see if you can
analyze the chords in measures five six and seven.
Remember, if they're all in skips of a third,
you're already in root position. If you find a fourth, then
you'll have to be thinking of an inversion. So press pause, see if you can figure out these
three chords, and then press play and i'll tell you the answer.
Okay, here are the correct chords for measures five through seven. Here
we had an A C E, and you can see those are all thirds, so that's our root position triad for
A-minor. Then here, we had B D F,
once again it's already in root position. We can tell that because the notes go, line, line, line, so we know
those are all thirds.
And, how do we know it's diminished? It's because of how many half steps between each note.
Alright, that shows us that it's B diminished. You can, also tell, by the sound.
And then, here's a G-sharp
diminished chord. G-sharp B D once again in root position.
And then if we look down here at the left-hand notes, I didn't tell you to analyze this chord, you can
see the left hand comes down low here to play A C E A,
which is our A-minor root position chord.
Okay, let's come to the piano and try to play it.
First let's focus on the right hand part. And I'm going to teach you a
time-saving technique. When you're learning a piece that has a lot of broken chords like this song does,
the trick to learning this even faster, is just practice them as blocked chords. Then instead of playing five separate
notes, you can just play one thing as a blocked chord and you've just
done one thing in the space of time you could have done five things. So, we'll play this A-minor chord,
and then try this D-minor chord second inversion, which you'll probably recognize as our IV chord for A-minor.
Okay, then we come up here to this G-sharp diminished first inversion chord
using finger 1 2 5 on B D G-sharp, and
then we finish with,
An A-minor first inversion chord. Okay, so altogether we have A-minor,
and D-minor,
G-sharp diminished,
then A-minor.
Now, press pause and on your own, go through and practice those four chords playing them as blocked
chords, then press play to go on.
Good, now let's look at the next four measures we've got,
another A-minor root position chord. Go ahead and play that with
me. Then everything steps up to a B diminished root position chord. Try that with me.
Then in measure seven, we come down to this G-sharp diminished chord root position.
Now, you'll notice here in the fingering you've got a 1 3 5, which is the fingering that I prefer, but sometimes
you get a choice with fingerings.
You'll see that 2 in parenthesis, that means if that doesn't feel comfortable for you,
you can try finger 2 and see if you like that better. Okay, that's an option as well.
And then it comes to an A, and if you use the 2,
then you want to use finger 1 on A, and if use the 1, then you want to use a 2 on A.
Now, press pause and practice measures five, six, and seven,
going to that A for measure eight. Press pause to practice those chords using blocked chords,
then press play to go on.
Now, let's put all of these chords together. Going back to measure one, play these chords with
me in blocked form. So, play an A-minor chord,
good, then D-minor,
second inversion,
Good, then G-sharp diminished first inversion, B D G-sharp,
then A-minor first inversion.
Then, we come down to A-minor root position, B diminished root position,
G-sharp diminished root position,
and then A.
Now, if you need more time or practice with that, feel free to press pause
and work on your own, or rewind and try it again with me. Otherwise, let's go on and
take a look at how these notes interact with the left hand. If you scan through the left hand part you'll see
we just play A, then A, then A, then A, then A, then A, do you see a pattern? Then A,
then finally the left hand comes down here,
and plays an A-minor triad down low.
Okay? Now,
let's try and put this together with the right hand part. The left hand is going to play A on
this first, on beat 1, then you'll notice these
notes are all beamed together, so they're all eighth notes. Since we're in 3/4 time
we would count 1 and 2 and 3 and 1 and 2 and 3 and 1 and 2 and
3 and 1 and 2 and 3 and. So the left hand kicks us off on beat 1. That's a very
important note, because remember beat 1 is our strong beat in music, 1
1 2 3, 1 2 3, 1 2 3,
1 2 3, 1 2 3, 1 2 3, 1 2 3
Notice in that measure, in measure eight, we have 1 for the right hand, now plays beat 1,
then with that eighth rest, the left hand comes in on the and of beat 1. 1 and 2 and 3
1 and 2 and 3.
Now, on your own, press pause
and work on this entire section now hands together. Go really slowly at first, 1 and 2 and 3
and 1 and 2 and 3 and
Then you can gradually speed that up as you get more comfortable.
So, press pause to work on that section, then press play to go on.
Now, let's take a quick look at the dynamics.
We have this marking at the beginning,
mezzo piano, dash, piano.
Well, what that means is the first time through, we'll play it in mezzo piano,
and then when we get to the repeat sign and go back, then the second time through we'll play into piano.
So, we start mezzo piano our first time through, and then you'll see this crescendo, so we're gonna gradually build.
We're, gonna, keep building until you see that decrescendo.
That kind of tells us we're gonna hit a climax around here and then come back down, then
we grow, again.
And then we come back down
So those dynamics are giving you some suggestions of some
places you could get louder and softer, but remember even when you don't see dynamics, you can
add your own style and find other places that you can crescendo and decrescendo too.
Take these as suggestions,
but remember that you can add to it.
One last thing I want to mention, is that as you're playing this pattern,
and going up and down through this chord,
keep your wrist flexible and kind of roll with the notes a little bit.
In other words, when you move up to your pinkie, you want to kind of shift
your arm in hand a little bit to the side to line up with
that pinkie, and then rotate back down to line up with your finger 1.
It's almost gonna feel like your hand's moving in a circular motion as you play these.
Okay, you don't have to overdo it, but just make sure your wrist stays flexible and rolls with those notes
Also, be sure that your finger 5 is playing, near the tip, not flat like this.
Pinkie should be near the tip as it plays.
Once you feel pretty confident with the notes, the metronome might be a
good tool to help work on a very even and steady flow for all the eighth notes. So, maybe start it at about
126 beats per minute, and you can just play one note per click.
That will feel quite slow, but that, again, will help you keep it steady. When you can
do that with no pauses and no missed notes, you'll gradually speed that up all the way to
200 beats per minute.
Once you've got that down, you can cut it in half back down to 100, and now this is your quarter note. 1 2 3
That's actually a pretty good tempo, but if you wanted to bump that up to maybe 108,
that could be a good final performance speed as well.
See how we went from the click being the eighth note to the click meaning the quarter note.
So, use the metronome as a tool as well. Sometimes be sure to turn the metronome
off. You shouldn't always play with the metronome or your playing can become very rigid
sounding. You want the notes to have a natural flow, to them the metronome is just a tool
Great job learning how to play the A section of "Andante" by Johann Christian Bach.
There's still the B section to learn, so please work hard on mastering the A section, then I hope you'll come back
soon to learn the rest. Happy practicing and see you next time.
Boy, can you imagine being little Johann Christian and having one of the most famous
composers of all time as your piano teacher and your dad?!
That wouldn't intimidate me. I'm sure I'd thrive under that kind of expert tutelage
Really? I mean, can you imagine the pressure?
I'd be like, sorry dad that I played that wrong note in that famous piano masterpiece that you wrote!
You shouldn't be afraid of mistakes Scuba. Mistakes are how we learn.
Besides, I'm sure Johann Sebastian was encouraging to his kids. I'll bet he was an excellent teacher.
What makes you so sure?
Just look at how many of his children grew up to be famous musicians themselves!
He must have been doing something right.
You know what I think he was doing? What? Well, with twenty kids, a lot of dirty laundry,
And a lot of dirty dishes.
You know, that's a lot of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches to make for a family picnic! I don't think they
had peanut butter in 18th century Germany.
Okay, sauerkraut sandwiches then. Speaking of which, now i'm hungry. Let's go make a sandwich.
Oh boy, a picnic!