Do you want to diversify your repertoire? You should consider using some J.S. Bach Partita flute tips to help with the famous work.
I learned this piece for my junior recital in college, and it was a blast. But it was also quite a challenge, and I wish I had some of these tips to help me.
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Learn One Movement at a Time
One of the best Bach partita flute tips I can give you is to not try and learn all four movements at once. Start with one movement and get really good at it before you move to the next one.
If you’re on a time crunch, you may need to learn them all together. But try to at least compartmentalize them and practice each separately. Then, you can learn how each dance works (since the movements are based on dances).
I’d recommend learning the movements in reverse order if possible. For one, the last two movements are shorter and so easier to get through. But it can also help keep things fresh if you always start with the first movement of a piece.
You can always add repeats later. But to help speed up the learning process, I’d recommend playing without repeats for now. The repeats comprise all of the four movements, so you can cut the time in half without them.
That gives you more time to work on each section of each movement. You don’t have to worry about playing through everything twice. If you want to play the repeats, you can.
However, if you don’t have a ton of extra time in your recital, you may want to leave the repeats out. Be sure to consult with your teacher if you’re in school to see what they think about playing repeats or not.
Listen to Baroque Specialists
Another one of my favorite Bach Partita flute tips is to listen. But don’t just listen to any recording you find. Instead, look for recordings by Baroque specialists, such as Sandra Miller.
Modern players tend to treat the Partita like a virtuosic work. However, it’s supposed to be more fun and emulate the dances: Allemande, Corrente, Sarabande, and Bouree.
Listening to specialists can give you an idea of how to use performance practice when playing the work. Then, you can better perform the Baroque style, and you won’t wear out your fingers from playing so fast.
Get an Urtext Edition
If you have yet to buy the sheet music (or are okay with getting a new copy), look for an urtext edition. That means the music won’t have a ton of edits from a specific player, so you can add your own markings based on your interpretation.
As you listen to recordings and work through the piece, you may come up with your own phrase ideas. For the slow movement, you can also add any ornaments that you want to.
If you buy an edition with tons of markings, that won’t be as easy. Sure, you could use whiteout on some of them. But that can be annoying to have to do, so it’s better to get a clean copy from the start.
Recognize the Keys and Cadences
One of the challenges of playing unaccompanied music is that you don’t have a pianist to play the chords. You have to be both the soloist and the accompaniment, which is difficult on the flute.
As you work through each movement, look for cadence points. Some are easy to find, but others can be trickier. When you find one, make note of it. You can add a breath mark or make a circle around the note.
Then, when you play the movement, you’ll know to emphasize that note. That can also help you figure out good places to pause. Especially for the first and second movements, you don’t get much of a break, so adding the occasional pause can be nice.
Go Measure by Measure
Another one of my best Bach Partita flute tips is to work on the music a measure at a time. The movements and even the phrases can be overwhelming, so it’s easier to break the piece into smaller chunks.
Playing a measure at a time can help you identify the hardest bars for you. Then, you can dedicate more of your practice time to those. You can sort of speed past the measures you know well.
If you don’t have a lot of time to practice, you need to be efficient. So as you go through the movements, make a list of the measures to work on. Then, you’ll know how to spend your time.
Use a Practice Guide
If you want to really learn the J.S. Bach Partita, it helps to have some guidance. Sure, many players get this in the form of private lessons. But maybe you’re too busy for lessons, or you can’t afford them.
That’s where a Bach Partita practice guide comes in. You can get more specific tips and background information on the music. I created a practice guide based on my experience learning and performing this piece.
The guide includes notated exercises to help you learn the music. You’ll also get an edition of the score if you don’t have one yet. But you can use the rest of the guide with any edition that you may have.
Play on Flute and Piccolo
If you play the flute and piccolo, you should play the J.S. Bach Partita on both instruments. Sure, you’ll probably only ever perform it on the flute. But playing it on the piccolo can help you get the hang of it.
You get an excuse to practice your piccolo and improve your playing. And you don’t have to spend time practicing something completely new. Plus, I know that when I switch from piccolo back to flute, my flute playing seems easier.
If you have a similar experience, try running through the music or a smaller section on your piccolo. Then, give it a try on your flute. Go through the rest of the piece on your piccolo if your flute playing gets better after that experiment.
You’ve probably already heard this, but you should practice the Bach Partita under the performance tempo. Then, you’ll be able to work on getting the correct notes and rhythms.
If you only ever play it up to speed, you can miss a lot of those details. Sure, that may be okay if you’re learning the music for fun. But this piece is difficult, so it’s safe to assume your goal is probably to perform it.
To help make your performance go smoothly, start slow. Work it up to your ideal performance tempo over time. That way, when your recital date arrives, you’ll feel confident playing the music.
Do You Have to Learn the J.S. Bach Partita?
You don’t have to learn this piece specifically. But you might have to if you’re in school and your teacher assigns it to you.
Even if you don’t need to learn the work, you can use these J.S. Bach Partita flute tips to learn other Baroque works. Then, you can perform whatever piece your heart desires.
Is the J.S. Bach Partita Hard to Learn?
Learning the J.S. Bach Partita is pretty hard. The National Flute Association (NFA) grades it at one of the highest/hardest levels.
However, with the right practice strategies, you can learn the piece. Then, you can play it on a recital or make a recording of it.
Get More J.S. Bach Partita Flute Tips
If you’re looking to learn more unaccompanied Baroque flute works, you should learn the Bach Partita.
It’s such a famous yet difficult piece, so you need the right tools. To help you learn the music efficiently, download the J.S. Bach Partita Practice Guide!