J.S. Bach – Little Prelude in C Major, BWV 939. Piano Tutorial. Lesson No. 96 for Beginners

J.S. Bach - Little Prelude in C Major, BWV 939 (polyphonic piece). Piano TutorialBach’s Little Prelude in C Major: this bright polyphonic piece may be short, but it is jam-packed with treasures!

It will offer your mind and hearing a true polyphonic ‘feast’, while your technical skills will benefit from a rigorous ‘workout’.


Today’s lesson is a follow-along adventure: simply click ‘play’, and I will guide you every step of the way toward mastering this little musical jewel.

We will learn how to:

  • make the Theme ‘speak’
  • create an expressive polyphonic dialogue between voices
  • achieve a new level of technical power and freedom
  • play with a full, deep and resonant sound
  • flawlessly coordinate ‘contrasting’ patterns, dynamics and articulation effects
  • play mordents with ease
  • master the little sparkling Cadenza
  • … and this list has only started!

Please begin by downloading the needed score (sheet music):
J.S. Bach – Little Prelude in C Major, BWV 939.

And now it’s time to begin our Lesson!

J.S. Bach – Little Prelude in C Major, BWV 939.
Piano Tutorial.

Video highlights:

00:02. Demonstration.

00:41. Warm-up tips.
01:25. The practice method we will use today.
01:47. Your mega-task.

02:17. The 1st phrase (bars 1-3). LH practice.
03:34. RH practice. Harmonic analysis.
04:50. Setting the main expressive tasks: the ‘speaking’ Theme; the ascending layout; the singing character.
05:56. Step 1: acquiring effortless power. The non-legato/staccato stage.
07:45. Step 2: making the melody ‘speak’. Acquiring clarity through good finger articulation. Slow legato.
09:14. Involving the hand in the playing process (not just the arm, wrist and fingers).
09:51. Using the ‘magnifying glass’ method.
10:23. Listening to the transitions between notes. Intonation.
11:53. Step 3: phrasing.
13:42. Step 4: dynamics.
14:57. Combining both hands together. Phrasing and ‘declamation’.

16:36. The 2nd phrase (bars 4-8). RH practice. Harmonic analysis.
18:16. Practicing the spots where the RH plays the Theme.
21:33. The spots where the RH plays the secondary voice.
22:48. Connecting the main and secondary elements. Focusing on the transitions.
25:53. Adding phrasing and dynamics.
27:29. LH practice. Where is the Theme? The way the 2 voices balance each other.
29:42. Non-legato and legato practice.
31:10. Switching our focus to sound quality and continuity.
31:55. Adding phrasing and dynamics.
32:28. Combining both hands together. Setting our ‘stereo’ polyphonic tasks. Bars 4-5.
34:27. Bars 6-8.
36:54. A few more polyphonic tips: imagining different timbres/textures simultaneously.
38:17. Connecting bars 4-8. Focusing on the dialogue between voices.
38:59. Adding phrasing and dynamics.

Get access to the full tutorial dedicated to this Prelude (and to all the other Lessons from our Video Course for Beginners) by joining PianoCareerAcademy.com! ;)

In the Members Area you will also discover many hundreds of other exclusive tutorials for all levels (including step-by-step courses and interactive projects) that reveal the professional secrets of the Russian piano school.

It’s time to hear your playing come alive and shine! 8)

Have a very inspired practice,

P.S. Many new online piano lessons and video tutorials are coming soon on PianoCareer.com! Follow me on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or Pinterest to get instant updates, support and motivation! ;)

4 Responses to “J.S. Bach – Little Prelude in C Major, BWV 939. Piano Tutorial. Lesson No. 96 for Beginners”

Read below or add a comment...

  1. Francisco Ayala says:

    I am studying the inventions in 2 voices, but I notice that the sound comes out somewhat rough and haunted. I will make a break with the inventions and study this prelude following your advice. Let’s see if I am able to get a cleaner and more fluid sound without having to do 200,000 repetitions and bore my neighbor ?. Thank you, Ilinca, for your advice and for your extraordinary work. In a few days I will enroll in your program to study very seriously. Surely in a short time I can remove the silent from my piano and play without feeling ashamed. Surely my neighbor will stop looking at me with a bad face. ? Greetings

    • Ilinca says:

      Thank you so much for your appreciation, Francisco! 🙂

      Enjoy practicing this Prelude (I hope your neighbor likes it!) – and we are looking forward to welcoming you to PCA!

      By the way, in the Members Area we have a couple of detailed tutorials on Bach’s Inventions as well.


  2. kim says:

    Hi, if I subscribe to lessons will the visual of your playing be larger. With this free tutorial I cannot make out at all times, which key you are pressing so it is difficult to reproduce my self. Many thanks.

    • Ilinca says:

      Hi Kim!

      Any video player (on any device) has a fullscreen button. Just press it – and the video will become as big as your screen. This works for my free videos, and for the ones in our Members Area as well.

      Also, in my tutorials I share the professional principles of the Russian piano school. In order to make good progress, you need to learn musical notation – instead of learning the notes by looking at what keys I press. This approach is highly unprofessional, and I discourage it.

      My videos are designed to teach you the most important (and difficult) elements of piano playing: healthy technique, expression, aural development, correct practice etc. Learning the notes is the easiest part – and you can do it by looking in the score.

      Good luck! 😉

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