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Rhinegold Education Key Stage 3: Lesson 3

Musicroom is dedicated to helping you provide your child with a rich and rounded education, even during school closures. Every week we’ll be providing free outstanding, fun and rewarding music lessons for Key Stages 1, 2 and 3 that can be taught at home. Simple to use and no musical expertise is required!
This week, from Rhinegold Education, a Key Stage 3 lesson that will get you improvising and composing!
Learning Objective: improvise and compose; developing musical ideas by drawing on ideas in Bach’s ‘Prelude in C major, BWV 846’ (from The Well-Tempered Clavier, Book 1)
Length: 45 minutes.

1. Play these notes on any instrument you have:


2. Use these notes to improvise a piece of music that is at least 30 seconds long.

Record your music (e.g., on the computer) because you will need it later in this lesson. You can use some of the ideas explained below:


3. Now watch this clip of Lang Lang, playing J.S Bach’s ‘Prelude in C major BWV 846’.

The music you will hear is based on an 8-note pattern, starting with the 5 notes you have used. It also incorporates some of the ideas given above – can you tell which ones? Have a listen to the answer below.


4. Listen to this explanation of J.S Bach’s ‘Prelude in C major BWV 846’.


5. Now listen again to Lang Lang’s performance. Answer these questions:

a) How many times do you hear the 8-note pattern – 40 times, 52 times or 64 times?
b) At 1’27”, the bass note is G. That bass note is repeated a further 15 times. At what time does the bass note change?
c) Below you’ll find the chord progression for the music – can you follow the chords as you listen? (Each chord is played twice)

5b. How did you get on? Have a listen to the answers here.


5c. Listen back to the recording you made at step 2. Use some of Bach’s ideas to work this improvisation up into a composition.

The fundamental chord structure for the ‘Prelude in C major BWV 846’ is below for you to build your ideas from.


6. In the 19th Century, the French composer Charles Gounod composed a melody to fit with the chords of the Bach’s ‘Prelude in C major BWV 846’. He called it ‘Ave Maria.’

Listen to it played on a cello. (There is also a link to the sung version, at the bottom of this lesson). Listen to how the melody fits Bach’s Prelude, which is played by the piano. There are 2 small differences between Bach’s version and the version Gounod used – can you spot them?


6b. Did you spot the differences?! Have a listen to the answers below.


7. Watch this short clip of the pianist Lang Lang, describing how to play the C Major Prelude.


7a. If you play a piano or keyboard, learn to play the first four bars of the C Major Prelude:


7b. If you play a single-line instrument or sing, learn the first four bars of Ave Maria and sing it in time with one of the clips you have heard.


8. By now, you probably know J.S Bach’s ‘Prelude in C major BWV 846’ pretty well!

Listen again to the piece you composed in Step 2. How could you improve it? Could you use any of the ideas that Bach used?
You can find more information about Bach’s life and work here and here.
You can also hear the Prelude played on a guitar; a harpsichord; an organ; and there is also a stunning version for marimba here.
You can hear Ave Maria sung or played on a flute.
Pianists might like this online piano lesson, which gives step-by-step instructions on how to play the C Major Prelude.
By Tim Cain for Rhinegold Education.

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