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THE BACHSCHOLAR® PIANO METHOD

Videos and curricula for The BachScholar® Piano Method are introduced on this website and all WRP members are welcome and encouraged to incorporate the principles into their daily practice; however, it will still be a few years until the complete method (in several volumes) is published in book form. At this time (Dec. 2017), at least until the method is published, the required books for the method are:

      1. SIGHT-READING & HARMONY (2017, BachScholar Publishing)
      2. J.S. BACH:  24 Easy Four-Part Chorales (2017, BachScholar Publishing)

The BachScholar® Piano Method (referred to hereafter as “TBSPM”) is a comprehensive system that emphasizes technique, theory, and sight-reading. It is designed for piano students of all ages and works especially well with adult students and mature younger students ages 10 and up. With expert supervision from qualified teachers, TBSPM is also very effective for children under 10.


Most methods and systems promote fast playing, which usually results in careless and sloppy
scales and arpeggios played with a harsh tone. Moreover, most methods and systems rarely teach
or require all scales and arpeggios to be played in contrary motion. TBSPM teaches the opposite --
carefully controlled and perfectly executed scales and arpeggios played in both parallel and contrary
motion with a beautiful tone played at only moderate tempi, as demonstrated in this video. This is
the most efficient way to achieve an effortless technique and gain vast theoretical knowledge.



The “ripened fruit” of over 30 years of piano teaching by Dr. Cory Hall, TBSPM is not repertoire specific as most other piano methods and grading systems, which means it does not consist of graded pieces (although lists of recommended pieces will soon be available). Instead of traversing through a graded selection of pieces as done by most methods and systems, TBSPM focuses solely on a specially devised comprehensive curriculum of scales, triads, arpeggios, chords and cadences, ear training, sight-reading, and other essential skills of piano technique and musical theory. Special emphasis is given to the practice, playing, and analysis of four-part chorales by J.S. Bach -- in either two parts for beginners or four parts for more advanced students -- since this unduly neglected style represents the ultimate pinnacle of piano playing.

TBSM is intended to be used as a “supplemental method” to enhance the teaching of all the aforementioned areas not included by whatever piano method or system one may be using. Each piano method has its own unique characteristics and strengths and all piano teachers have their preferences. Some prefer older methods like Thompson and Aaron, others prefer newer methods like Alfred, Faber, or Piano Safari, while others prefer testing systems such as ABRSM, RCM, or Trinity. This is all fine and good, as each method and testing system has its own strengths and has something unique to offer students and teachers. After all, there is no such thing as the one and only “perfect piano method.” Dr. Hall, has used many piano methods throughout his long teaching career, has prepared students for ABRSM, RCM, and Trinity exams, and likes some aspects of each of these methods. There really is no such thing as a “bad” piano method. Thus, it may be emphasized again that TBSPM is meant not as a “replacement” but rather as a “supplement” to whatever method or testing system one happens to be using.

TBSPM was created because virtually all piano methods are incomplete in their presentation and teaching of scales, triads and inversions, arpeggios, chords and cadences, ear training, sight-reading, and other areas. Piano teachers and students do not need yet another piano method with cute pictures and trendy songs or a system with all the familiar scale and arpeggio requirements, but rather, are in desperate need of clear and straight-forward instruction on the order of "what" techniques to learn first and next, and guidance on “how” to practice these techniques with the aid of up-close and personal videos.          

Students and teachers who follow TBSPM’s carefully designed and progressive curricula will gain knowledge and skills that are seldom if ever given their due diligence by other piano methods. In addition, students and teachers will be instructed on "what," "how," and "when" to practice these skills with carefully planned and progressively increasing "Grades." The following essential skills, usually not included in the curricula of most piano methods and testing systems, are given primary importance in TBSPM:

      • Beginners learn the chromatic scale, one of the most enjoyable and useful of all scales, from the very beginning, in parallel and contrary motion as well as in 3rds, 6ths, and 10ths. Most methods ignore the chromatic scale in belief that it is the most difficult scale; however, this belief is unfounded. In reality, the chromatic scale is the least difficult of all the scales and beginners need to learn it in all its forms as early as possible.
      • Beginners learn ALL the major scales, one octave, in parallel as well as contrary motion.  Most methods do indeed teach most if not all of the major scales, however, usually ignore virtually all contrary motion scales except perhaps C major.
      • Beginners learn ALL the three forms of minor scales, one octave, in parallel as well as contrary motion.  Most methods ignore many of the minor scales, except for the ones beginning on white keys, and virtually none teach the minor scales in contrary motion. This conditions beginners and early intermediate students, and some teachers, into believing that learning minor scales in contrary motion is a super advanced skill only for super advanced pianists. This belief is, of course, unfounded. The earlier students learn minor scales in contrary motion, the better. This includes minor scales that begin on black keys.   
      • Beginners learn ALL the major and minor triads and their inversions in parallel as well as contrary motion.  Most methods do indeed teach triads and inversions, however usually only in one or two keys and almost never in minor keys or in contrary motion. The earlier students learn triads and inversions in all major and minor keys, the better. It cannot be ignored.
      • Beginners learn to read the soprano and bass lines of easier Bach chorales and church hymns, which builds solid foundations for the reading of four-part chords, for sight-reading in general, and for learning to play simple melodies and bass lines with a beautiful singing tone.  All methods unfortunately ignore this absolutely vital skill and stay away from Bach chorales and church hymns. This is a shame, since Bach's four-part chorales and church hymns offer the absolute best material for learning chords, cadences, and sight-reading. Moreover, virtually all methods never mention anything about how to achieve a beautiful, singing tone ("cantabile") which was so highly valued by J.S. Bach as well as virtually all other composers.
      • Beginners learn how to play and differentiate between staccato, legato, and short two- and three-note slurs.  Most methods teach these modes of articulation, which is further explained and reinforced with hands-on video lessons on WRP. 
      • Beginners are taught not only the correct notes for the scales and triads, but also, exactly “where” to place their fingers on the keys and what the optimal curvature should be for each finger depending on whether a white or black key is being played.  Most methods unfortunately do not mention anything about finger placement.
      • Late beginners and early intermediate students learn ALL FOUR types of triads (major, minor, diminished, augmented) and their inversions in a specially designed progression of exercises, which builds a solid foundation for playing and understanding harmonies and chords.  Virtually all methods ignore the four types of triads for this early and critical stage of a student's development, and as a result, students are usually ill-prepared in the understanding and naming of chords in the pieces of music they are currently studying.  
      • Intermediate-level students learn ALL the major and minor scales in parallel 3rds, 6ths, and 10ths.  Most methods unfortunately ignore most if not all of these important modes of scale harmonizations. 
      • Intermediate-level students learn ALL the major and minor arpeggios, two octaves, in parallel as well as contrary motion. Most methods do indeed teach many arpeggios, however usually only a few of them and almost never in contrary motion.
      • Intermediate-level students learn to play easier four-part chorales by Bach and three- and four-part church hymns, which builds a solid foundation for:  1) controlling four voices; 2) harmonic analysis; 3) attaining finger independence; 4) achieving intelligent voicing; 4) learning cantabile playing; 6) using the damper pedal.  See the above explanation about Bach chorales and church hymns.
      • Intermediate-level students learn the most encountered polyrhythms in piano music, 2:3 and 3:4, which builds a strong foundation in maintaining rhythm and control of timing.  Most methods do not teach 2:3 and 3:4 polyrhythms, which is unfortunate, since it never prepares students for two of the most popular pieces in the piano literature, Debussy's "First Arabesque" and Chopin's "Fantasie-Impromptu," which are full of 2:3 and 3:4 polyrhythms from beginning to end.
      • Advanced students continue with all of the above at a higher level and with higher standards.
      • Advanced students learn to play some of the more difficult four-part chorales by Bach, which is the ultimate pinnacle of piano playing and musicianship.  See the above explanation about Bach chorales and church hymns.
The BachScholar® Piano Method is -- in the areas of music theory, technique, and sight-reading -- the most thorough and comprehensive piano method in the world today. For this reason, each "Grade" in TBSPM is at least two and sometimes four grades higher than comparable grades in other methods or systems. This means that students who embark in serious study of TBSPM will often need to do remedial work. For example, a typical student who passes "Grade 6" of ABRSM will often not be able to pass "Grade 2" of TBSPM due to all the major and minor scales in contrary motion. A typical "Grade 6" ABRSM student may be able to play four-octave scales in parallel motion fast; however, this does not mean (and usually does not) that this student will be able to play all the scales slowly in contrary motion for just one octave. Moreover, a typical "Grade 6" student in virtually any method or system today most likely has never played a four-part chorale by Bach, which often requires remedial work in reading four-part harmonies. With patience and diligence, TBSPM is guaranteed to give piano students the most solid foundations in music theory, technique, and sight-reading.  

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