Toccata in Dm
by J.S. Bach

Toccata in Dm by Bach is exciting and dramatic!  Let your beginning students have the fun of playing the opening theme notes of this famous Bach music.

Almost everyone recognizes the arresting 3-note motif, "A - G - A!" and most kids will want to play this theme.  This is one of those important melodies that never lose their "coolness".

This arrangement is just the very beginning of the Toccata, the first part of page one of a four-page keyboard piece:

Toccata in Dm by Johann Sebastian Bach, arranged


Download Toccata in Dm beginning theme for piano



The timing in my beginning version is ONLY APPROXIMATE, meant to assist players in giving a feeling of drama to these phrases.  

A tip: as the notes are so close together, and there is much back-and-forth, some of my students have found it helpful to draw RED loops around the RIGHT hand notes, and LIME loops (green, in other words) around the LEFT hand notes.

I leave it to your discretion to advise your students about pedaling - but I love lots of pedal in the last line, with the C# diminished seventh chord.  

Then I suggest a very careful pedal change in the final two measures during the D suspension - have your students practice holding down the left hand D and right hand A, while the pedal goes Up-Down for the change from E to F#.  

Ask if they can hear the mystery inherent in the tension-and-release of the D suspension resolving.

Okay, the arrangement below is almost as simple as it gets.  But wait -- you're going to make it even simpler, if you take my advice!  I suggest you make it easier for your students, by teaching this little melody by rote!  

Simple piano version of Bach Toccata in Dm, for young beginners


Download simplest Bach music Toccata in Dm

Try this: Instead of giving your student this music, show them the motive on the piano: 

"Duh-duh-duh!! Down-down-down-down-DOWN, turn around!" That is my vocalization of the theme and the direction of the fingers.  

Then, just write on his or her lesson sheet, A-G-A!   G-F   E-D-C# D.   Show it split between the hands.  This way, even non-readers can have fun with this piece.

Let them work on that the first week, over & over.  Before you send them home, have them play it in descending octaves all the way down the piano.  It will be quite a feat just for them to find their spot on the piano keys reliably, over and over.

If you would like either of these arrangements with ALPHANOTES to help in the reading (letters inside some or all of the note heads), visit my Note-Naming Worksheet page.

Have fun!




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