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Free Music Studies: Johann Sebastian Bach

Free Music Studies: Johann Sebastian Bach

Free Music Studies: Johann Sebastian Bach

Johann Sebastian Bach: The Boy Who Sang in the Streets

Bach was a German organist and composer during the Baroque period.

Free eBook
  • Map the following (you’ll find mapping resources below):
  • Learn more about Eisenach where Bach was born.
  • View a modern photo of Bach’s house.
  • View a modern photo of the statue at Bach House.
  • Step inside Wartburg Castle.
  • Learn more about Wartburg Castle, including information on and photos of Singers’ Hall where the German minstrels held their contests.
  • Take a side trip to learn more about herring.
  • Read a brief biography of Johann Ambrosius Bach, J.S. Bach’s father.
  • Learn a bit more about Veit Bach and his son, Hans, the Player (known for being a piper, not a violinist).
  • Learn more about Bach’s stay with his brother at Ohrdruf, including the story of his copying music by moonlight.
  • Take a rabbit trail to learn more about Benjamin Franklin.
  • Create a compare and contrast map showing the similarities and differences between Bach and Franklin as mentioned in the story.
  • Create a timeline showing the major events in Bach’s life. Include the birth of Benjamin Franklin. (You’ll find helpful resources below.)
  • Read the definition of an oratorio at, then listen to the example — a selection from the music you are to identify.
  • Learn more about the oratorio mentioned (we will be studying the composer later in the series — be sure to add him to your timeline).
  • Read more about Frederick the Great.
  • View a photo of a clavichord.
  • Hear the Well-Tempered Clavier while you follow the music (C maj. & C min.).
  • Listen to the Six Little Preludes (see links below).
  • Watch a video of the performance of one of Carl Philipp Emmanuel Bach’s pieces below.
  • Add George Washington’s birth to your timeline.
  • You can write or narrate your story on Bach notebooking pages below.
  • Use the “Some Questions” section as oral or written narration prompts.
  • More about Bach from the Book of Knowledge:

     As a ten-year-old orphan [Johann Sebastian Bach]  left Eisenach, where he was born, to live and study with his older brother Johann Christoph in a near-by town. The brothers were known by their second names. In large German families the same first name was sometimes given to more than one child.

    Sebastian’s musical training with his brother meant singing and learning choral works by the great men of the past. Most of his material could not be bought but had to be copied from a score owned by a friend or relative. Copying music is one of the best ways of learning to “hear it through the eyes.”

    In 1700 a student learned to play all of the instruments in his house: Violin, keyboard, flute — anything that was within reach — and he played them well. He used the village church for his organ study and acted as substitute when the regular organist was absent. All of this was what Sebastian Bach accepted as his normal life of study with Christoph….

    A great part of Bach’s life was spent as cantor of the Thomasschule in Leipzig. His duties there took so much of his time that it is surprising he found hours in the day for composing. Several of the forty-six huge volumes that contain his complete works are devoted to church cantatas, written when he needed them for his choirs….

    In spite of the fact that his second wife, Anna Magdalena Bach, his children, and his pupils did much of his music-copying for him, Bach overstrained his eyes and went blind. After that he dictated his compositions.

    Near the end of his life he created a series of fugues. He does not say which instruments are to perform them. These beautiful examples of polyphonic writing are called The Art of the Fugue; the series is unfinished…. He dedicated the chorale Before Thy Throne, My God, I Stand when he had but a few days to live. This composition is often used as the close of the unfinished Art of the Fugue on the rare occasions when it is performed in public.

    “Three Great Centuries in Music” from The Book of Knowledge

Our Related Units
Johann Sebastian Bach: A Unit Study

Johann Sebastian Bach: A Unit Study
Our unit study is more complete and includes resources other than those you’ll find below.

Further Investigation

J.S. Bach: Baroque Composer
Biography for kids at

J.S. Bach
Brief biography at Wartburg College.

Bach’s World
Extensive, but interesting biography in timeline form at Northern Arizona University.

The J.S. Bach Tourist
Walking tour through his life.

J.S. Bach: Timeline
Helpful for creating your own.

Selected Works

Bach: Greatest Hits
Our favorite series.

Brandenburg Concertos

“Fantasia and Fugue in G Minor”

“Prelude in C Major” (Well-Tempered Clavier)

“Tocatta and Fugue” (Introduction)

“Magnificat in D”

Six Little Preludes


Johann Sebastian Bach
Biography and selected works at

Exploring JS Bach Mass in B Minor
Excellent interactive site.

Exploring JS Bach Goldberg Variations
Excellent interactive site.

Exploring JS Bach St. Matthew Passion
Excellent interactive site.

Exploring JS Bach Well-Tempered Clavier
Excellent interactive site.

Bach Museum Leipzig
Interactive site that walks you through the exhibition.

Use this interactive at to create a timeline showing the major events in Bach’s life.


Sebastian Bach, The Boy from Thuringia
Some families really enjoy these Opal Wheeler books.

“Johann Sebastian Bach: The Child Musician”
Chapter from Stories of Great Musicians by Katherine Lois Scobey.

“John Sebastian Bach”
Chapter from The World’s Greatest Men of Music by Harriette Brower. Subtitled Story-Lives of Master Musicians, this public domain title tracks nicely with our free music studies.

Bach by Charles Francis Abdy Williams
Biography in the public domain for older students.

“Johann Sebastian Bach”
Chapter from First Studies in Music Biography also by Thomas Tapper.

“Johann Sebastian Bach”
Chapter from Essentials in Music History also by Thomas Tapper.

Child's Own Book of Great Musicians

Child’s Own Book of Great Musicians: The Complete Collection from Bach to Wagner
Complete collection on Kindle (can be read on any device).

The Gift of Music: Great Composers and Their Influence by Jane Stuart Smith & Betty Carlson
Our favorite overall music appreciation reference book. Over 300 pages long covering 43 composers along with Christmas carols. Not only covers the influence of the composer but also how his faith influenced his works. Recommended reading and listening guides at the end of each section. Highly recommended!

Unit Studies & Lesson Plans
Johann Sebastian Bach: A Unit Study

Johann Sebastian Bach: A Unit Study
Our own unit with many, many activities, musical selections, printables, and other resources not included here.

Printables & Notebooking Pages

World Map
At for locating Germany.

Germany Map
PAT map for locating Eisenach, Ohrdruf, and Leipzig, Germany.

Color Me Mozart
Sample page from Alfred Music with bio and coloring page of Bach.

Free 18-Page Composer Notebooking Set {Time Limited}
This free set of generic pages from goes perfectly with our studies.

Bach: The Boy Who Sang in the Streets Notebooking Pages
Simple pages for copywork, narrations, or wrapping up.

Enjoy the entire series:
Free Music Studies: Child's Own Book of Great Musicians
Free Music Studies: Child’s Own Book of Great Musicians

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