Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Playing in the lobby - more thoughts on the James Cancer Hospital

I have posted about playing at the Ohio State University James Cancer Hospital a few posts ago, but I decided to circle back with some additional thoughts.

So what have I learned from playing at the James?  First and foremost, I have learned that for the most part I have good health.  From the piano bench, I have seen a lot, particularly cancer patients, lots of them, fighting their individual health challenges with great courage and dignity.    I have seen family members, wheeling their loved ones in the lobby, simply trying to have a few better moments, than the moments they are facing on the other hospital floors.  I have seen physicians, so many physicians, in full on scrubs, white coats, and even the little head coverings, meaning they probably just finished a surgery.  I have seen med students and nurses, hundreds of them, moving quickly often
picking up a lunch, eating on the go, and on the way to the next  breakthrough, exam or family meeting.  And I have seen volunteers, yes, people giving of their time in a small way, to make a difference for the patients and families fighting cancer.

From the piano bench, it is easy to get lost in the music.  I hope I know this well enough.  I hope this is a piece that someone will like.  I hope it's okay if I practice my favorite church hymns.  And wow, I hope they like Aretha as much as I do.  I often smile, when a busy physician walks by trying to hum whatever tune I am playing.  And I particularly like it when just about any physician or nurse can belt out a tune from Lion King or the Little Mermaid.  And this is crazy, but I even heard a physician sing Strangers in the Night when he walked by, and I wasn't even playing it.  But honestly, almost anyone can chorus a doobee doobee doo in tune.

When I first started playing at the James, I almost felt sick when I saw patients, families, visitors or medical personnel, sitting at the tables by the piano.  I would say to myself "Oh God (and that's a prayer) I can't wait to screw up.  Or, I didn't practice this one carefully enough, or I can't do this, I'm just an amateur.  However, the last time I played about a month ago, I realized that what the volunteer musicians are providing, is simply pure relief from the difficult medical challenges going on with the  patients, their family members and their friends.

Several months ago, a nurse actually sat down on the bench when I was playing Natural Woman, and he did sing.  In fact, he even asked me when I would be back so he could sing again.  I think he was just happy to have a few minutes off.  I have known a few nurses in my life, and they are on the front lines of patient care, often working 12 hour shifts, and making quick and tough decisions with a smile.

I have even seen friends.  That is one of the toughest things, because again, you are seeing folks you love going through medical challenges.  Pure courage is about the only thought I can muster when I see friends going through the lobby. They are putting one foot in front of the other, and I often say, could I be that brave, could I be that strong?

On a lighter note, as a fashion oriented person, I do not like wearing a James Hospital polo.  As a Michigan State Spartan it is difficult on any day to wear scarlet or gray.  But when I think about putting up with my blasted polo, I always remind myself, that it's a small price to pay to give people some music for one short hour.  The polo says you are a part of a team, a team of amazing people making a difference.

Sometimes while playing I hear physicians walking by, talking about a medical procedure, or even a small break through, and I start to say, maybe some of these challenging cancers will be cured.  I don't know if they will, but I can have hope and I will have hope.  Yep, you can't take hope away from me.

I have about 25 pieces copied and in a white binder.  I also bring along a few extra music books, just in case I run out of pieces, or simply want to play something different.  I add that I end with the Ohio State University alma mater Carmen Ohio.  I never thought I would play that piece, but I think on some small level it makes a difference.  Carmen Ohio is really a hymn called Come, Ye Children of the Lord.  It is a Spanish melody arranged by Benjamin Carr   The words were created in 1881 by James H. Wallis

The text of the first verse is as follows
Come, ye children of the Lord,
Let us sing with one accord,
Let s raise a joyful strain
To our Lord, who soon will reign
On this earth, when it shall be
Cleansed from all iniquity ;
When all men from sin will cease
And will live in love and peace.

There are two other verses as well.

As the OSU story goes, in 1903, Fred Cornell a freshman at Ohio State, and a backup defensive end, and a member of the Ohio State Glee Club, wrote the lyrics to Carmen Ohio, following a devastating loss to the University of Michigan.  Not sure if this is the correct story, but blog followers can email me at with the correct facts.    I will add that Carmen is Latin for song and the title Carmen Ohio literally means Ohio's song.

But I digress, and add, that the alma mater is beautiful, and it says so much about the people of my adopted state of Ohio, and particularly my children (who are OSU graduates,) that folks are simply proud of their education, and their connection to the firm friendships of The Ohio State University.  I hope for patients and their families that the alma mater brings them a moment of pride, and memories of their many happy years as Buckeyes.

So what have I learned from playing at the James?  That I can give a piece of myself to the lobby crowd by playing my favorite instrument.  That perhaps some piece I am playing will remind them of their spouse, their best friend, their first date, Frank Sinatra, or even their child's first Disney movie.  But I hope that even for a brief hour, I can make someone feel that a piece of the world is still all right, even while facing great challenges with hope and courage.  The world is always magical  when there is a piano, someone to play it and music!!  Who knows maybe the crazy James polo is not that bad!

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

I've posted before on this subject - adult piano students

So when I think of the word spectrum, I often think of an adult piano student.    One definition of spectrum is a noun used to classify something, or suggest that it can be classified.  In my work as an adoption attorney, I have had adopted children who "fall" somewhere on the autism spectrum, again, a way to classify the development condition that affects the ability to communicate and interact.  So can the adult piano student be classified?  I believe the answer is yes.

As an adult piano student, how do I see myself and others pursuing their piano dreams?  I will start with others.  Often when I chat with friends or family about adult piano lessons, I receive a myriad of responses.  Some tell me they want to learn just enough piano, to play Christmas carols with their grandchildren.  One of my former hair dressers, only wanted to learn and play Debussy's Clair de Lune proficiently.  Others have told me they want to go as far as they can go, with the time they have left on this wonderful planet.

So, how do I see myself.?  My dreams about the piano, and playing it have changed over the years.  When I was a young girl, I dreamed of playing ragtime piano like Jo Ann Castle  on the Lawrence Welk show.  As I got into my lessons, (starting at 6 years of age), I wanted to play like my teachers, and some of the more advance students that had lessons before or after me.

When I attended Albion College for one year in 1973-74, I wanted to play like Edward Rosser, who had the lesson before me.  He is an incredible pianist, and I have blogged about him and his amazing piano story in this blog.  I came to the conclusion in college, that I didn't think I had the ability to teach piano or teach music, so I started to look at my next set of dreams, a career in the law, or even as a department store buyer.

But even with my life heading down another path, I always held on to the dream of being a respectable and capable pianist, meaning I could entertain myself, family and friends, and I could pass on my love of the instrument to the children I dreamed of having some day.

When ever I went to a concert of  a pianist I loved, I still dreamed, that I could play this piece or that piece with proficiency and great conviction.  So I started to list my favorite pianists, Emanuel Ax, Kathryn Stott, Jean - Yves Thibaudet, Jon Nakamatsu, Aaron Diehl, Bobby Short, Herbie Hancock, Dave Brubeck, and wondered if I could play one of their concert selections.  All of these pianists and many more reinforced my dream of playing respectably and capably.

So where am I today?  Well, first, I realize that I can't play all of the repertoire that I want to play today.  And, I have come to terms with the fact that I am not the pianist I was at 17 years old, when I was practicing 1-2 hours a day, and had all the time in the world to work on a difficult measure of music, or stage a piano recital performance in my living room.  Back in my later teens, I didn't have a job or children, or real responsibilities on the home front.  I may have had a chore or two, but honestly, if I was playing the piano before or after dinner, my mom often set the table or did the dishes....because I was playing her favorite instrument.

But as an adult piano student today, I can play better than I did yesterday.  I can work on my challenges, rhythm, correct fingering, pedaling and dynamics.  I can re examine a piece I learned to play years ago, and maybe even learn something new.  I can receive a challenge from my teacher, accept the challenge, and maybe even surprise that teacher by listening to her ideas about a particular piece and implementing those ideas.

I can also take my piano skills and give music to others.  Whether it is as a pinch hit pianist at my church, or playing in the lobby of our local cancer hospital, I can share this amazing instrument with my friends, family and even strangers.  Perhaps the difference I will make is that I will sooth someone's soul, or trigger a memory they had about a song or melody they heard years ago.  And most importantly, a listener may conclude ....."hey I want to start taking lessons again, and change my life and the lives of others I love."

In the Summer 2019 issue of The Piano Magazine for Clavier Companion Barbara Kreader Skalinder has written a beautiful essay entitled What My Adult Students Have Taught Me.  The three subtopics of the essay are 1.  Honor My Interests, 2.  Help Me Learn the Music I love and 3. Teach Me to Trust Myself.  These three concepts are explained with great references to some of the adult students she has taught and that she is currently teaching.  I came away from the essay realizing that I could see a small part of me in each of the three subtopics.

To honor your interests as a student, your teacher needs to know what your interests are.  So, as a student you must be bold and speak up.  Tell your teacher you want to perform, or play at church, or even  teach a neighbor or friend.  Tell your teacher the composers that you really love.  Perhaps there is a piece by that composer that is at your level, and you can in fact master that piece.  And as a student, you again need to be bold, and tell your teacher, what your challenges were in your practicing week, and what you tried musically to get the proficient result you want.

The adult piano student is in fact brave, courageous and bold.  As and adult student you are taking on new challenges, and learning that you can make a difference in your piano lesson journey.

Thursday, April 18, 2019

The Heather Pick Music Program

A few months ago, I was chatting with my piano teacher Suzanne Newcomb.  She told me that she played piano for the Heather Pick Music Program at the James Cancer Hospital in Columbus, Ohio

To take a page from the program's website,

Heather Pick was a beloved news anchor for WBNS 10-TV, as well as a wonderful singer and songwriter. In November of 2008, she passed away from breast cancer after a courageous battle, leaving behind a mourning community and a legacy of healing through music.
Suzanne encouraged me to consider playing in the program, and I mulled it over for awhile.  I finally got my courage up to submit and application and a tape of my playing.  It was several weeks later, when I heard from Blake from the Pick program, and he basically told me I had passed.    I was surprised but somewhat excited, as I believed I could make a difference for patients and visitors at the James, by playing my favorite instrument.
The week before my first hour session, I was reviewing my extensive music collection trying to determine what I would play.  As I looked through classical and popular selections, I thought wow, do I know this well enough, or is this appropriate.  I finally concluded that I would play pieces that inspired me, and that I thought were interesting and thoughtful.  I also decided that the audience was cancer victims, their families, and hospital staff, and that I should play with the idea or concept of making a difference.
I found my travel rolling brief case, and began selecting books of music, with pieces I could play fairly well .  I began to tab various pieces, and number them, putting them in the order I wanted to play.  I knew I would be playing for an hour, and came up with about fifty pieces I could play proficiently.  My selection included classical pieces, Broadway show tunes, easy listening songs, and what I like to refer to as standards, pieces my mother loved, because well, Frank Sinatra or Tony Bennett sang them. 
The day I arrive at the James Hospital, I was nervous.  As I collected my thoughts and sat down to play, I realized, that I was playing piano in the middle of a busy hospital lobby.  People were walking by with lunch in tow, others were shuffling along while texting on their phones, and some were wheeling their precious loved one in a wheel chair.  
I started to realize that it wasn't going to be a captive audience, so the best I could hope for, would be that someone would recognize a piece and have a simply moment of solitude, while listening and going about their day.  Occasionally someone would sit down in the lobby chairs and listen intently, and even clap.  In fact my third volunteer effort, resulted in a man singing along while I played Natural Women, an Aretha Franklin favorite.
What I truly learned from my first session was that the purpose of playing in this setting is to bring a brief moment of sunshine to an often challenging and dark place.  I've heard physicians start singing as I play the Lion King's Can You Feel the Love Tonight, and sighs, when I play the beautiful music of La La Land.  I've also heard folks tap their pen on a notebook, as I play an orderly Bach prelude.
After my first volunteer hour, someone had filled out a comment card about my playing.  He or she said something like, and I paraphrase....'this place would be a lot happier if someone like this woman played every week.'  That meant so much to me.  I used to play in yearly recitals, but now my playing is honestly confined to after dinner time, while my husband does the dishes.  And during piano lessons, in part, you are playing for an experienced musician, who is critiquing your efforts, to make a difference in the kind of pianist you are, and the kind of pianist you hope to be.
So, I think I will continue my volunteer efforts for awhile.  If you can play the piano, and want to perform, look for a similar type of setting, where any music you play will be appreciated.  Take some time to give of your musical self that you have worked hard to cultivate.  By your time and attentive playing, you will brighten a person's day, change their point of view and perhaps, give someone a moment of peace and relaxation.  
Even as an amateur pianist, your efforts should be shared with others.  It just strengthens the importance of the piano in our everyday lives.  So get out there and practice and play.  And if you are in Columbus, Ohio, look into the Heather Pick Music Program.  I would like to think that Heather Pick would be glad you did.

Friday, February 22, 2019

The piano will save you - revisited

I started piano lessons when I was six.  I can still see my mom at the corner of Vaughan Avenue and Grove Street (Northwest Detroit.)  She was calling my name, and she told me “Rosemary they just delivered our piano,,,,,run!”  So that is what I did-- run, to find a beautiful brown Baldwin spinet in our living room.

Initially my mom took lessons, but with family responsibilities, no time for lessons or practice.  One evening at dinner, my Dad asked me and my brothers, “who is going to take piano lessons?”  My brothers’ hands didn’t shoot up, so I said yes.

That started my long relationship with my favorite instrument.  My first teacher was our parish organist.  He was a taskmaster, rapping my hands with a wooden stick when my hand position wasn’t correct.  As an outspoken child, I told my mom…and quickly moved on to another teacher. 

In 7th grade when I found my dream piano teacher, Katherine Lemon.  I took lessons from her through 12th grade.  She was an Oberlin graduate, and very accomplished. I began to dream of a career as a piano teacher, and professional musician.  My senior year I played a Debussy Prelude in my final piano recital, and to my surprise, I only played one or two incorrect notes.  I had just told my teacher a few weeks earlier, that I wasn’t sure I had the ability to be a piano teacher, and that I was thinking of law school.

During my first year of college, I took piano lessons through the school of music.  My teacher criticized my playing and told me I didn’t have the right type of thumbs to be a pianist.  I was heartbroken and quit lessons after a semester.  I didn’t even play the piano in our dorm lobby.  I boxed up my love for the piano and my musical dreams.

When Sarah and Michael were little, my mom called me one day and asked me whether I wanted our little Baldwin piano.  I thought, maybe I would start playing again even though I told my mom that I didn’t think I could play anymore.  My mom firmly responded “no, Rosemary, you need the piano, and eventually it will save you many times in life.”

You know my mom was right.  I spent the 1990s playing all kinds of Disney music.  I played the Winnie the Pooh theme at least 100 times as Sarah marched around the living room.  I found an amazing piano teacher Madeline Karn, who also graduated from Oberlin for Sarah, and I watched Sarah’s progress from Piano Adventure books to sonatas.  When Sarah was in eighth grade and Michael was in fifth grade, I started taking piano lessons from Dr. Suzanne Newcomb.  Suzanne like my other great teachers focuses on your current ability while tackling your collective musical challenges.

During my children’s busy high school years, I again took some time off from the piano, but I have gone back to the instrument, taking lessons in my 40s, 50s and now in my 60s.  I am currently taking lessons from Dr. Suzanne Newcomb, but also took lessons from Madeline Karn.  Both have given me the courage to try anything I am willing to practice.

I’m close to finishing my legal career, and my parents are now no longer with me.  My mom’s words stay with me.    Yes, the piano has saved me.  It has provided moments of order when I’m anxious, joy when I am sad, goals to achieve when I am bored, and peace when I’m troubled.   I feel as connected to the piano as when I was six.  And I have created a blog on piano playing through the mind of the amateur called FocusedHour88keys.

The piano stands alone for me as the greatest instrument.  So take a moment and see if playing the piano or any instrument can save you.

Friday, February 1, 2019

Michelle Obama A Glimpse into her Piano Journey

I have taken the opportunity to blog about Presidents who have played piano.  However, I have yet to explore the piano playing efforts of our First Ladies.

I am currently reading Becoming by First Lady Michelle Obama.  Her book is an interesting read, and she writes in a conversational tone, that simply feels like she is speaking directly to the reader.

Mrs. Obama was four when she wanted to learn to play the piano.  Okay folks, I feel like Mrs. Obama is simply so down to earth, I am going to call her Michelle.  If you ever read my blog Michelle, please forgive me.  Michelle's Great Aunt Robbie owned the house where Michelle resided with her parents and her brother Craig.  What I thought was so interesting, was Michelle's first thoughts about the piano.  In her words "When you're little, a piano can look like it has a thousand keys.  You're staring at an expanse of black and white that stretches farther than two small arms can reach."  It was the first time that someone put into words, what I thought, the first time I stared at our brand new piano, arriving in our home in 1962.

Michelle went on to describe that she liked the piano and that sitting at it felt natural, like something she was meant to do.  Again, that was how I felt, the first time I climbed on our piano bench.  I had a family who loved music.  My mom listened to Frank Sinatra while cleaning.  My parents went to the symphony and the opera, and yes, we watched Lawrence Welk, every Sunday evening, whether it was at home, or at my grandma's house.  The way Michelle described how she was surrounded by music lovers, was exactly the way I felt about my family, yes we too were music lovers.

Michelle had a focused pursuit on learning the piano.  She picked up scales and filled out sight reading worksheets that her Aunt Robbie gave her.    I loved her thought process in this part of the book, because Michelle commented that there was magic in the learning.  Learning the notes for the first time is magic.  It's a whole new language and to coin the Aladdin lyrics, it is a whole new world.

Interestingly, Michelle like me, often would look ahead in her piano books, and work on pieces that were more advanced.  In reading the book, her Aunt commented on the fact that she wasn't ready to move ahead.  However, I sensed a dogged determination on the part of Michelle, that she was moving ahead anyway.

Often in the piano world of Rosemary Ebner Pomeroy, I found myself at the music store, IMC Music Center in Berkley, Michigan to be exact, always asking my mom to buy me sheet music that said advanced.  I was confident, that I could in fact learn it even if I wasn't ready.    Perhaps that is a sign of a real musician, knowing that you might not be ready for a piece, but you are going to take a leap of faith and see if you can play any part of it anyway.  As a young pianist, I wanted to be bold.  I wanted to play like famous pianists on the covers of albums my mom had.

Michelle also took some time to describe her performance in an early piano recital.  Her piano recital was held in a practice recital at Roosevelt University in downtown Chicago.  Just like my mom, Michelle's mom saw to that she was wearing a nice dress and patent leather shoes.  My mom was obsessed with black patent leather shoes, and that was what I had on for just about every piano recital.  On page 15 of her book, Michelle described her first cold sweat of her life, and her anxiety about performing.  I so remember those feelings, fear, wanting to play well, and most of all not disappointing my piano teacher.

She got to the grand piano she was going to play for the performance.  Michelle realized when she sat down on the bench that the piano was perfect, unlike the piano she played at her Aunt Robbie's home.  The middle C on her piano at home, had a chipped middle C key.  The recital piano was in mint condition.  I was relieved when her Aunt Robbie stepped up on stage, and showed her where middle C was on that piano.  When I read this excerpt, I was feeling her fear and anxiety just as if it was me.  The car ride to your piano recital is one of the toughest ones you will ever make.  You are hopeful, you will play the way you have in practice, but you are also thinking of what you will do if something goes wrong.  I used to use the strategy, that I would return to my strong place in a piece, and hope for the best on the second attempt.

I'm about half way through her book.  I took a hiatus to finish my Hamilton book,  before I see the amazing musical this Sunday. So I hope to return to Michelle's conversation very soon.    I guess what I take away from Mrs. Obama's piano journey, is that she loves music.  You see it in the way she listens, when there is a concert at the White House, that is part of a news clip on television.  You see it, when President and Mrs. Obama are at the Kennedy Center Honors program, that music is part of their souls.  And you see it in their eyes, when dancing at a State Dinner.

I've said this before in my blog, but there is order and discipline in learning to play the piano.  But more importantly, there is pure joy when you learn to play a piece you heard on the net, or a piece that an experienced or famous pianist is playing.  It is great, when you are singing a song you heard on the radio, or on your I-phone, and you make a decision right then and there to buy that piece, and learn it.

I know that playing the piano, does mean a certain focus on the pieces your teacher wants you to play to advance your progress.  But playing the piano also means that you are going to conquer a musical work that has changed your life, sent chills up and down your spine, or reminds you of that first kiss, first date, the receipt of good news, or the chilling sadness that can happen on life's journey.

So Michelle, I am glad I am reading your book.  I didn't come from the same place, but if we had met as kids, we could have been friends.  It feels good to know that we have some common experiences, especially when they involve my favorite instrument the piano.  Now that the hustle and bustle of White House life is behind you, I hope you can take some time to play more, and maybe even take some lessons.  Who knows you might be able to accompany the President on "At Last."

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Christmas Carols

I have lost some of my zest for the Christmas holiday season, but I never lose my interest in Christmas carols, and hymns, and the beautiful Christmas liturgies that are part of the Catholic Church.

I have a wide variety of Christmas music.  I happened to be looking through my trove of holiday treasures the other day, looking for easy Christmas carols to share with my neighbor, Ann.  Ann wanted some carol books that she could share with her grandchildren, so she could play simple carols and they could sing along.

I happened to find an addition from the Willis Music company, that dated back to my earliest days of piano study.  As I leafed through the small blue book, that was titled something like Christmas Carols for Children, I noticed that my teacher at the time George Assemany, had dated some of the carols during December of 1962.  I was 7, and had just started piano lessons that previous summer.  I was always happy that my mom took the time to find music for me that I WANTED to play.  I could learn whatever my piano teacher had planned for me, but my Mom also wanted me to have a book or sheet music pieces that represented what I was interested in learning.

In looking at this little blue Willis addition of Christmas carols, I now realize how far I have come as an amateur pianist.  I can still play these one note versions of familiar carols straight or with the panache of a more experienced player.   I also look at the many carol books I now play, and realize that my mom knew that music is about what you feel and how much you feel in terms of sharing music with others.  I sort of laughed, when I saw the 1962 dates. In 1962 I was in second grade, leading what I considered to be a fairly carefree life.  Christmas holidays, meant incredible presents, amazing food cooked by my mom, my grandma and my Aunt Irene.  But it also meant rich musical treasures, played or performed at church, or by me at home, or by my Aunt Irene at her house or ours.

In second grade, I was always impressed that my Aunt Irene could simply sit down at the piano and play all types of Christmas carols with ease.  I knew even at 7 years old, that Aunt Irene had been a real practicer.  She took the piano seriously and I think she took all music seriously.  My mom was musical too, but she had not been exposed to piano lessons the way my Aunt Irene had.  In some ways, I associated Frank Sinatra and Tony Bennett with my mom, but I associated piano music with my Aunt.  I add that my Aunt also sang in her church choir for almost all of her adult life, and that commitment to music,was the same commitment you needed to make to become a good pianist.

So in looking at my little Willis book, I took some time to find out about the Willis Music Company located in Florence, Kentucky.  The Willis music company has always been about music education.  In fact the Willis company was sold to Gustave Schirmer in 1919 and as mentioned in previous blogs, if one was playing a Schirmer edition, as a pianist you had arrived.

I looked at the website and learned that Willis added the Modern Course for the Piano by John Thompson to its catalogue in 1936.  Again, the red John Thompson book, was another side, that you were progressing as a pianist.  Willis also added the Dozen a Day series by Edna Mae Burnam.  Take a moment during the holidays, to read about Willis and learn about how the company has expanded to serve the musical community with music educational materials, musical instruments and accessories.  Willis is also well known for its support of school band and orchestra programs, particularly in the Cincinnati and northern Kentucky areas.

When I look at my treasure of music, I am always reminded of the great history in my many music books.  There is a history of my progression as an amateur pianist, and a history of what I think I can accomplish as a pianist.  There is always hope, when you sit at a piano, hope to become better, hope to calm your fears, hope that you can share the music which is such a part of your heart and who you are.

My Aunt Irene is gone now, but when the Christmas holidays come around I always think of her, and I am proud that I can sit at the piano and play those familiar carols.  I also know that our Sarah can do the same, and will assume the mantle of piano playing when I can no longer do so.

If you play even at a beginning level, get out your Christmas carol book, or buy one and start a new holiday!

Saturday, October 6, 2018

J.S. Bach Prelude Eleven- Ornaments!

I had always thought I had arrived as a student of the piano, when my teacher Katherine Lemon started purchasing Schirmer editions of classical music for me.  As the years have passed, I am now in possession of the G. Henle Verlag, Urtext editions of several classical composers.  The Henle edition, elevates you to an even higher status, once you can master a work within the volume.

I love Bach, and I have both volumes of The Well-  Tempered Clavier, or Das Wohltemperierte Klavier, Teil I and Teil II.  As an amateur, in the Henle edition, there is not a lot of direction in terms of fingering patterns, or the notes to be included in an ornament.  There is the Vorwort or Preface, for basic guidance. However, in my quest to learn quickly, I generally don't spend a lot of time reading the editor's notes that accompany these challenging preludes and fugues.

Currently I am working on the Praeludium XI.  I am the second string pianist at my church, and on rare occasions, I fill in as the pianist, for Saturday night Mass.  I'm not sure about the congregation's affinity for classical music, but I like it, and I think my pastor does as well.  I am always hopeful, that if I can master a prelude, it can become an after communion interlude, before the final announcements, blessing and recessional hymn.  There is nothing like a Bach prelude, to make you feel like you are in a house of worship, a place of peaceful reflection.

The Prelude in F major, is in 12/8 time, which always adds another dimension and another challenge.  I know this is a bold statement on my part, but without the ornamentation, I believe I could master this work of Bach, in a reasonable amount of time.  But this prelude has ornamentation, otherwise known to the common amateur pianist as the trills, mordants and cadences.  So proper mastery of the prelude is simply going to take more time.

I add that two of my piano teachers, Katherine Lemon and Suzanne Newcomb each had a book on ornamentation.  I would guess that my other teacher Madeline Karn also had such a book, but I don't recall asking her about such a necessary volume of musical information.  You don't get to piano greatness, like these three amazing teachers, without a volume on ornamentation.

The trill focuses on this concept, integrating the stream of notes that comprise the trill into the musical melody, while maintaining the steady beat of the time signature.  Often over the years, teachers have told me, learn the prelude, and add the trills, once you have mastered the notes and rhythm.  Some teachers over the years have even told me to forget the trills.  However, when you are a serious musician, even as an amateur, you want to take on the challenge of the trills, no matter how difficult and frustrating they might be.

I was scouting around on the internet this week and, I found a transcription of an ornament table(transcribed by T. L. Hubeart, Jr.)  appearing in the Clavier-Buchlein vor Wilhelm Friedemann Bach, written by Johann Sebastian Bach for the keyboard instruction of his eldest son.   If you put J. S. Bach's Ornament Table in an internet browser, you will be brought to a graphic of the table.

The table gives a good description of the symbol for the ornament, as well as the written out notes for each ornament.  So, at least for the music of Bach, you can refer to the table when trying to determine how in practice, you will accomplish the ornamentation.

I add, that in time one probably will learn "the how" of playing the ornaments without referring to the table, but keeping the table close by, when playing Bach, will help you to figure out the ornamentation, and perhaps you may even surprise your teacher.

Without spending time to define the ornaments, I can add that there are at least the following ornaments:
trillo und mordant
doppelt-cadence und mordant
accent steigen,
accent fallend
accent und mordant
accent und trill

I add in defense of all of my wonderful teachers, all have been willing to write out how the ornament should be played.  Particularly in Bach's music, the addition of properly played ornaments, adds to the dimension of  the prelude or fugue.  The beauty of Bach's music is enhanced by the ornaments, and therefore, the ornaments must be integrated into the melody and counterpoint melody.