Tuesday, November 18, 2008

#65 Lessons with an accompanist.

Remember, specially if you are a singer, a session with an accompanist is about ensemble work. It is not like any other lesson. If you are still very insecure with your part of the music, do everyone a favor and stay home and practice. If you can't play your music yet and keep stopping every few measures, you are wasting the accompanist's time; more so if you are working out technical details and your accompanist is sitting in a corner waiting for you to finish.


  1. Yeah. Diva's - take a listen here. We don't want to play your part. We want to practice. Seriously, i think all vocalists should record their parts at the first lesson and have seriously practiced the pitches so at least that is cleared up. Whew! What about those that DO practice and are 1/16 or 1/8th of a tone off - and you're thinking 'hmm. should i say anything?' My advice is when singing up - pitch up. Singing down, you can fudge. Just don't hit all the notes with the same disclaimer. Those are the people that pianists are likely to be banging notes out the loudest for. It's our HINT.

  2. However, there are those vocalists whom take charge and wring the worth out of you. Also, they tend to ask a lot of questions and never be so proud as to not take advice from even the pianist/accompanist. Typically, the others are too proud and thus don't know what they don't know. It's really a mutual respect. We have to ask what they want and remember it. To speed or slow here or there - or give them enough introduction or less intro - whatever they ask for.

  3. Phew! That sounded patronizing. Sometimes being on both ends of the music stand (singer and pianist) I have always felt a bit resistant to the term 'accompanist', yes, I am one of those people that perfer collaborative artist. Sometimes I think session times that end up as practice sessions are results of ill-prepared, untrained or lazy musicians.

    I also think that accompanist that has the job of being bossed isn't right.

    Sometimes I think ideally session times should be an exchange of ideas from both parties, the soloist and pianist communicating with each other musically and verbally of their ideas and actions.

    Ahmed you wrote an article about Orchestra ettique for a pianist, I wonder if soloist ettique is taught. I mean, as a sololist when I am accompanied I make sure I have learned my part, I tell the accompanist my ideas and my phrase spots (if they aren't so obvious). I request the change tempo or dynamic in different spots if they are not obvious. The accomapanist would share his/her ideas and the session would be enjoyable.

    I hate it when I work with an inexperienced, untrained or lazy singer who is still through the learning process. It feels like a singing lesson, actually it doesn't feel like a singing lesson, it feels like straining to work with someone who has done nothing.

  4. Perhaps it's all in the level of education of each person. You can have a mis-match and actually have the wrong person (whether singer or pianist) making all the calls. However, there are some very musical and yet somewhat musically illiterate people. Suppose that it also kind of boils down to how much time the vocalist and collaborative artist have to spend with each other. You are lucky, Rebecca, that you are well educated and can read the music, play the piano, AND sing. Many who start out are merely 'pretending to read' the music and are grasping intervals. Of course, many who learn to accompany have a hard time grasping the concept of 'following' which isn't a negative - when both people can 'follow' each other at different points in the music. I agree on that, too!

    My husband sings and we love to practice because we have done it enough that we can read each others minds. I can tell when he is about to speed up or what he will likely do to a phrase. If he does something different - i follow. If he needs more breath. Sometimes i push him ahead if the music starts to lag. It's my way of keeping the main steady beat without taking away his phrasing. We don't really get mad at each other's choices.

  5. I'm really young (just 17), but let me say that I see it as cute having a pianist and singer paired up. My mum asked me the other day (in a silly way) the characteristics of the man to marry, I said he had to be a pianist so he can accompany me convientently! :P I work with a pianist very regually and I would have to agree you can instinctively read your partner's mind after working with him/her for some time!

    Have you ever worked with the soloist and the teacher simulataneously?