Friday, November 4, 2022

I want to be a professional accompanist?

We hear this a lot! So here's what you can expect. Accompanists play instruments like a keyboard or guitar and support vocalists, dancers, and theater performers. Accompanists wear a lot of different hats; for example, they may accompany the church choir as pianists and/or accompany guest performers for a segments for a television show. A collaborative pianist typically performs with vocalists and dancers in a rehearsal setting. Lots of accompanists double as teachers or educators and are capable of teaching and supporting a student's performance while playing as well.

Accompanist at a dance rehearsal

Here's what they don't tell you! Accompanists must respond quickly to performance elements such as tempo, key changes, phrasing, and interpretation, often while collaborating with a singer for the first time and often in high-pressure settings like competitions and/or auditions.  Most accompanists work on a different schedule every week, but there are full-time positions at music schools have more consistency, but beware rehearsals and performances are often scheduled at night and on weekends.

Thursday, September 8, 2022

The world is your oyster

Reaching expert accompanists of different music genres, styles and traditions has become so much easier over the last 25 years. A simple Google search on the phrase "Bandoneon instructor in Rio de Janeiro" or "Irish tin whistle teacher in Dublin" will give you pages of real contacts who are hungry to help you learn their craft. It's always intimidating to embrace new technology at first, but over time it's become hard to ignore the new paradigm. We've learned that the terminology and functionality of teleconferencing products is really the same and there are lots of tools to choose from; Zoom, Google Meet and Skype are probably the most widely known though. Skype (owned by Microsoft) has been around the longest and it is still a great choice for professional accompanists.
April Alsup discusses Scottish Cèilidh Music with Sandy Brechin from Edinburgh Scotland
Most accompanists will explore the underlying characteristics of different music genres, traditions and styles and often have to reach out to resources from various corners of the world to better understand a particular musical pedagogy. Here's an example: April Alsup, a Denver accordionist and music theater composer, was conducting research for a new musical theater work about a small island in the Hebrides and wanted to make sure to capture the nuances of Scottish Cèilidh music. An internet search, an eMail and Viola... she's able to setup regular meetings with a professional Cèilidh accordion player from Edinburgh Scotland and get all sorts of tips and tricks for Cèilidh dance accompaniment.

Friday, June 10, 2022

Accompanist for Scottish Cèilidh dancing

We get all sorts of accompanist requests over the course of a year and we can usually find someone who can fit right in. Most of our inquiries are for an expert piano accompanist for auditioning actors for an upcoming music theater work. We've worked with a lot of different theaters in and around the Denver metropolitan area. Sometimes the requests that come in are for a last minute substitutions for an instrumentalist who may have become ill or for a church service when the staff organist, singer or music director has a vacation planned or some other conflict.

Cèilidh Dance Training

In any case, we get some unusal requests from time-to-time too; for example, we recently heard from a Denver area creative team looking to identify someone familiar with Scottish Cèilidh dancing. So we reached out to several area Scottish dance organizations and were able to find a professional Scottish dance team living in Colorado who were involved with Cèilidh dancing in Scotland. We had a Skype call with our accordion resource to discuss the specifics and penciled in a date to all get together. Everyone was eager to participate and learn more about the Scottish dances and the culture behind them too. We played tune sets for a Gay Gordon, a Reel and a Jig and the client was thrilled. It was so much fun! 🎭

Tuesday, March 1, 2022

Do Accompanists use Streaming Audio Services?

Using streaming audio services can be a powerful tool for any accompanist looking to provide performers with rehearsal materials to practice their parts on demand. The hard part is selecting the service that best fits your needs. Google Drive is good for accompanists who want to give access to various people in different ways, but you'll need to come up with a folder nomenclature to organize your music material.






Recently, April Alsup expanded her music distribution channel to include several major streaming audio services; Spotify, Apple, Amazon and YouTube, but she still uses Soundcloud for music theater performers looking for rehearsal and/or audition materials because it's easy to use and you don't have to jump through a bunch of hoops to get your practice parts out there for people.