Do you have any suggestions for how a college student can get work as an accompanist? I was doing some accompanying earlier this semester but had to pass off those students to the person who is now the full-time accompanist. I will not be needed for accompanying at school in the future and I'm not sure how to go about finding other work as an accompanist. I know some of your suggestions apply to students, but others are only for those who are making a full-time career as a collaborative pianists. Do you have any other tips specific to students?Thanks for the great comment, Lauren. Correct me if I'm wrong, but it seems that the issue for you is that the work you had previously done had been handed off to someone else (which is often the case at schools with graduate assistantships and staff accompanists) and you're looking for collaborative piano work while you continue as a student.
Schools of music are only a small part of the equation when it comes to getting work playing in the collaborative piano field. I don't know where your school is located, but depending on your location, there are a number of markets available to you while you are still a student. They include:
- Private voice teachers in your area not affiliated with a university. Voice teachers are always on the lookout for pianists with a willingness to play for singers, either in lessons, master classes, festivals, recitals, and auditions. For a list of voice teachers in your area, check out your local chapter of the National Association of Teachers of Singing.
- Find ballet or dance schools located in your area. Ballet teachers are also on the lookout for fine pianists willing to learn the art of playing for dance classes.
- Find amateur theater companies in your area that are putting on musicals. A few months before rehearsals are slated to start, directors are often desperate to find rehearsal pianists with chops and eager to work with the singers in the company.
- Find listings of string, wind, and brass teachers in the local chapter of the Music Teachers National Association. Some chapters are more active than others, but at certain times of the year, there is a fairly large demand for pianists who can play the basic repertoire in various competitions.
- Leverage your Facebook or MySpace friendlist (if you have an account there). Many collaborative pianists at the collegiate level tell me that much of their work is negotiated on Facebook, and many referrals happen through friends of friends (ie. "check out x on my friendlist"). Sending private messages to select contacts to let them know you're available to play may come in handy when crunch time starts in mid-January.
- Check out other schools of music in your area. If the scene is slow at your school, put up posters at other regional music departments to try to get your foot in the door there. Who knows, you may even develop a caché as the new pianist in town that everyone flocks to.