But I have my doubts about whether simply inventing a new term is going to have any effect. The enterprise smacks of Newspeak and political correctness. If "collaborative pianist" is universally accepted (and this hasn't yet happened), will people's perceptions necessarily change?Well put. However, let's realize that the label "collaborative pianist" is not a newly-invented term but goes back to the mid-80's when Samuel Sanders first coined it in New York. I suppose one could argue that the initial use of the nomenclature was "politically correct" as it spread throughout academia in the mid-90's. But the accusation that it is a politically correct one is to bring the discourse back 15 years when the collaborative pianist meme was first gaining traction.
To address Colin's question as to whether a change of name will actually change people's perceptions--let's take a look at a live search for the terms "accompanist" and "collaborative pianist" on Twitter to see what people are writing about the subject at the present. A search for "collaborative pianist" at present shows little beyond my blog postings and retweets--people simply don't use the term extensively on Twitter yet. A search for accompanist shows a lot more hits (around 3-6 per day), with some entry-level job postings, others from singers and instrumentalists talking about the unnamed pianists they work with. Here is a random sampling (with usernames deleted--cut and paste onto Twitter Search if you want to know who said what):
Two observations based on what I've seen on the two Twitter searches:exhausted after 4 shows in 2 days. breaking in a new accompanist on Sunday, followed by the last show before our ONE day off...What part of as fast as humanly possible did the accompanist not get? At least i'm used to it and just worked it.Re-reading Zinn and contemplating how to be an accompanist-activist.is wishing that he had a portable accompanist to use whenever he felt the urge.I just learned that you can't always trust everyone. Even if they are your choir's accompanist.Looked really cute at hair auditions. Too bad the accompanist confused a folk ballad with a polka.Well I didn't win but I also didn't pay the accompanist because she was rubbish.
1. The title "collaborative pianist" is still barely catching on in the public consciousness.
2. The title "accompanist" not only implies inferiority, but anonymity and sometimes comes with a tendency towards a borderline-abusive tone on status updates.
So what can you do?
Here's one idea: when you talk, write emails, write articles, or post status updates to Facebook, Twitter, or other social networks, use "collaborative pianist", but use it in a perfectly natural tone without the slightest pretense. The common usage of "collaborative pianist" in this way will slowly but surely make the usage of "accompanist" obsolete.
But ignore the issue and some of the most talented, talented, hard-working, active, and consistent money-earners in the entire musical profession will stay anonymous, will remain just the accompanist. Otherwise a 20-year journey to bring more respect and public consciousness to our art may have been for naught.
I'll end with more observations from Colin Eatock:
I also find myself wondering if singers and instrumental soloists are really buying into this idea: if they are, then why haven't I heard of a "collaborative soprano"? And how can pianists describe themselves as "collaborating" if the person they're trying to collaborate with doesn't see the relationship in those terms?
Until pianists achieve full equality - not just in concert billing, but also in repertoire selection, artistic interpretation, audience appreciation, fees, and other things as well - isn't changing the name just an empty gesture?
Previously on the Collaborative Piano Blog:
What Is Collaborative Piano?
What Collaborative Piano Is Not
You're a What?
You're a What? Part II
You're a What? Part III
Vocal Coach vs. Voice Teacher