Most piano students take lessons with the intention of being solo performers, without realizing that at some point in their years as a pianist, they will undoubtedly be asked to take on the roll as an accompanist. The piano is the most commonly used instrument to accompany both vocalists and instrumentalists, and all great accompanists you see today, at some point in their training, had to learn the art of accompanying.At the professional level, it is much more lucrative (and reliable in today's economy) for pianists to become collaborative players rather than soloists. The relationships built through the process of working with others rehearsing and playing great repertoire are some of the most satisfying aspects of music-making for those that take collaborative playing seriously. Teachers that enable these experiences for their students may in large part end up creating more lifelong musicians (whether professional or amateur) if the experiences are of a positive nature.
I also like Jennifer's 10 Be-Attitudes of Accompanying at the end of the article. Here are four of the attributes that are particularly valuable:
3. Be able to play while watching a conductor, or soloist.
4. Be an active listener, and watcher.
5. Be able to match the soloists style and phrasing.
6. Be a team player, instead of the “star”.
What were your first encounters with ensemble playing? How did they influence your subsequent development as a musician?
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