Friday, May 15, 2009

Poll: In what year did you first hear of the term "collaborative pianist"?

It's no surprise that a big part of my mission here at the Collaborative Piano Blog is to spread the usage of the term "collaborative pianist" as denoting the pianist who rehearses, works, and performs with other musicians instead of the traditional (and slightly derogatory) "accompanist". I've always wondered about the spread of the collaborative pianist meme throughout the profession from the time when Samuel Sanders first used the term to the present. On my latest poll, I'm asking the following question:
In what year did you first hear of the term "collaborative pianist"?
The choices are 1990 or earlier, 1991-1995, 1996-2000, 2001-2005, and 2006-present. The poll will be on the right-hand sidebar for the next week or so, and you can also answer register your answer on the PollDaddy site.

I'm also very interested in learning where you heard the term for the first time. Please feel free to leave your comments below.


  1. I would definitely attribute my knowledge of this term to Dr. Allison Gagnon, who was studying with Dale Bartlett at McGill when I was there. She's gone on to do a DMA (Cleveland) and start a master's program in collaborative piano at North Carolina School for the Arts. She is my inspiration for continuing in this field!

  2. Martin Katz (2009)...prior to his concert at the Kennedy Center with Frederica von Stade and Samuel Ramey

  3. Chris, the first time I heard the term "collaborative pianist" was when I read it on your blog, I think. We are a little behind the times in Buffalo! On the bright side that means our paper still has a classical music critic. That is a good thing anyway.

  4. I can't recall the specific year, but it was sometime around 1988-1989. My friend Lisa Sylvester was studying collaborative piano at Philadelphia's University of the Arts (which I think was newly formed at the time, from PCA, PCPA, et al.).

    My memory is too vague on details. I can't recall the name of the pianist with whom she studied. I just surveyed their current faculty list, and no name rang a bell.

  5. Thanks for the comments, everyone. This is one comment thread in particular that a lot of people might want to track.

    I first heard the term from Juilliard faculty member Connie Moore at the Bowdoin Festival in 1995.

  6. This term is very new to me, but in fact, this is how I always saw my work as a pianist with other musicians, actors, dancers. As a piano tuner, i would call myself "The Collaborative Tuner" as well. This is very powerful as it gives full importance and responsability, engages all creative energy and focus.

    Bravo pour votre engagement.

  7. The term seems to have been around for a decade and a half at least, yet I wasn't seriously aware that it was the currently accepted term until I began following Chris' blog. When Chris & I began at Eastman (early 1990s), the degree offered was in "Piano Accompanying and Chamber Music," yet I pretty quickly lost track of the field as I veered off into "Opera Coaching" which I eventually learned was called "Vocal Coaching." Hmmm, not sure how I feel about that one either, having had way more opera lessons than vocal ones...!

    Only in the last few years have I been lucky enough to be asked to play recitals more frequently, and the term "pianist" that most of the NYC coaches seem to accept as fully respectable also covers me when I'm playing a recital with an instrumentalist or singer. The degree to which I "collaborate" is highly dependent on the amount of rehearsal time, fee, and mostly my relationship with the solo performer. (Of course the piano playing is ALWAYS fully collaborative, but the chit-chat is minimized if the soloist merely wants some 'hired help.')

    Since I've been hangin' around Chris' blog, I've been asking other "pianists" about this term, and oh yes, they all know we're officially "collaborative artists" -- just today, a colleague informed me the term has been around for well over 20 years. But at least in this town, the ones who insist upon it seem to be those with an affiliation to a music school, and the term does seem to be universal amongst all the institutions.

    How are the various degree programs listed at the various institutions?

    At major U.S. opera companies, the coaches seem to be called "Assistant Conductors," no? The other week, I was asked to clarify having held a position as a "Conductor" vs. as an "Assistant Conductor." An important distinction, and I was impressed & honored that the power-that-be who was asking knew what he was talking about.

    OK, this topic is exhausting me.

    May I please just call myself a "Musician" for the rest of the week? Thanks.

  8. Anonymous7:36 AM

    I think I first heard the term when I was a grad student at Yale and Elizabeth Parisot was running the "collaborative piano" program. (A quick Google doesn't show current references to the program by that name, though.)

    As an instrumentalist and college music prof, I've used the term since those grad school days. When I'm teaching and working with student pianists who are playing with my students, I do do a bit more "direction" of them, because my student and I have been working towards a particular musical concept that I want to be sure both parties support. (This is esp. true of younger students who are just starting to figure out how to communicate musical ideas in a way others can follow.) But I always stress to students that playing with piano is a truly collaborative effort and that they are just as responsible for listening and responding to the pianist as the pianist is for listening and responding to them. When I'm working on a professional recital with pianist colleagues, it's a very equal relationship.

  9. Thanks for the comments, Jen and nbrockmann!

  10. I first heard it when I began reading your blog, Chris, and I can't remember when that was!

  11. This is the first I have Heard of it.