Tuesday, December 22, 2015

On Leading Pianists

I remember Diane Lewarne once saying to singers that until you get hired by a company for an engagement, your entire musical life is essentially about auditions. If you're a singer, knowing how to work with pianists well enough so that you can get your vocal and dramatic skills across to the panel is one of the core skills that will allow you to rock the audition situation and eventually get you hired. Jenna Douglas' article on how to lead your pianist lays out the groundwork for how a singer can lead pianists with confidence in a situation where you're lucky if you even get time to talk about tempi in the audition room:
This is really a conversation about being brave. If your aria starts with a piano introduction, and it's too fast or too slow, you can either a) breathe and hope you make it, or b) change the tempo. I vote for option B. The only way you can change a tempo set by your pianist is, well, by singing at a different tempo. Sure, you might have a bar or two (hopefully less) of not-so-great ensemble, but it's absolutely preferable to singing your aria at someone else's pacing (especially since you put all that work into it).

Another bonus is that the auditioners will notice that you're taking charge of your music. They can tell the difference between ensemble problems, and a singer leading a pianist. Even if the pianist doesn't follow you at all, the auditioners will see that you know your stuff cold.
Pianists, take note of another great article from Jenna Douglas on Schmopera: How to Play for Singers.

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