To play accompaniement for soloists, choirs and congregations is an art!
No matter who or what you are accompanying, you play a big part in the musical performance. To be well prepared and reliable are keywords to make good music along with others.
Sadly, many fantastic musicians have payed little or no attention to this part of their musical work, and therefore are hard to cooperate with as an accompanist. Many aspects play a part in this, but here are a few keywords for being a better accompanist:
1. Make clear agreements up front about intros, number of verses, endings, key changes, tempo, dynamics and so on before accompanying choirs or soloists.
2. Do understandable intros, let the intro tell what song is coming, and make the tempo and characteristics the same as the rest of the song. It is crucial that the intro exists in the same musical universe as the song! You can play the world’s most beautiful and artistic intro, but if it doesn’t correspond to it’s song it will still just sound strange...
3. Count throughout the bars, and avoid tempo changes that are not written or agreed upon. Ritardandos in the end of every verse is not called for, and not counting throughout bars may result in «stealing« 8ths or 16ths, thus ruining the singer’s ability to breathe.
4. Try «playing the lyrics» through articulation, harmonies and register settings (organ). You can play a part in letting people know what the song is about.
5. Listen to the soloist/the choir! When rehearsing you should of course be allowed to speak your mind and correct potential wrongs, but when performing the «customer’s« always right. This means that if the soloist does anything (musicwise) that you didn’t agree upon ahead - try to pretend it’s all good and jump to where he/she is to save the day. Being the one who’s right does not help anyone. Wait until the audience is gone if you feel the need to place the blame.
6. Playing hymns or sing-alongs: Pick a suitable key and play a suitable tempo. Many people tend to complain about singing is har because it’s too high, very often I find that to slow (and rarely too fast) tempos is even more to blame if sunging feels hard. This is again due to the lack of ability to breathe sufficiently for singing.
7. Know, or say no! Be sure to know whichever genre the song is in, or say no if you think you cannot accompany it well. Listen to recordings and steal genre-specific solutions. Both you and the choir/soloist are better off with someone else playing if you cannot do a good job!
8. Treat your co-musicians/soloists with respect. Both musically and as a human being. You may not like the same stuff, but still everyone deserves to be treated right.
9. Check the web for any sheet music you may need. www.musicnotes.com has a lot! Feel free to check out my shop as well korarr.no/shop (mostly in norwegian, but some english as well. Hymn arrangements and my own music)
PART OF THE REASON FOR WRITING THIS BLOG IS TO LEARN MORE ABOUT MUSICAL EXPRESSIONS AND SUCH IN ENGLISH - FEEL FREE TO LEAVE COMMENTS CORRECTING ANY MISTAKES - I’M HAPPY TO LEARN:-)