Meri’s Musical Musings

10 tips for soloists working with accompanists

Posted on: February 28, 2014

  1. Know your part, making sure you count the rests out loud when you are practicing the piece on your own, particularly less experienced soloists.
  2. Study the score with recordings, whether on sites such as youtube but preferably audio recordings. Try to listen to professionals performing the pieces, who typically play them at the correct tempo and articulations; student/amateur recordings tend to play slow pieces too fast and fast pieces too slow with incorrect articulation. Folk songs and sometimes Baroque era music, however, can be successful at a wider range of tempos than Classical Romantic and 20th/21st century period music.
  3. If you can, practice your piece with a recorded accompaniment, to save time and money. A growing number of music books for students up to the intermediate level are providing recordings of the piano accompaniment on CD or for digital download. If dowloading an accompaniment for an arrangement of a piece from outside of the publisher given, make sure the recording is the same arrangement and concert key, especially for elementary pieces and for singers, which can be available in several keys.
  4. Be willing and open to the accompanist’s suggestions, particularly on corrections to your rhythm or phrasing. Most accompanists have played a number of pieces a few to several times to know what it’s supposed to sound like, and know what good versus poor phrasing sounds like on a variety of instruments.
  5. Provide originals of the sheet music when possible, and if not, put it in a three ring binder with the pieces in the order you intend to perform them, especially if it’s for a recital or an audition that requires a few pieces. Copy pages on two sides if possible, but keep two page pieces on facing pages as much as possible. If you cannot copy on two sides, either put opposite pages in page protectors or tape opposite pages together, but only of the same piece. Note that almost all exam boards and most competitions do not allow photocopies, and a growing number of auditions for music programs after high school do not either. Originals provide a more polished looking presentation too.
  6. Be sure you have enough stamina through several practice sessions of 45 min to 1 hour during the last week or two before the first rehearsal to last through about an hour of rehearsal time, particularly for singers, wind players, and upper strings.
  7. Be willing to go over each piece 3-4 times per rehearsal, especially at the first rehearsal, you can do it by experimenting with slight changes in dynamics, tempo, and phrasing.
  8. Even if your school music teacher told you otherwise, PLAY/SING OUT! And in tune with good tone quality. Remember pianos can be very loud, especially a mid-size or larger grand. Particularly in auditions for music programs after high school and anywhere that you’re performing in a large venue.
  9. Bring a pencil! Sometimes there are errors in the solo part compared to the score, or the accompanist wants you to highlight something.
  10. Bring your own stand, especially if rehearsing in the accompanist’s home.
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  • None
  • V V: Wish I had read this before I fell for their scheme ! Oh well - have posted my experience on Yelp and N49 and hoping others can avoid the pain of fal
  • clariniano: Thanks for the additional information. It was actually Yelp that deleted my reviews, because of so-called bias. I too have seen the horrible technique
  • No Thanks: Former Teacher at the Ontario Conservatory of Music I took lessons at the Ontario Conservatory and when I left for private lessons from another tea
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