by John Gardner
January is a month that often includes preparation for solo festival. Many will have an opportunity to practice with an accompanist, perhaps a new experience.
As instrumentalists, you should realize how long it takes to learn to play piano with the level of proficiency required to accompany your solo. Some pianists have invested thousands in private instruction and college educations. They are proficient at their craft just like an electrician, plumber, mechanic….or a teacher, professor, attorney or doctor. We are fortunate to have pianists willing to work with you. They deserve your respect, your preparation and your appreciation. This note should serve as a guide in working with your pianist.
Your accompanist will 1)spend time practicing your music, 2) spend time and expense coming to school to practice with you, 3) sacrifice part of an evening to help you in our practice recital, and 4) spend over half a day traveling to the contest site and performing with you at District. Group 1 Music is significantly more difficult AND… if you get GOLD at District, your accompanist is then committed to additional practice time and a whole day of time and expense travelling to Indianapolis.
Respect. Most pianists will coach you with their expert advice. Unless they suggest something that conflicts with your private instructor’s instructions, accept their advice as authoritative.
Prepare. Do NOT dis-respect your pianist’s time by not being prepared. You can’t be perfect, but you can be prepared.
Appreciate. Pianists don’t accompany for the big bucks, but some some rely on this as part of his/her income. Unless you have a different arrangement with your particular accompanist, consider an appropriate amount [locally we suggest @$25 min] to cover preparation, about two practices and performance (including recital) through District, and then a respectable amount to cover the additional time, and expense for state finals. Agree in advance with your pianist, including payment terms. And a thank you card is a nice touch…..