One of my high school students was asked by her high school choir director to accompany their Christmas concert this year. She has been practicing the music for about three weeks, and we have been working on her accompanying skills during her lessons.
Here are five tips for beginning accompanists that my students have found helpful, and hopefully your young accompanists will find them helpful as well.
Get a specific tempo from the director for each song before you begin practicing. You don't want to practice something too slowly or too quickly. It's best to know the performance tempo before you begin so that you know what your final performance goal is.
Three-hole-punch your music and put it in a binder as soon as you receive it. This will streamline your practice sessions and keep the music from falling off the piano as you as you work on your page turns.
Practice the page turns so that they become a seamless part of the performance. Plan in advance whether you need to omit notes, what notes you will omit, and which hand will turn the pages so that you can practice that choreography.
Know how the director conducts entrances and cut-offs. If you have participated in choir or band, you are probably very aware of following the director. If not, this is something the director will have to help you get used to. Your piano teacher can work with you on this as well.
Play musically. No matter what, no matter when, play musically. Think of accompanying as an artistic endeavor, and perform artistically. You will be supporting the choir in many ways, but supporting them musically will enhance the performance.
These simple tips can make a first-time accompanist's rehearsals and performances run more smoothly, and they can greatly increase the likelihood that the accompanist will feel confident and have a positive experience.
Do you have more tips for beginning accompanists to add to this list? Please comment below. I'd love to hear from you!