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  • Zoe Lim

3 Tips for Piano Accompanists

Being an accompanist to other musicians is perhaps one of the most enjoyable experience a pianist can have. It is always a delight to collaborate with other musicians, after all, music is meant to be shared! Not only can it improve your techniques and skills, but you get to open doors to other musical learning opportunities.

Playing the piano solo is different from playing with others. Forming an understanding and musical bond with your fellow musicians can enhance the performance greatly. Being in a different mindset when performing can create confusion and sticky situations. To prevent conflicts, here are some tips that you should be aware of as an accompanist!

1. Form a mutual understanding with your partner

Having a rich musical chemistry with your fellow performers can make or break a performance. Knowing each other's strengths and weaknesses can help improve the performance more than you think. For example, if one lacks skill in a certain area, another can make up for it, and vice versa. Understanding the other performers will also prevent conflict as open communication is key to improvement.

2. Decide who is 'following' and 'leading'

In a rock band, the 'drummer' is usually the leader who decides the rhythm and tempo of the piece they are going to play. Other instrumentalists and singer will look towards the drummer for direction and cues. Bass is also another instrument commonly used to set the tempo of the performance. Therefore, if you are performing in a group, clarify which instrument is leading and which is following. A pianist may sometimes have to take on a more active role and be the 'leader' of the group.

3. Know your music theory

This tip may not be for everyone. Some of you may naturally have good ears and can play without extensive musical knowledge. However, learning some basic music theory will not hurt at all. In fact, it can go a long way in your musical journey. Learning how to sight-read can be a very useful skill when performing with other musicians. Knowing your key and chord progression is also a no-brainer as it will make your job easier if the group has to change keys.

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