Years ago, music schools like my alma mater New England Conservatory changed the music major title from Accompaniment to Collaborative Piano...
While this may seem like a major change, it’s simply a statement of respect for the musical partnership that has always existed. At the end of the day, the collaboration between vocalist and pianist transforms both of them by making them better musicians.
Collaborating with singers offers variety to pianists who often play by themselves. Here are some examples of what happens when you are working with vocalists. You may be asked to accompany a song that is already part of your repertoire. That’s where the similarity ends. The singer may request a different tempo, style, or musical feeling. In addition to that, you need to provide support rather than simply playing the melody as you would normally do in a solo piece.
Whether the music is familiar to you or not, you may often find yourself faced with the need to play in different keys other than the original because of the vocal range of the singer. This requires practice because everything you play will feel different under your fingers. You also need to be much more careful of dynamics due to the character of the voice, because the audience needs to hear the words. Thus, always being able to play at the right volume is essential.
Just imagine what kind of pianist you can become after you overcome the challenges of this new way of playing. Please understand that developing your skills takes practice and perseverance. I know this only too well. However, when it comes to collaboration, it’s all worth it!
Rehearsing and performing with another musical artist is like having a conversation. And it’s fun too! You bring your musical background, experience and personality to the equation and so does the vocalist. Then the magic happens! Each energizes and inspires the other. For example, if I set up a groove that the vocalist enjoys, she’ll embellish and interpret the melody in ways she might never have imagined. On the other hand, if the singer sets a tempo for a song that feels fresh to me, I’ll try an approach I never would have considered. What a growth opportunity it is to accompany singers. In addition, it offers the potential for bonding and developing a musical relationship.
Uniting through musical collaboration is an expansive experience in terms of human connection. It allows you to delve deeper into your art, and when you really think about it, this touches the realm of your identity.
So, my question to you is:
How would you like to become a better pianist? If you answered “yes”, consider enrolling in our Mascari Piano Accompaniment elective.