What is there to being an accompanist?

Thanks to word-of-mouth, I have landed some more piano students. In addition to teaching them, the woman hiring me also wants me to be an accompanist (sp?) for their opera voice coach, who teaches vocal lessons to her two children.

She told me that the voice coach would pay me a ‘cut’ of his profits from teaching students. This sounds exciting, but I’m kind of at a loss at what exactly I will be doing (music-wise).

I guess my biggest concern is that he is going to throw all these elaborate songs my way and say ‘go’. I can sight read just fine, but on more complicated pieces I can’t insta-learn them. I do want this job because I will be getting paid to sit there and play things (a big :eek: for me) while improving my own skills.

You need to be brave & honest, and pick up the phone and ask. If they need somebody to play the chords for the warmup, and a few accompaniements, fine. If they’re going to want a full score transposed down a third, it’s not happening. Find out what is required (which, done tacfully, is a reasonable request), and then make a decision.

I am waiting for the guy to call me back, he is a really busy fellla. When he’s not teaching vocals, he is at Stanford finishing his post-doctorate, as well as teaching over there.

As **GorillaMan ** says, it will depend so much on the pieces and what’s expected of you. If it’s simply accompanying basic lessons, then your sight reading will probably get you through. If it’s accompanying singers at exams or recitals, then you’ll also need to be “in synch” to some extent with the singers whom you’re accompanying. An accompanist who can “work with” the singer rather than just “play the music” is worth his weight in gold.

Quoted for truth, by a singer.

Amen to that! I can’t tell you how many accompanists I’ve played with who wouldn’t even notice if the soloist stopped playing! A good accompanist can communicate well with the soloist, following his/her breathing, phrasing, and mood, even if the soloist gets flustered. It’s hard to find a good piano accompanist, in my experience, because pianists often times are used to playing alone. I could always pick out the new accompanists because they would play as if their pianos were set on 11. Much, much too loud. Playing (or singing) in a group is a skill in and of itself - bad news if you haven’t done much of it, but like any skill, it can be practiced!
At my music school all the piano majors (IIRC) were required several semesters of accompanying. In our earlier years we’d get matched up based on scheduling for juries, etc., but as upperclassmen we could woo whomever we wanted. A select few were always sought after. By sought after of course I mean bribed with money, beer, herbs of various varieties, because they were so damned good.
Slight hijack there, sorry. As for the OP, even if you are just doing voice lessons I think you should go for it. Even that little bit will allow you to become a better accompanist should the opportunity arise again.

Try listening to Gerald Moore’s The Unashamed Accompanist. He’s perhaps best known for accompanying singers of German Lieder. I haven’t heard this in years and remember little of it, but I do remember it was great fun to listen to.

In the singing classes I took, we were told/taught that the singer sets the pacing for the song. As the singer, I did not have to worry about keeping up with the accompanist or rushing ahead; the accompanist follows my lead. I learned to let the accompaniment support my voice; when the accompaniment is too soft, I sing too softly. When we worked one on one, the accompanist would sometimes suggest running the song in a different key to see if it worked better that way.

I may be off base, but that’s what I’ve come to expect from an accompanist.