Today I had spent my first day working as an accompanist. It was the first time I had worked as one, so I really didn’t know exactly what to expect. I had talked on the phone with the voice coach who hired me to get a vague idea of what he needed me to do.
I had asked him if I should pick up the pieces he was going to teach his students, so that I could get some practice on them before we started on Sunday. He assured me that I wouldn’t need to, that things were going to be pretty simple, etc.
Well, today I came to the jarring realization that he expected me to just play all these arias, without any prior preparation or practice :eek: I was mortified…I mean, when he asked me over the phone, “Can you read sheet music?” I truthfully told him “yes” because I can read the music, but if you give me something I’ve never seen, let alone heard before it will take me a few days of practice to get it down at the very least. So for much of the lessons I kept screwing up both because I was nervous as hell and because I had never seen the material before.
The best way I can describe it is having one of those nightmares where you are in school, and have to take an exam you haven’t studied for. Only this was in real life. After the lessons were over and he paid me, he warned me that ‘sight reading’ (reading a piece of music the musician has never seen/heard before) is crucial to being an accompanist- he’d let me come back next week to see if I can improve but if not, he would have to look for someone else. I’m a little frustrated as to why he just can’t give me a bunch of arias and have me work on them on my own time; sure I can’t play it out of the blue but give me a week and I can get 8 arias down if my livelihood is depending on it. However I’m sure from his prespective, he probably wants someone that can meet his demands. Ultimately the only real reason he went along with it today (and agreed to have me come back next week) is that I was the only person he could find on such short notice.