What do Accompanists do?An Accompanist is usually somebody who supports a singer, choir or an instrumentalist, by playing a musical accompaniment. There are many types of Accompanist. An Accompanist is often, but not always, a pianist. They may provide musical accompaniment to silent film, dance classes, choirs, or other musicians including ensembles, bands and individual musicians. A singing teacher who plays the piano for their pupil while they are singing is providing accompaniment just as a band or full orchestra do, when they and a singer perform a song.
An Accompanist is often required to provide musical accompaniment at exams, recitals, auditions and competitions. A singer can hire an Accompanist for an individual performance or series of shows if no other accompaniment is available, so the Accompanist needs to be a bit of a juggler! As well as sight reading the music, they have to listen to the singers intonation and phrasing in order to adapt their playing to each singers unique style of performing.
Any instrument can be used to accompany the voice — including other voices. The most usual combinations are piano and voice, guitar and voice, organ and voices (choral), but other combinations like violin and voice, saxophone and voice or percussion and voice can be equally successful.
Being an Accompanist can be particularly rewarding when they and the singer or other musicians have the opportunity to collaborate and to build a rapport. Working together on an arrangement by rehearsing and discussing ideas allows both parties to produce a well thought out and exciting programme of music. Sometimes Accompanists are referred to by the title Collaborative Artist or Collaborative Pianist, which reflects the growing appreciation of the nature of the role. A number of classical pianists have become famous as Accompanists rather than soloists.
The term Accompanist is also used to refer to a musician who is used during an audition or rehearsal for a theatre production or other performance to stand in for the actual musician or musicians who will perform on the night.
Musicians who work as Accompanists are usually self-employed. Many have other work to supplement their income, often as musicians or teachers, or in other roles in the music industry. An Accompanist needs to have a high level of musical proficiency, and to be flexible and sensitive to the style and needs of the musicians or artists they are working with. If they are working collaboratively with other musicians they also need creative skills.
Accompanist jobs which have appeared on the Music Match jobsboard:
Spanish Speaking Accompanist (Guitar or Keyboard) for an Early Years Music Programme