July 2015 Newsletter
AGQ President Newsletter July 2015
Dear fellow accompanists and Guild members,
As I lie rather uncomfortably on the bed, with one leg resting on a cushion, I am reminded of the vicissitudes of life and unexpected turns of events which can “throw a spanner” in our daily routine of activities.
In early June, I suffered a nasty home accident when I slipped in the bathroom and did “the splits,” leaving me in pain with a torn hamstring as a result. This necessitated surgical procedure and following a couple of days in hospital, I found myself having to wear a leg brace for 6 weeks and walking around on crutches! Needless to say, this put an immediate stop to my teaching and my school students missed out on lessons for the last 3 weeks of last term (to their joy and relief, I imagine!). Accompanying duties and a couple of small concert engagements were also cancelled and a planned overseas trip during the school holidays was postponed. Hopefully in a few weeks, I will be fully “repaired” and I look forward to a less demoralising time ahead.
There are some important events coming soon, and I urge members to make a note of them and show their support. On the 8th August, the Guild is pleased to present its 3rd Master Class for Young Accompanists at the MTAQ Auditorium. This year we have the expertise of Ms Shelli Hulcombe, a Voice teacher at the Conservatorium, who will help some young pianists develop their skills in vocal accompanying. The repertoire will be varied and interesting. Please make a special effort to come and encourage these young musicians, then stay on for the Annual General Meeting, which will follow the Master Class. Members are being sent all documents relevant to this function, and it is most important that we have a good turn-up here also to guarantee a quorum. All Committee positions will be open, including that of President. Please consider taking an active part in the running of our association – we definitely need some keen and enthusiastic people to take the helm of the Guild, and help it continue to develop and progress on its future path.
The Committee would like to welcome warmly all new accompanists who have joined the Guild recently, and we hope your association will be beneficial and productive. We look forward to meeting you soon at our forthcoming events!
In the meantime, Happy Accompanying and all the best to everyone.
Regis Danillon – President Accompanists’ Guild of Queensland
Master Class for Young Accompanists
Dear Guild members,
On behalf of the committee, I am pleased to announce the details of the Accompanists’ Guild of Queensland’s third Master Class for Young Accompanists, to be held on Saturday 8 August from 2.00-4.00pm.
It is open to school and tertiary students.
The Master Class teacher will be singer, Ms Shelli Hulcombe, who will assume the role of soloist with the participants. There is a nominal fee of $10 for selected participants.
Some of the members have already expressed interest on behalf of their students, and you are encouraged to “spread the word” to promote this wonderful opportunity for the young pianists in our community.
The entry form is attached and entries close on Saturday 15th June.
Letter from the AGQ to AMEB Head Office
The Accompanists Guild of Queensland has recently become aware of a surprising and misjudged policy adopted by the AMEB, of introducing recorded accompaniments for use in practical music exams “as an alternative to accompanists”. As an association of professional accompanists, we are very concerned by this worrying initiative, and wish to strongly voice our disapproval of this decision.
While we recognise that recorded accompaniments may benefit students in the preparation and practice of pieces in some cases, the use of recorded “backing” in the actual examination can only provide a disservice to the young musicians. For one thing, we do not believe that “the availability of accompanists has become an issue”, at least in the major centres. All our members are competent and experienced musicians, and always help the soloists to perform at their best.
The AMEB should, on the contrary, encourage the use of accompanists in the examination room by not making it simply optional. How can a nervous young student doing an exam for the first time for instance, feel that he/she is safe and secure when following a tape which will play “at the 100% tempo” without regard for tonal balance, and unresponsive to the candidate’s stage of technical development? In more advanced cases, works which require good musical rapport between solo part and accompaniment can only be compromised and devoid of character and creative interpretation.
There are many other aspects of performance that can be affected without a real, live person, sensitive to nuances of interpretation, and supporting the solo candidate with commitment and sincerity.
We sincerely hope that the AMEB will reconsider their ill-advised decision and disregard this policy to demonstrate a more intelligent and understanding attitude towards ensemble playing, and to maintain some fundamental principles of good music-making in performance presentations.
Accompanists’ Guild of Queensland, Inc.
Download and print the above letter penned by our President, Mr Regis Danillon
Join the debate
Read this excellent letter penned by Mr David Miller
Chair of the Accompaniment Studies Unit at Sydney Conservatorium of Music, the President of the Accompanists’ Guild of NSW
AGQ Constitution 2015
November Newsletter 2014
3rd November 2014
Dear fellow accompanists and Guild members,
Once again, the months are passing by at an alarming rate, and most of us are probably now
submerged in semiquavers and dotted minims, with the exam season in full swing! I hope that
everyone has plenty to do in the weeks ahead, before the starving months of December and
Two important events have occurred since my last contact in July, both of them unsurprisingly
disregarded by the majority of members and poorly attended. I must say at this point that in
my 3 years as President of this association there are accompanists whom I have never met.
Our few functions are a great opportunity to network and meet fellow accompanists. It is just
unfortunate that members have such a reluctance to “show” themselves!
In early August, the second Master Class for Young Accompanists was held at the MTAQ
Auditorium, and attended by 3 of our 61 members (an improvement on last year!). There were
8 young, promising pianists who presented themselves before an appreciative audience made up
mostly of parents and friends. It was wonderful to see our invited flute teacher, Janine
Grantham, play with them some unusual and attractive repertoire and discuss the finer points
of performance, which would also have been of benefit to many of us, professionals.
The Annual General Meeting took place a couple of weeks later and was attended by 12
members. It was preceded by a Special General Meeting in which the revised and updated
Constitution of the Guild was introduced and adopted by those present. There are few
changes which would affect members directly. One of the differences concerns the fact that
members of the executive can now hold their positions for longer than 3 years. As a result,
and lack of forthcoming nominations, the current members of the executive have all retained
their positions for another year, and one new person has joined the Committee. We welcome
Barbara Clifford to our group.
Many members will have noticed that this Newsletter is now headed by a “refreshed” logo for
the Guild. We thank sincerely Jo Gibson who has been working with the Guild to give a cleaner
look to our logo, which is now with well-drawn keyboard keys and without a tail for the “Q”!
The name next to it confirms directly who we are. We hope you like the revised design!
The Committee is now considering ideas for next year so that we can present some interesting
activities. Please let the Committee know of any inspired suggestions you may have.
Finally, a friendly warning to any member who still hasn’t paid their dues at this stage, that
your name has been deleted (or is about to be) from the lists of accompanists on our website
and the mailing list. We hope that we do not “lose” anyone this way! Please remember that
“L’union fait la force “ (unity makes strength). The Guild needs everyone’s support!
All the best from the Committee!
Regis Danillon – President
Accompanists’ Guild of Queensland
AGQ Youth Protection Policy
AGQ Youth Protection Policy
Statement of Commitment
The Accompanists’ Guild of Queensland Inc. is committed to the safety and wellbeing of all children and young people, including those who use our services. The Guild expects its members to always provide a safe and supportive environment, and our members are expected to treat children and young people with respect and understanding and aim to address their concerns at all times.
Members are advised to be aware of legal requirements for “Working with Children Check” (Blue Card).
Code of Conduct
Members of the Accompanists’ Guild of Queensland agree that they will:
Respect the rights, dignity and worth of every person, regardless of their abilities, gender, religion or cultural background;
Provide a safe and supportive environment for young people;
Refrain from using abusive, derogatory or offensive language; and
Impart knowledge and skills in a respectful and encouraging manner.
Masterclass for Young Accompanists 2014
Master Class for Young Accompanists August 2014
Words by Juanita Simmonds
On a Saturday afternoon in Brisbane, seven school-aged musicians took a turn at the piano to perform and rehearse live with a professional flautist in a Masterclass organised by the Accompanists Guild of Queensland.
The participants, aged between 12 and 18, are currently studying solo piano but have an interest in making music with others as piano accompanists or associate artists.
The soloist and instructor in this Masterclass was Mrs Janine Grantham, known in Queensland as an orchestral flautist, teacher and AMEB Senior Examiner with many years experience.
The event was open to members of the public, accompanists, and parents of the participants. The audience observed Janine encouraging and shaping the musical ensemble. She provided tips on how to work with a flute soloist on issues such as intonation, timing and entries in repertoire as varied as Schumann, Faure and “Blues at Eleven”.
Accompaniment masterclasses and workshops often are run by pianists and can tend to focus ultimately on piano technique. This Masterclass was innovative in being facilitated by a soloist who can advise the pianist on typical balance problems with their solo instrument while helping to bring the duo together in an artistic and musically satisfying way.
The session was organised by the Accompanists’ Guild of Queensland in response to interest from young pianists wanting to develop their skills of accompaniment. President of the Guild, Mr Regis Danillon, said that the participants were keen and engaged with Mrs Grantham’s instruction and music making.
“The first accompaniment Masterclass was held in 2013 and was quite successful so we ran it again this year. I think there is enough of a demand to continue this as a regular event in Brisbane’s musical calendar,” said Mr Danillon.
You can register your interest for the next Masterclass by emailing the Secretary of the Accompanists’ Guild of Qld, firstname.lastname@example.org
Accompanists Guild of Queensland Inc.
Some Tips for Piano Accompanists
SOME TIPS FOR PIANO ACCOMPANISTS
By STEPHEN CHIN
• Always attempt to get your music well ahead of time. Reference to a recording can be most helpful.
• Development of good sight reading skills is extremely important yet fun!
• Do lots of “easy” pieces when starting out to boost your confidence.
• Check bars numbers, rehearsal figures and repeats – they can vary between editions
• Never be afraid to edit. Accompaniments fit roughly into three categories – good, difficult and impossible.
• Try to devise musical cuts for long introductions or interludes. Be sure that the phrasing and harmony makes sense.
• Maintain good eye contact with your associate artist.
• If your associate artist gets lost, try to play their line with your bass line part until a recovery is made.
• If YOU get lost, try to maintain one hand – usually the bass line.
• Always follow the solo part and be as familiar with it as you can.
• Endeavour to match phrasing where possible.
• Be wary of fluctuating rhythms – easier sections for the solo part tend to rush and more difficult ones can slow down considerably.
• From time to time, it may be beneficial for you to help your associate artist pitch their notes. This can take time but must not dominate the rehearsal.
• Practise faster pieces faster than the required tempo just in case your associate artist wishes to go at a brighter pace.
• Be prepared for bars, lines or even pages that are skipped.
• Read at least one bar ahead – the more the merrier!
• It is important to note that instrumentalists especially string players use a different tuning system to the piano’s equal temperament tuning. The lowest string on an instrument will usually have to be sharpened a little.
• A D Minor chord is standard for an instrumentalist to tune to. However, violins and basses may tune to a DEGA cluster, whilst cellists and violists may like a CDGA cluster.
• Dynamics must be carefully observed but be aware of tonal balance at all times. For instance a piece may be marked forte in both parts but if you are accompanying an eighth size violin, adjustments obviously have to be made.
• Page turns need to be addressed – it is fine to make a copy of a page if the turn is difficult. There are some electronic tablets that can display an image by tapping the foot on a pedal.
• Try to develop good transposition skills. Often singers like to try pieces in different keys. Baroque instrumentalists will usually play down a semitone.
• Beginnings and endings of pieces need to be thoroughly rehearsed.
• Regular practise with a metronome is essential. The keyboard part is like the foundations of a building and needs to be solidly supportive.
• Familiarise yourself with a wide range of styles – e.g. Contrapuntal, Rock, Latin, Jazz, etc
• Observe proper etiquette – your associate artist should acknowledge you and the conclusion of a work. If you are playing a sonata with musically equal parts, then you should take a bow together.
PRINT – SOME TIPS FOR PIANO ACCOMPANISTS – By Mr Stephen Chin
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