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.

shellihThe 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.

AGQ 2015 Master Class Entry Form

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,

Accompanists Guild of Queensland Inc.

Some Tips for Piano Accompanists

• 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.