Workshop with Chen Yang

Improve your string accompanying skills in a workshop with Chen Yang

When: Saturday 26 May, 2PM

Where: MTAQ, Suite 26, on level one of the Taringa Centre, 200 Moggill Road, Taringa.

Tickets available at the door. Cost $15 or pensioner or student concession $10

Participants, to secure your place for this very informative event

Please contact AGQ Secretary, Ms Barbara Clifford  on


A little about Chen…

Come along and enjoy this masterclass on working with string players –  Chen is one of Brisbane’s most dynamic and experienced performers, teacher and mentor, as well as an enigmatic conductor…….

Chen Yang has had a long association with Queensland Youth Orchestra, having first joined as a violinist in 1975 and was concertmaster of QYS from 1978 to 1980, touring with the orchestra in 1980 to Europe, including the International Festival of Youth Orchestras in Aberdeen, Scotland. Attributing these positive QYO musical experiences as a major influence in choosing music as a career, Chen studied at the Queensland Conservatorium of Music and graduated with distinction in violin performance.

As his first professional musical undertaking, Chen was the Concertmaster of the Queensland Theatre Orchestra (later renamed the Queensland Philharmonic Orchestra), working under the distinguished Maestro, Georg Tintner. In 1981 Chen joined the Queensland Symphony Orchestra where he played in the first violin section until 1989.

Deciding on a change, Chen spent the next spent two years as musician-in-residence on Dunk Island Holiday Resort in North Queensland where he led a string quartet and performed as a cabaret violins. He continued as a freelance musician throughout the early 1990s, performing in show orchestras for many major musical productions at QPAC.

Chen is the leader and conductor of The Sinfonia of St Andrew’s orchestra and is the string teacher and conductor at St Hilda’s School, Southport. He adjudicates regularly for eisteddfods and competitions and is also a prolific arranger of string music for the Junior String Ensemble. Chen was the conductor of QYO3 from 1983 to 1988 and since 1991 has been the conductor of the Junior String Ensemble.


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.

July 2013 Newsletter

08 July 2013

Dear fellow accompanists and Guild members,

Although it has been a while since the last Newsletter was sent to members, the Accompanists’ Guild committee has been kept busy, continuing to promote the benefits of the Association and always aiming to satisfy members’ interests.

As announced earlier this year, we are presenting our first Master Class for Young Accompanists with violinist Stephen Chin, the organisation of which has been the main focus of our recent meetings.  The application form for participation was of course sent to everyone some months ago.  Now, we would like to invite all accompanists to attend this event taking place on Saturday 3rd August at 3:00pm, in the Music Teachers’ Association of Queensland auditorium, Taringa.  We strongly ask you to make an effort to come and support not only the young “apprentice” pianists who will be performing a very attractive repertoire with our Guest Teacher, but also the activities that the Guild organises for your benefit.

Another important date coming up is the Annual General Meeting which this year has been set for Sunday 25 August – a little earlier than last year.  Please make a note of this date in your diaries now, and again endeavour to be there!  It is one of the few opportunities when members can be together, and with a special guest speaker to entertain us, it will be an enjoyable occasion.  Annual membership fees also need to be paid before this date.  All the information will be mailed to you soon.

Following on from the promotional posters sent to a number of Queensland schools last year, we have recently placed an advertisement for the Guild in the printed programme of the Queensland Vocal Competition held in May.  This will surely be of benefit to singers looking for accompanists in performance situations, and we will continue placing this advertisement in future years.

Please continue to check the Guild website regularly.  It is attractively maintained (with a link to our Facebook page) by Kathy Sander, and contains the latest information on various issues concerning accompanists, as well as members’ profiles.  Currently, young accompanist Alex Raineri is featured.  If you are interested in being represented on the site, please contact Kathy!

grahamjohnsonFinally, some interesting international news:  good to hear that well-known accompanist Graham Johnson has been awarded the Wigmore Hall Medal in recognition of his “unstinting championing of song and his extraordinary achievements on the concert platform and in recordings”.  Graham Johnson’s discography includes the complete songs of Schubert and Schumann.  Let’s all be inspired by his accomplishments!

Looking forward to welcoming you to our events soon,

Regis Danillon


Accompanists’ Guild of Queensland

download AGQ Newsletter July 2013

Workshop for Young Accompanists

Accompanists’ Guild of Queensland Inc.
for Young Accompanists with
Mr Stephen Chin, Violin
Saturday 3rd August 2013 3:00pm
MTAQ Auditorium, Suite 26, Taringa Centre, 200 Moggill Road TARINGA



• The Accompanists’ Guild of Queensland is pleased to provide an opportunity for school and tertiary students to gain experience in the art of Piano Accompaniment and encourage them to perform with a professional artist, in a Master Class situation.
• The Master Class is to take place on Saturday 3rd August and will be held at the MTAQ Auditorium. It will be a 2-hour event limited to 8 participants. The Master Class teacher will be violinist Stephen Chin, who will assume the role of soloist with the participants. Mr Chin’s biography can be found on the back page of this form.
• Selected students must be active pianists currently taking lessons with a teacher who will assist them with the preparation of their work.
• Repertoire: Each participant will select a piece of moderate duration from the Violin repertoire and prepare the piano accompaniment part of that piece. Works of approximately Grade 3 and above are preferred, but any level will be considered. Please consult the AMEB (or equivalent) syllabus, or take the advice of a violin teacher for suggestions. Assistance in choice and preparation will be provided by the Guild, if requested.
• Participants must be keen to work, respond positively to suggestions and be prepared to take part in discussions with the Master Class teacher.
• There is NO FEE for selected participants. The Class will be public and audience members, who may include parents, teachers, members of the Accompanists Guild and friends, will be invited to contribute with an admission donation of a gold coin.
• For further information, please contact the President of the AGQ, or any member of the Committee. Contact details can be found at
As a founding member of the Sydney Youth Orchestra, Stephen’s interest and enthusiasm for music lead him to undertake further studies at Sydney University where formal training in both violin and composition were completed. Since that time, he has been invited to perform with such groups as the ABC Sinfonietta, the Badinerie Players, the Queensland Philharmonic Orchestra, the Queensland Pops Orchestra and Corda Spiritus. In addition to this, Stephen performs regularly with a number of professional chamber ensembles.
Stephen publishes a number of string compositions and arrangements which have been used as test pieces for a number of competitions throughout Australia and are also presented as examination pieces for the AMEB. Stephen Chin has been invited many times to adjudicate various Eisteddfods and competitions such as Queensland festival of Music, The Western Australian Schools Orchestra Festival, the Hobart Eisteddfod and the Gold Coast Eisteddfod. He is also in demand as a string and orchestral clinician, regularly conducting a number of workshops and festivals both nationally and internationally.
Stephen is presently Principal String Teacher and Director of orchestras at Brisbane Grammar School, is a lecturer at Queensland Conservatorium of Music, conducts the BEL Orchestra at the University of Queensland, and is the President of the Australian String Teachers ‘ Association for Queensland (AUSTA Q). Stephen Chin has completed the Masters of Music Course at the Queensland Conservatorium, specialising in violin performance and pedagogy, and is currently a string and theory examiner for the AMEB.