Gearing up for a singing performance and need a piano accompanist? Check out these tips to make your (and your accompanist’s!) life easier in this guest post by Corona, CA voice teacher Milton J...
Singing with a pre-recorded track for a performance, audition, or singing competition has its advantages with on-demand accompaniment and less resources needed, however, using an accompanist can make that performance or audition even better. Here are some tips on how to practice singing with an piano accompanist.
Sheet Music Preparation
Make sure all sheet music is copied in its entirety with no cut off pages. This is an oft-overlooked issue, as we’re always in a hurry to get things done. Pay close attention to make sure any copies are a direct replication of what’s from the song book. Additionally, use a highlighter to clearly mark the staves for the piano part and any tempo or dynamic changes so your accompanist can easily identify them. Also make sure to clearly mark any changes to the published sheet music you are making in your vocals.
Sing a few lines a cappella for your accompanist so he or she can understand the beat pulse you’re going for in order to match tempo together. By providing the pulse you have practiced your vocals with or how you want the tempo to pace the song in your performance, this will alleviate one of the pitfalls of an audition or performance — the dreaded drag and juxtaposition of tempo between the vocalist and the accompanist.
Have a clear and direct interpretation of the song or piece you are performing to give your accompanist some musicality to parse from to enhance his or her accompaniment. If you deliver an uninspired or otherwise incorrect interpretation of the piece, your accompanist will not able to derive the emotion or the story you are trying to convey to the audience. The accompaniment serves to help you tell this story or convey this emotion to your listeners — it is important to already have an idea of what and how you will deliver your vocals.
Discuss Audition Plans
If you plan to use the piece you are practicing with your accompanist for an audition, openly talk about your performance plans: how you will indicate you are ready to begin, where you will stand in relation to the piano if need be, and when and how you will acknowledge your accompanist when you are done are all parts of the performance that should be discussed so you are both on the same page.
Search Out the Best Accompanist for You
The piano accompanists that will bring the best out of you as a singer are the ones who understand balance between the vocals and the piano, and the texture the vocals present in the piece. As a vocalist, these are discussions you should have with your accompanist. Come to an agreement in theory and in practice on what proportion of music will be delivered from you and from them.
I hope these tips help you in your singing lessons as you practice for that upcoming performance, singing competition, or audition! Happy practicing!
Milton J. teaches guitar, piano, singing, music recording, music theory, opera voice, songwriting, speaking voice, and acting lessons in Corona, CA. He specializes in classical, R&B, soul, pop, rock, jazz, and opera styles. Learn more about Milton here!
Photo by Penn State