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...
Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned pro, singing with an accompanist can be daunting.
After all, your accompanist is responsible for keeping you on track and in time with the music.
But don’t worry, we’re here to help. Here are 5 tips for singing with an accompanist that will help make the experience a breeze.
What is Singing With Accompaniment Called?
Singing with accompaniment is called “vocal accompany.”
- Vocal accompany can be defined as singing with another person or people playing an instrument or instruments.
- When more than one person sings together without playing an instrument, this is known as “unaccompanied vocal singing.”
- Unaccompanied vocal singing can be done with or without a beat, but is generally considered to be more difficult than singing with accompaniment.
- Vocal accompany can be done in many different styles, including pop, rock, jazz, and classical. No matter what style you’re singing in, though, having someone else playing an instrument can help you stay on pitch and keep the melody going. It can also add a sense of richness and depth to your voice that you may not be able to achieve on your own.
Whether you’re looking to add a little something extra to your voice or you need some help staying on pitch, vocal accompany can be a great option. Sign up for singing lessons to learn more – and check out the fun and informative video below:
What is it Called When Someone Sings Without Accompaniment?
When someone sings without accompaniment, it is called a cappella singing. This type of singing has its roots in religious music, and it was often used in church settings before the introduction of musical instruments.
A cappella singing is still popular today, and there are many groups that specialize in this type of music. The human voice is a powerful instrument, and a skilled cappella singer can create a rich and full sound. This type of singing requires a great deal of control and breath support, and it can be quite challenging.
However, many people find cappella singing to be very beautiful and moving. Whether you are listening to a professional group or watching someone perform impromptu, a cappella singing is always sure to delight.
Singing Nerves With an Accompanist? Follow These Tips!
Singing with a pre-recorded track for a performance, audition, talent show, 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.
Stay aware of both your own vocal range and the range of the accompaniment throughout the song. This will help you stay within your comfort zone and avoid any sudden surprises when singing with an accompanist.
Also, be mindful of your dynamics. This is probably something you’re already doing when singing by yourself, but it’s even more important when singing with an accompanist because they will be playing at a volume that complements your own. If you find yourself getting too loud or too soft, make an adjustment so that both you and your accompaniment are balanced.
And of course, practice, practice, practice! The more comfortable you are with both the song and your own performance, the easier it will be to sing with an accompanist. So take some time before your rehearsal to run through the song on your own (or with a friend) so that you can get comfortable performing it without any sheet music.
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.
What to Do if You Find Yourself Singing Quiet With an Accompanist
If you find yourself singing quietly with an accompanist, there are a few things you can do to make the most of the situation.
First, it’s important to relax and focus on your breath. Taking shallow breaths will only make you more tense, so take deep breaths from your belly to help you relax.
Second, try to match the volume of your accompanist as closely as possible. This will help blend your voices together and create a more unified sound.
Finally, don’t be afraid to add your own interpretation to the music. If you’re feeling constrained by the dynamics of the piece, add your own dynamic flourish to show off your personality and creativity. By following these tips, you can turn a potentially uncomfortable situation into an opportunity to show off your vocal skills.
How Much Should I Pay An Accompanist?
If you’re a singer or instrumentalist, chances are you’ll need to hire an accompanist at some point in your career.
But how much should you pay them? There’s no simple answer, as rates can vary depending on the accompanist’s experience, the difficulty of the material, and the length of the performance.
However, there are a few general guidelines you can follow when setting your rate. First, be sure to ask around and get quotes from several different accompanists. This will give you a good idea of the going rate in your area. Second, be realistic about your budget and what you can afford to pay.
Keep in mind that an accomplished accompanist can make even the simplest piece sound complex and beautiful, so don’t be afraid to pay them what they’re worth.
Finally, remember that honesty is the best policy.
If you’re upfront about your budget from the start, you’re more likely to find an accompanist who’s willing to work within your price range. By following these tips, you can ensure that you get the best possible accompaniment for your next performance – without breaking the bank.
How Do You Accompany a Singer?
As a musician, you may be called upon to accompany a singer at some point in your career. Whether you are playing for a vocal student’s recital or accompanying a professional singer in a show or concert, there are some basic guidelines to follow to make sure the accompaniment is successful.
First, it is important to know the vocal range of the singer. This will help you choose appropriate repertoire and also know what registers of the singer’s voice will be used most often. It is also important to be aware of any vocal peculiarities such as an unusually high or low range, difficulty with certain vowel sounds, etc. Knowing about these things ahead of time will help you make choices about repertoire and also give you a better understanding of how to phrase the accompaniment.
Next, it is important to know the lyrics and the general meaning of the song. This will help you create an appropriate interpretation of the accompaniment. It is also helpful to know the context in which the singer will be performing the song. For example, if the song is part of a larger work such as an opera or musical, there may be specific things you need to do to support the action on stage.
Finally, it is important to have a good understanding of performance practice in the style of music you will be accompanying. This includes things like tempo, dynamics, and articulation. Again, this will help you create a more appropriate interpretation of the accompaniment.
Singing With an Accompanist Soon? You Got This!
Singing with an accompanist doesn’t have to be scary – in fact, it can be downright fun! Remember these five tips next time you find yourself in front of an audience (or even just in front of your laptop camera) and we guarantee you’ll nail that duet!
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