Developing the skills necessary to become an effective collaborative choral pianist



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In the past, the term “accompanist” was used to refer to the pianist who played with the choir and who supported or assisted the choir conductor. The pianist’s role was clearly regarded as a subsidiary one. However, today, the term “collaborative choral pianist” is preferred because it recognizes that the pianists must possess a wide range of skills and that they share an equal responsibility with the conductor in the task of training and preparing the choir. In general, most collegiate piano students or novice collaborative choral pianists spend a great deal of time practicing solo works but often are not given enough direction with the collaborative literature. Students who are assigned to accompany choirs are often expected to pick up the necessary skills on their own. They are often not told about the specific expectations of the position and become extremely frustrated. However, the ability to be a successful collaborative choral pianist is not just a talent given to some but not others. Rather, the specific techniques can be taught and developed. This paper discusses the importance of close communications between the choral conductor and choral pianist, enumerate common points of misunderstanding, and describe the most important skills that are needed to be an effective collaborative choral pianist. It gives practical suggestions for developing these skills, focusing on the preparation that is needed before the first rehearsal, and on methods for reducing/arranging the vocal and/or orchestral scores.



Choral pianist, Collaborative choral pianist, Collaborative, Choral accompanying, Accompanist