When reading through other blog posts on MTH this month I notice that the focus is on ‘back to school’ for most of the writers. Down here in the Southern Hemisphere we’re in the second half of the teaching year and my students are currently in the thick of the eisteddfod/competition season and are looking ahead to the end of year exam sessions in a few months time. Consequently, the focus in my studio over the past month has been memorisation. [···]

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Most piano students take lessons with the intention of being solo performers, without realizing that at some point in their years as a pianist, they will undoubtedly be asked to take on the roll as an accompanist. The piano is the most commonly used instrument to accompany both vocalists and instrumentalists, and all great accompanists you see today, at some point in their training, had to learn the art of accompanying.

You notice I used the word “art” when referring to accompanying skills. Just because you can play the piano well, does not mean that you can accompany well. It truly is an art form that takes much hands-on experience to learn and perfect. I love what the great American accompanist Irwin Cage said, “There are many great accompanists who are very good pianists, but there are not many pianists who are good accompanists.”

We as teachers can provide our students with opportunities to learn and practice this skill while in their early years during lessons.

I will list a few suggestions of ways that you can help your students learn to accompany: [···]

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