The Pianist’s Guide
All You Need To Know About Performing With Student Soloists At St. Olaf
To St. Olaf pianists:
The following pages contain important information that all student pianists should know when collaborating with soloists at St. Olaf. All of the items have been approved by the on-campus group, ACCOMP (Accompanist Coalition Covering Olaf’s Music Program), and are the results of lessons learned through the experience of many students. We hope that this book will enhance the musical experiences at St. Olaf for both pianists and soloists. If you have any questions or comments about this book, please contact the ACCOMP group via email at email@example.com. Best of luck in your performances!
TABLE OF CONTENTS
-Important Dates to Remember
-Collaborative Pianists at St. Olaf College
-How to Get Paid for Juries and Recitals
-Extra Payment for Extra Work
-Contract for Student Soloists and Pianists
-Organization – Know Your Limits
-Where to Practice
- Fall Semester - November 1
- Spring Semester - April 1
- Fall and Interim Semesters - May 31
- Spring Semester - October 15
(These are the same dates required by St. Olaf staff pianists)
Tour Soloists Auditions – May 31
- Thursday Recitals – 30 days before the performance
- Continuance and Entrance Recitals – 30 days before the performance
- NATS Competition – 30 days before the performance
The music department staff pianists, Lori Ronning Folland and John Jensen, also play for many official recitals. Their main priority is to accompany juried recitals (including third and fourth year BM Performance and Church Music Majors, fourth year BM Music Education Majors as well as departmental distinction candidates). Students performing a junior or senior recital and wishing to perform with a staff pianist must make a request by October 15 for second semester recitals, or by May 31 for first semester and January recitals. All such requests are to be made through email directly to Lori Ronning Folland or John Jensen. Their email addresses are firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com. All requests should include the following information:
Phone Extension #
Performance Date (approximately if date is not set)
Indication if this recital fulfills a degree requirement. If so, which one?
Repertoire to be performed (title and composer)
Staff pianists may also be available to accompany other performances including senior soloists' auditions, continuance and entrance recitals, required student recitals for music majors, level 3 juries, tour soloists' recital, and other performances at the request of applied instructors. Please note that an email request is required in every case.
Requests for the use of a professional pianist must first be approved by the department chair. Ask your performance studies teacher to assist you with this process. A list of approved professional pianists is available in the Music Office. You will normally be responsible for paying professional pianists yourself; however, students presenting performances required by the Department of Music may be eligible for financial assistance on a first come, first served basis.
return to top
There are a number of ways to find soloists if you would like to become involved in accompanying. On the bulletin board outside the music library, you can find names of soloists looking for pianists. You can write your name next to a soloist, then contact him/her to arrange for the performance. Teachers may refer students to pianists. You may also find that if you inform several of your friends that you are interested in accompanying, numerous soloists will approach you.
If you are unable to play for someone who asks you to accompany them, you may want to recommend someone from the list of collaborative pianists to be found in the music office. It is important to be aware of your fellow pianists and their desires to be contacted for accompanying. Please do not suggest a pianist who does not want more accompaniments. Also, try to remember who has played some of the difficult repertoire – if a particularly tricky piece comes up again then be sure to contact the person who has learned it previously.
Please remember that it is easier to add a soloist than to drop
one. Pianists must make sure that they have enough time to practice
more music and meet with another soloist before making a commitment.
return to top
- The pianist must register as a student worker with the music department. Students not on Financial Aid can also receive payment from the Department for accompanying, and students currently on Financial Aid need not count this job as one of their two allowed jobs. In order to register as an authorized student pianist, you must register with Cheryl Bristol in HOM245. She will help you to fill in the appropriate forms.
- The pianist must complete a student pianist payment form for every performance; each form can be used to record up to five performances. The payment form requires signatures from the soloist’s teacher and the pianist’s teacher. The soloist’s teacher also must initial next to the type of performance completed (jury, full recital, etc.). Please note that pianists not currently studying piano or organ are limited to a maximum of five accompaniments per semester.
- The pianist will receive $10 from the Music Department for
each hour listed on his/her time sheet. Timesheets should be filled
out as follows:
- 9 hours ($90) for a full recital.
- 6 hours ($60) for a half recital.
- 2 hours ($20) for each jury/student recital with 2 contact hours.
- 1 hour ($10) for each jury/student recital with 1 contact hour.
- Please note that the soloist’s teacher has the right to refuse to sign the payment form if s/he feels that the pianist was not adequately prepared for the performance.
- Payment forms and timesheets are due in CHM 101 on designated dates at the end of each month. Pianists may turn in the payment forms and time sheets any time after the performance.
- Any fee not covered by and/or exceeding the above recommendations is the sole responsibility of the soloist.
EXTRA PAYMENT FOR EXTRA
Extra time invested in off-campus performance, non-music department performances, and full and half recitals sometimes merits additional payment. You should not feel embarrassed or guilty requesting additional pay. Use your best judgment when deciding on a fee. Pianists should determine additional fees through the following criteria:
- Difficulty of music
- Amount of music
- Length/distance of performance (i.e., an all-day excursion to NATS warrants more than an evening performance in Northfield)
- Seriousness of performance (audition vs. karaoke)
- Practice commitment (time to learn)
- Don’t forget to factor in whether the repertoire you are learning is something which you will play only once in your life, or whether it will be a piece which you can play frequently.
- For the majority of jury performances, the Music Department will pay for two contact hours with the soloist. Extra rehearsals and lessons can be billed at a rate starting at $8 per hour. The soloist is responsible for remunerating the pianist for any extra contact time.
- For off-campus events, a minimum rate of $40 plus expenses is suggested ($45 for NATS).
- For a half recital, an additional charge of $30 is suggested.
- For a full recital, an additional charge of $60 is suggested.
- If music is not given 30 days prior to the performance, the pianist must determine additional pay. If the music is given the day before, the suggested supplemental fee is $30.
Both the soloist and the pianist should sign a contract before embarking on one or more musical endeavors. Each person is then aware of and responsible for his/her role in the soloist-pianist relationship. It would also be wise to list additional charges by event or by piece onto the contract. The following sample contract is available online.
return to top
- Choose immediately not to play the piece and tell the soloist.
- Run through the piece in a practice room and then make a decision. Tell the performer as soon as possible.
- Ask your piano teacher or a member of the piano faculty about whether or not to take the piece. The St. Olaf piano faculty are all seasoned performers and may help you identify trouble spots, give advice on how to practice difficult parts, and/or simplify passages.
- It is NOT your responsibility to find another pianist for the soloist UNLESS you have already agreed to perform the piece. If you have agreed to a piece, and then discover that you cannot perform it, be prepared to promptly find another pianist and arrange for the soloist to contact him/her.
It is very important to decide how many accompaniments you will take on at the beginning of the semester. The number is different for each pianist. When added to regular classes, lessons, extra-curricular activities and practicing, playing for just a few people can get very hectic. Ask your piano professor for suggestions and also plan the amount of time that it will take to work on and perform the pieces.
Most recitals and all juries occur in the second half of the semester, and it may be beneficial to check your class syllabi and ensemble performance calendars before agreeing to too many accompaniments. Start with only a few performances and add more if you feel that you have time.
Pianists must be aware of their soloists’ schedules. They
should plan their schedules while keeping in mind that a soloist
might request extra practices before a performance. To help keep
organized, write down all rehearsal and performance dates.
return to top
It is your responsibility to be prepared for all rehearsals, lessons, studio classes and performances. The following list describes some of the most important parts of a piece that are essential to have a productive rehearsal:
- RHYTHM. A steady pulse is imperative for the ensemble to work. The pianist must keep steady even if it means omitting a few notes at an early rehearsal. Always follow the soloist’s tempo indications and avoid hesitations.
- HARMONY. It is preferable to support a soloist with a clear bass line and correct harmony than to play along with soloist’s melodic lines. Particularly in an orchestral reduction, knowing what to include and what to simplify or omit is an essential element of the art of accompanying.
- CUES/ENTRANCES. Be sure to lead the soloist in clearly at each of his/her entrances. If you hesitate at one of these sections, the soloist’s entrance will likely be uncertain. Be solid in these sections so that the soloist knows what to expect and where/how to come in.
- Piano interludes/solos are not the most important sections. They should be well prepared, but long piano solo sections can often be simplified or cut. Check with a piano faculty member of a staff pianist if you are in doubt about which parts can be omitted.
You should make every effort to learn about the pieces you will be performing. Get to know the historical background of the piece, including familiarity with the composer’s style. For vocal selections, read the text and make sure you understand it. If you need a translation, ask your vocalist to supply one, or check in the reference section of the library. Research the importance and meaning of the piece and think about what you would like to achieve and express in the performance. Taking time to know the pieces will help you interpret them more professionally.
The piano faculty will be happy to help you with harder pieces
or tricky passages in your accompaniment repertoire. Please do not
be afraid to ask, and do not feel that these pieces are less important
or less musical than your solo pieces.
return to top
The pianist’s responsibilities include:
- Promptly contacting the soloist to accept or reject the piece.
- Setting up practice times.
- Being at practice sessions on time and prepared.
- Discussing interpretive ideas about the piece with the soloist.
- Coaching the soloist through difficult sections in the repertoire.
- Letting the soloist know if there are any parts that s/he is not performing accurately.
The soloist’s responsibilities include:
- Supplying the music to the pianist at least 30 days before the first performance date.
- Supplying a translation to the pianist (for vocal selections in foreign languages)
- Setting up practice times.
- Informing the pianist of all jury and/or performance times.
- Being at practice sessions on time and prepared.
- Paying the pianist for extra work.
- Informing the pianist about details of your interpretation in order to help the pianist portray it more clearly.
- Letting the pianist know if there are any parts that s/he is not playing accurately.
As a team, you should work on the following during rehearsal sessions:
- Establish tempos, fluctuations in tempo, breath spots, style, and dynamics.
- Listen to both parts to understand how they fit together. Be vigilant for mistakes or confusing areas in the piece. The earlier you catch errors, the easier it is to fix them.
- Be proactive in asking questions such as, “Is there anything I should know about how you perform this piece?” and “Is there anything you would like to go back and work?”
- Feel free to discuss any musical ideas that you have with the other performer, while listening carefully to anything s/he has to tell you.
- Be open to trying new musical ideas, while staying true to the composer’s original intent.
- Main level practice rooms (CHM)
- Second level practice rooms (CHM)
- Basement level practice rooms (CHM)
- Keyboard lab (CHM 222)
- Classrooms (i.e., CHM 224, 232)
- Old Science Center (OS116-126, OS157)
- Lower level practice rooms in Ytterboe
- Residence hall practice rooms
- Teacher’s studio (with permission)
- Warm-up (scales, chords, anything to get the fingers moving).
- Break up longer passages when playing them over and over.
- If something hurts, stop RIGHT AWAY. Relax, ice it, and wait for it to feel better. If it does not improve, see a doctor or nurse. Playing through an injury is the worst thing you can do.
- Practice regularly. It is not good to squeeze in 5-hour practice sessions right before juries.
You can ask most piano teachers for good stretches and warm-ups
to do. Remember, pianists are irreplaceable! If you get hurt, it
can be challenging to find a substitute who knows the intricacies
of a soloist’s pieces.
return to top
Learning how to collaborate with a soloist can provide you with some of the most rewarding experiences of your life. There is ample opportunity here at St. Olaf for pianists to explore the wonderful art of accompanying. Through performing with others, you will learn how to really LISTEN to the detailed expressive nuances of another person’s performance while still focusing your attention on your own part. If you ever feel you need help to deal with anything to do with accompanying, please turn to the Accompanist Coalition. You can contact us by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. This organization was founded to assist in the soloist-pianist relationship and to give St. Olaf music students a resource for accompanying issues.