Accompanist is the word used to describe an individual who supports a singer, choir or instrumentalist, by playing a subsidiary part otherwise known as musical accompaniment. This does not mean that they are necessarily in the background or that they are not as important as the singer!
There are many types of accompanist, which include musicians and teachers to backing vocalists. A singing teacher who plays the piano for their pupil whilst they are vocalising is providing ‘accompaniment’ just as a band or full orchestra do when they and a singer perform a song.
Any instrument can be used to accompany the voice – including other voices. The most usual combinations are piano and voice, guitar and voice, organ and voice (choral), but other combinations like violin and voice, saxophone and voice or percussion and voice can be equally successful.
A singer can hire an accompanist for an individual performance or series of shows if no other accompaniment is available, which is why the accompanist needs to be a bit of a juggler! As well as sight-reading the music, they have to listen to the singer’s intonation and phrasing in order to adapt their playing to each singer’s unique style of performing.
The most rewarding associations with an accompanist comes when they and the singer have time to build up a rapport. Working together on an arrangement by rehearsing and discussing ideas allows both parties to produce a well thought out and exciting program of music. This is why some singing teachers also provide accompanist services for pupils during examinations and auditions, who better to perform with than someone who is already aware of your strengths & foibles!
Finding an accompanist
We have provided a few links to accompanists with sites available on the internet plus sites providing listings for your convenience, but there are several options you can try listed below.
- Ask your singing teacher for their recommendations.
- Read or place classified ads in trade newspapers and websites
- Look in the Yellow Pages or other Business Directory.
- Visit local music shops and check out their noticeboard.
- Browse musicians wanted/available and music teachers listings sites.
- Search on the internet by inputting the keyword ‘accompanist’ in any search engine.