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#405497 - 12/05/07 07:48 AM Aargh accompanying
JohnEB Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/20/06
Posts: 754
Loc: Belgium
Usually I love accompanying but this week I'm tearing my hair out. I'd been rehearsing with my normal mezzo-soprano for a concert this Friday. originally we'd planned 3 Mahler lieder, then at her request we replace 2 lieder with a cabaret song by Britten. Now, 3 days before the concert, she's asking to drop the last Mahler and asked if I can 'busk a Gershwin number or one of the Bolcom cabaret songs?'

Now I count myself a decent sightreader, and I do think that the mezzo and I perform well together, but this is a bit much. We'll see how it goes tonight. We have a very limited time to perform and were asked to do something lively - the other items we currently have in repertoire are too long, not lively enough, or don't really stand well on their own. I'm sure we'll work something out.

Sorry - just venting.
_________________________
John

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#405498 - 12/05/07 10:24 AM Re: Aargh accompanying
apple* Offline


Registered: 01/01/03
Posts: 19862
Loc: Kansas
and vent you should.

i hate changes of plans
_________________________
accompanist/organist.. a non-MTNA teacher to a few

love and peace, ├Ľun (apple in Estonian)

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#405499 - 12/05/07 11:34 AM Re: Aargh accompanying
BruceD Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 18221
Loc: Victoria, BC
I would do more than vent! This is inconsiderate, to say the least. I think your singer shows a lack of professionalism in not appropriately planning her numbers in the first place. To make changes at the last minute, to expect you to conform, to adequately support her, and to be able to show off your skills as an accompanist under these conditions seems to me very selfish.

Yes, an accompanist, almost by definition, has to be able to adapt at times, but in this particular circumstance the singer is thinking only of herself, which is certainly not in the spirit of collaboration in which a singer and accompanist should work.

Sheesh!

Regards,
_________________________
BruceD
- - - - -
Estonia 190

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#405500 - 12/05/07 12:58 PM Re: Aargh accompanying
currawong Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/15/07
Posts: 5958
Loc: Down Under
 Quote:
Originally posted by JohnEB:
or one of the Bolcom cabaret songs?'[/b]
(depending on which one - I've done Amor, and it's not a song I would ever consider performing without a considerable rehearsal time, both for the piano part itself and for the ensemble)

Apart from the pain of having to ditch three Mahler songs (which would be considerable), this sort of thing is what gets some singers a bad name with accompanists. Just because you can do this, as a good sightreader and experienced accompanist, doesn't mean you should have to. I'd have no hesitation in putting my foot down, if the rehearsal shows it's necessary.

What about raising your fee? \:\)
_________________________
Du holde Kunst...

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#405501 - 12/05/07 01:16 PM Re: Aargh accompanying
BruceD Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 18221
Loc: Victoria, BC
 Quote:
Originally posted by currawong:
[...]this sort of thing is what gets some singers a bad name with accompanists. Just because you can do this, as a good sightreader and experienced accompanist, doesn't mean you should have to. [...] [/b]
I was thinking of saying the same thing, but would want to emphasize that it's only some[/b] singers who do this. In this respect, good accompanists may be their own worst enemies in a somewhat convaluted sense: some[/b] singers who get attached to (fairly) good accompanists but who don't know what accompanying really involves think: "My accompanist can play anything; it doesn't matter what I put in front of him/her." So the thinking may be that, since my accompanist can play anything, it shouldn't matter if/when I change a planned programme.

Yes, it's a weak defense of some not-intentionally thoughtless singers, but it happened to me on a couple of occasions in my role as an accompanist and, while terribly frustrated, I did understand what the singer may have been thinking.

Regards,
_________________________
BruceD
- - - - -
Estonia 190

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#405502 - 12/05/07 01:33 PM Re: Aargh accompanying
tomasino Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/24/05
Posts: 2039
Loc: Minneapolis, Minnesota
Your singer has in mind the idea that you can do it, and that's why she feels she can push you to the edge. Sounds to me, judging on the tone of your writing, that you know you can do it too. It just makes you tear your hair out.

Assuming this isn't some kind of friendly quid pro quo arrrangement, and there's an exchange of money between you, I wonder what your arrangement is.

Are you charging a flat fee? If so, you're in trouble? Your arrangement does not take into account how much time you'll spend. It's ambiguous. Your singer is depending on your sense of professionalism to do a good job.

Are you charging a fee for the performance, plus an hourly rate for rehearsal time and the time it takes you to learn the repertoire? If so, you should have no problem. You'll make more money.

But it doesn't sound like you have this kind of arrangement, because if you did, your singer would have been much more careful in drawing up her program to begin with.

Tomasino
_________________________
"Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do so with all thy might." Ecclesiastes 9:10


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#405503 - 12/05/07 01:45 PM Re: Aargh accompanying
argerichfan Offline
8000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/15/06
Posts: 8925
Loc: Pacific Northwest, US.
This kind of rubbish is part and parcel of what church musicians endure on a distressingly frequent basis.

However[/b]...

JohnEB has to play professionally at a formal concert, church organists can flail, flop and otherwise fake their way through most nasty surprises. Not that I would do that...
_________________________
Jason

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#405504 - 12/05/07 02:33 PM Re: Aargh accompanying
Morodiene Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 12137
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
Tomasino and BruceD hit it right on the head. If you are going to do this, if you feel you can, then ask for more money. You can do this by telling her that it will require much more rehearsal time (and if you are smart, you charge by the rehearsal & performance).

Also, since she's so "flexible", I would pick a song for her to sing that you already know how to play. See what she thinks of that :p

edited to add: You don't know anything by Corigliano, by any chance? haha!
_________________________
private piano/voice teacher - full time
MTNA member
www.valeoconservatory.com
Petrof 9'2 Concert, Yamaha G3, Roland FP-7, Yamaha MOX6, Kawai MP11

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#405505 - 12/05/07 03:21 PM Re: Aargh accompanying
Betty Patnude Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/11/07
Posts: 4896
Loc: Puyallup, Washington
Precisely in agreement with the idea that you charge for all songs undertaken for her to consider/select. So you are counting the ones not being played in the Friday program, and you are counting the extra time you 'might' have to spend in more rehearsal for your part - whether you actually get to practice or not - how many hours does this piece for the average accompanist charge for preparing the piece? Just count the number of page turns alone - the expectation that we "should be able to do everything asked of us easily" is worth big bucks....and it should be....it takes over your life until the performance.

She is just getting lots of attention to meet her needs, and you provide the rehearsal hall time, and probably invest more time and effort into it without being paid for it all.

Up, up, up with your % of the take and put it in writing before starting - guarantee fees whether the performance goes on or not. She is getting exclusive service from you as though you were under contract to her alone.

I know, friends, and associates, etc. Being a nice, accomodating guy. Set your limits and circumstances with whom and under what conditions you want to work. And, set the price that pays for your best lifestyle and all the $ already invested in your music education to date!

Betty

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#405506 - 12/05/07 03:36 PM Re: Aargh accompanying
currawong Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/15/07
Posts: 5958
Loc: Down Under
 Quote:
Originally posted by BruceD:
In this respect, good accompanists may be their own worst enemies in a somewhat convaluted sense: some[/b] singers who get attached to (fairly) good accompanists but who don't know what accompanying really involves think: "My accompanist can play anything; it doesn't matter what I put in front of him/her." So the thinking may be that, since my accompanist can play anything, it shouldn't matter if/when I change a planned programme. [/b]
This I think is very true, Bruce. And we become our own worst enemies further when we accept the situation because we don't want to admit that we find something difficult. Result - performance we may not be entirely happy with, and fear that our reputation has been damaged. My edgiest moment this year was having to perform the Poulenc clarinet sonata when the clarinettist only supplied the music 5 days before the concert. I was very close to cancelling.
_________________________
Du holde Kunst...

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#405507 - 12/05/07 05:05 PM Re: Aargh accompanying
JohnEB Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/20/06
Posts: 754
Loc: Belgium
Thanks for your views all - very interesting to see different takes on this situation.

I don't charge the mezzo for accompanying her - we have a give and take relatoinship in that she pays for the recording sessions we've done, and we split the fees from any paid concerts we do. I get introductions through her to other musicians (e.g. got invited to conduct a choir through performing with her) and given that I'm doing this very much as an amateur, that suits me fine.

This Friday the concert is a charity concert so we are waiving fees anyway. I think part of the problem is that we've now got to the stage where we actually have to plan ahead quite carefully, due to the amount of work that's starting to come in, and she's not used to that. I suspect we're not communicating very well either - I take the lead on musical questions, and I think she's afraid to say no to my suggestions (that could sound bad, but we're talking musical suggestions here).

I think those people who said she's assuming I can play anything are right - she admitted at rehearsal tonight that she'd underestimated completely the effort on my side. That's flattering, but adds to the frustration. ANd sadly it's not true - I can't even sightread the Gershwin songs to performance standard so I'll end up working on them tomorrow (Nice Work if you can get it and Let's call the whole thing off - I always thought that was Cole Porter).

So we're doing this concert, it'll be fine, but I'll have to do a lot tomorrow. And then we have to have a serious talk about the much bigger concert we're doing next year when we're doing the entire programme - no way can we go into rehearsals for that when we have this communication problem!

Thanks again for all the comments.
_________________________
John

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#405508 - 12/05/07 05:37 PM Re: Aargh accompanying
Betty Patnude Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/11/07
Posts: 4896
Loc: Puyallup, Washington
Good luck to John and his "mezzo"!

:2hearts:

May you make beautiful music together!

Betty

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#405509 - 12/05/07 06:31 PM Re: Aargh accompanying
whippen boy Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/02/05
Posts: 3886
Loc: San Francisco
I see you are playing "Let's call the whole thing off". \:D
_________________________
Grotrian 225
S&S Hamburg-C
M&H "A" at home

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#405510 - 12/06/07 02:36 AM Re: Aargh accompanying
JohnEB Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/20/06
Posts: 754
Loc: Belgium
 Quote:
Originally posted by whippen boy:
I see you are playing "Let's call the whole thing off". \:D [/b]
Good catch!
_________________________
John

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