Accompanists for Federation

Ashley Desmond said: Feb 21, 2013
Ashley Desmond
Suzuki Association Member
Salt Lake City, UT
3 posts

This is the second year that I have had my students participate in Festival with the Federation of Music Clubs here in Utah. Last year I had all of my students find their own accompanists because they won’t allow teachers to play for their own students. Last year things worked out . . . OK, and most of the accompanists did pretty well, but it was very difficult to schedule practices and it took most of my students WAY too long to find one. They all did it last minute. This year is no different.

I noticed that the other teachers that are listed for Federation all have one accompanist for all of their students. Do any of you do this and how do you make it work? Do you pay the accompanist for practices and performance? Does that come out of your own pocket or do you have all of the students pitch in? Do you just have a SUPER good friend that helps you out for free or do you do a service trade or something? Just wondering how you get one accompanist for all of your students and make it worth the accompanists time too.

Thanks for any ideas.

Jennifer Visick said: Feb 23, 2013
Jennifer VisickForum Moderator
Suzuki Association Member
Viola, Suzuki Early Childhood Education, Suzuki in the Schools, Violin
1072 posts

I’m not in Utah and don’t do Federation of Music Clubs, but I do have my students participate in Suzuki Graduations (Southern California), where they all have to make a recording of a graduation piece with an accompanist. Also, I have friends who do various competitions and what have you which require accompanists. We pay our accompanists. They don’t charge an exorbitant amount.

I would think if you find a good accompanist that you’d want to do everything you said: pay for practices and performances (charge your students extra or make your students pay the accompanist directly). Don’t have someone help you free of charge, even if it is a super good friend, if they are a good accompanist they deserve to be paid, and you want to pay them.

I took a Suzuki teacher training class with Susan Kempter last summer, and she highly recommended finding “the one”—the accompanist who makes your students sound good, who helps them feel confident, who can catch them and get them going again when they have a slip, someone whom you like and who works well with you, the one who can make up accompaniments on the fly (or transpose) by looking at a melody that you hand them, and ask that person what they would charge, then pay them 1 and a half or even double what they ask, because if they can do all of that for your students, it’s worth it. And make your students pay the accompanist directly, or raise your prices and tell your students it is because you are now going to pay for a good accompanist for them for certain events.

Leslie said: Mar 5, 2013
Leslie ThackerayInstitute Director
Suzuki Association Member
Taylorsville, UT
26 posts

Ashley, there are a bunch of accompanists here in Utah…find a good one and call them early. Many teachers do it differently. I have the accompanist come to my house for two or three different rehearsals and the kids come and practice—somewhat like a master class. They all watch and I give them some feedback. This way they practice with the accompanist and practice playing in front of people. Other teachers have a day when the accompanist comes and they sign up for a time. Some teachers have them pay the accompanist themselves. I actually have them pay me and I give the accompanist one big check because she’s doing the accompanying for my solo recital as well and I pay for that—not the students. I know of a great gal in Taylorsville. e-mail me and I’ll give you her info! I don’t think you’re in my region so there wouldn’t be a conflict of times.

Leslie Thackeray
Make Practicing Fun!

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