Accompanying someone in his performance is similar to giving the background music for any track. Much of the task of making up the song is already done by the accompanists and your job is to support the performance with your instrument that could be a harmonica, guitar, violin, piano, keyboard or any other instrument. The art of supporting music to a solo performer is a tough one no matter which instrument you are playing and thus you would need to do regular and consistent practice. Training is an essential part of learning to accompany a performer.
Here are some steps that would guide you well.
Step 1: Begin with Taking Lessons of Music:
If you want to train yourself to be an accompanist, you need to have a basic knowledge of theory of music and a complete know-how of the instrument that you will be supporting with. The solo performer will have an expectation that you will have knowledge of music and that you will be able to make some modifications to music with the use of varied tools. For those who are not too sure of their musical knowledge, they may consider taking basic classes of music that many of the community colleges offer. These classes are designed to give you understanding of musical theory.
Step 2: Know that Your Job is only to Accompany:
When you accompany a solo performer, you should remember that you will not be in spotlight but rather you will be supporting to draw attention to soloist. It means that you will not be improvising with other musical bits but you just need to be an expert with your musical sheet. All the ornaments and further modification of music will be taken care of by the solo performer.
Step 3: Understand the Musical Piece:
Your objective should be to understand the musical piece thoroughly and you should be able to play it with complete accuracy. If you make any mistake by losing track of the song or are not aware of any changes made with the piece, you may become the culprit behind soloist losing the track. A mistake from your end may make soloist unable to follow you. A strong base or background of music is important when you are accompanying a solo performer. So before you actually perform with a soloist, you should make sure that you are able to play your piece with complete fluency, beginning with varied parts and with accuracy always.
Step 4: Modify the Score if needed:
An ideal piece may not be necessarily written for accompaniment and thus you may find the need to tone down or modify your parts in order to bring your soloist in to spotlight. You may alter the score and you don’t really need to imitate. So in order to lay a base that is breathable for your soloist and may not overshadow him, you may cut back or make changes in your score.
Step 5: Be Clear in Communication:
All the musicians or performers would not be same and each one of them would have different preferences and expectations. Same goes for soloists. When you accompany a musician, you are actually giving him a base for his music and thus you should know how they need the job to be done. Your soloist may prefer some parts to be played in softer version whereas some may be played with high notes. Whatever expectations they have, it could only be understood if you carry a strong and clear communication.
Step 6: Follow the Solo Musician:
Soloists are the ones who would be making changes in tempo, would add expression and would improvise musical technique and the one who accompanies would need to understand style and technique that soloist adopts to play before beginning to play for them.
Step 7: Practice and Practice More:
In order to have thorough understanding of music, for working out details of a song and for finding out expectations of your soloists; it is important to practice as much as possible. The more you will rehearse, the better you will get at your performance and the better base you will be able to lay for your soloist.
- Communicate with your soloist in order to make out correct method related to the use of volume, tempo and sense of music that he wants. You should not criticize him. Always take his comments positively. Discuss details and reach a point of agreement for quick progress.
- When accompanying a soloist, go for simplification. You will not be in the limelight and thus you don’t need to capture most of the musical scene.
- You can reduce music if needed.
- You should have a clear understanding of chords and it will help you in making necessary changes to music without overpowering performance of soloist.
- Sticking to chord notes would restrict you from conflicting with the soloist.
- You must take criticism positively and should not feel offended even if the soloist is getting angry.
- When accompanying a performer, you should make sure that you should not be playing too fast or too slow. Your performance would directly affect soloist performance and it may annoy him.