If you want to become a good sight-reader, why not do some accompanying? As you’ll see in this article, accompanying offers many benefits, and having greater sight-reading skills is definitely one of them.
Are you looking for a fun and fast way to improve sight-reading?
Then consider accompanying.
In this article, I’ll go over the many benefits of accompanying and show you why accompanying is the fastest way to improve sight-reading.
Learn ensemble skills
When playing with others, you learn the art of collaborating. You learn to agree on interpretation so that you achieve a coherent performance. You learn to play in time and listen to each other and you learn to breathe together. You learn to communicate through gestures and eye contact.
Learn to keep going
When accompanying, you have no choice but to keep going. No one is going to wait for you. In fact, in most cases, the other players are relying on you to keep the pulse going so you have to be on your toes. Nothing like a bit of pressure!
Learn to improvise
A performer might accidentally miss or add a beat somewhere or slow down or speed up. You never really know what’s going to come up so you have to keep listening to them attentively and be ready to adjust so that you don’t get out of sync. In many cases, you’ll need to improvise something, anything to keep the beat going because the first thing to fall apart is the rhythm.
Learn about other instruments
As an accompanist, you get to play with all types of instruments as well as singers and choirs so you get to learn about other instruments and other ways of expressing music. You also get to hear sounds that you normally wouldn’t hear when playing the piano on your own. It’s almost like attending a private concert except that you’re on centre stage with the performers so you can’t really sit back and relax!
One of the most rewarding aspects of accompanying is the fun you experience doing it! As pianists, we are used to playing and practising on our own which can sometimes feel lonely so being able to play with others is a real privilege. Something magical happens when two or more people play, listen, breathe and move together. There’s nothing quite like it!
Discover new repertoire
When accompanying, you get to hear and learn repertoire you’ve likely not heard before. And there are some beautiful works out there!
Develop your musicianship
As an accompanist, you have to have a good understanding of music. This means knowing whether your part is supporting the main melody, whether you have to bring out the main melody or whether you have a counter melody. You have to be like a conductor and bring out the different elements at the right times.
Learn pieces quickly
The byproduct of accompanying is that you develop your sight-reading skills and learn pieces faster as a result. Accompanists are often asked to play at the last minute so you have to learn to practise effectively in the short amount of time that you have. The better your sight-reading skills, the faster you can learn your parts.
In short, accompanying helps to develop your sight-reading skills and your sight-reading helps your accompanying skills!
Over to you
Do you sometimes accompany? Or perhaps it’s something you’re considering doing? I would love to hear about your experience.
READ MORE >> Piano Accompaniment: Behind the Scenes