Piano player accompanist jobs require musicians who have a broad repertoire, are flexible and can work odd hours. It's a rewarding job where pianists combine their talent with the music of singers or other instrumentalists to create a beautiful performance. Piano player accompanists work with local schools, places of worship or community groups.
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Piano accompanists provide the musical support for performing soloists and groups. Creating piano music that complements the sound of the main performer is the primary function of accompanists. You may be required to work with other instrumentalists as you accompany a choir or soloist.
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Piano accompanists may play for vocal and instrumental soloists, choirs, choruses and instrumental ensembles. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, musicians such as pianists work in a variety of settings from bars to churches to theatrical venues. Versatility in playing different kinds of keyboards is an important component of being a good accompanist. While some types of accompanists hammer out raucous tunes on electric keyboards for punk singers, others create sweet melodies on grand pianos for choral singers. Virtually all genres of music incorporate the piano as an accompanying instrument. Some types of accompanists rehearse for weeks or months, but not all pianists have this luxury. In some cases, pianists provide impromptu accompaniment with little or no rehearsal.
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Finding work as a piano player is highly competitive, according to Central Michigan University, which offers training for pianists. Those pianists who get the most jobs as accompanists play with consistent note accuracy and can keep a steady tempo. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, following directions and working well with other musicians are important considerations for aspiring musicians such as piano accompanists. A music director or conductor often collaborates with the pianist to determine the particular style, the appropriate dynamics and the best tempo for the piece of music.
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Some piano accompanists study playing techniques, music theory and musical styles for years at universities or conservatories. Advanced degrees in piano studies are available from a variety of institutions. Other piano accompanists have little or no professional training. Instead, they rely on natural talent to replicate music they hear. In the middle of the spectrum are piano accompanists who have had some specialised training such as private lessons and may be skilled at reading music and providing accompaniment in limited settings.
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One of the many benefits of being a piano accompanist is having nontraditional work hours. You may have free time during the normal work week. However, the trade off is that you may have to work late evenings and weekends. Piano accompanists can choose between jobs that keep them in one location and jobs that involve significant travel. Because piano accompanists possess considerable skill and specialisation, the pay can be quite good. According to the Occupational Employment Statistics from the U.S. government, the mean hourly wage for musicians is just over £18.