Ask the Readers: How to Divide a Staff Accompanist Position Between Vocal and Instrumental Duties?

piano by antony griffiths on Flickr

A reader recently sent in a question for the readership of the blog, which is copied below with identity and location redacted:

Hi there! I am wondering if there is a way to ask a question to you and the collaborative piano community (as it relates to this blog) as a whole. I am a full time “staff accompanist” at a University in ___________, and lately have come under a bit of fire because some of my colleagues have questions about the fact that the vocal students in my department seem to get so much more of my time than the instrumental students. I’m basically trying to gather information from other pianists that do what I do – and see if they do, in fact, give the lion’s share of their time to vocalists. Of course, when I worked as a freelancer, this was the way my clients preferred it, but I’m having trouble convincing my instrumental faculty colleagues of the vocal students inherent need for more time with their pianists in their regular weekly preparation for their lessons etc. So to propose a clear question for the blog, how do other university staff pianists divide up their time between vocal and instrumentalists and how is that time coordinated: by the pianists themselves, by the students, or by the students’ teachers. 

I hope this wasn’t too convoluted! I do look forward to hearing from you and any help you, or any one from the site, could offer would be so appreciated. I have reached out to a few colleagues of mine who do the same type of work at other universities, but a wider pool of opinions is always better.

Clearly this pianist should not have to come under fire personally for a lack of foresight by a music department. How should this person address the situation? Should they take charge and negotiate a clearer division of hours between departments? Or should they ask the department for the leadership they should have provided in the first place and clearly assign the allotment/division of hours for their staff accompanist position?

Your comments are welcome, as always. You’re welcome to comment anonymously on the blog if you would rather not divulge your identity when offering your opinion!

from The Collaborative Piano Blog


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