All of us have received last-minute phone calls from people who sound absolutely desperate. We need you! The earth will stop turning if you don’t play!
So you drop everything, cancel appointments and dinner/movie arrangements, get ahold of the music somehow (usually by calling every other accompanist you know ~ the call came so late, the library and all the stores are closed), and meet at a traffic median 1/2 way between your apartments. You stay up late to look at the music (away from the piano ~ it’s too late to practice).
The next day you practice up until the last minute, all the while wondering whether the music you’re ignoring will be OK tomorrow, your friendships will be intact, and hoping your canceled appointments won’t result in added fees.
And then you play whatever it is ~ rehearsal, audition, master class ~ hopefully not a performance! Afterwards, you may have to wait for a check or do laps around the building looking for the person who hired you.
And then you go home.
That’s sometimes the reality of being an accompanist. That’s why I prefer a variety of playing situations ~ accompanying, chamber music, and solo recitals.
Sometimes I feel like a…
- Emergency room doctor
- Clean-up crew
What makes it fun
- Advance notice ~ not the night before!
- Having the music in plenty of time. (No, accompanying is not sight-reading at all times. That should be the exception.)
- Working with people who learn their parts. (Just sitting there plunking out notes for people is not why I was hired.)
- Participating in the forward movement of the project. (Cleaning up someone else’s mess ~ again, not why I was hired.)
- Being respected as a musician, not a robot who bangs out notes on cue or someone who shows up for emergencies to fix the mess.