Accompanist duties

In my ongoing effort to re-post some things from my old website, I offer this list for choral directors and accompanists, adapted from two primary sources, as devised for my community chorus in the early 1990s —


Qualifications and Responsibilities

The successful accompanist will:

1.  Be proficient in furnishing the piano accompaniment when there is a separate piano part.

2.  Have fast reflexes and a feeling for the style and pace of the rehearsal.

3.  Be proficient at reading open score, including only selected parts, and have ease in playing parts even when no piano reduction is provided.

4.  Play parts in octaves when one or two parts are being rehearsed.

5.  Ideally, have the ability to play from an orchestral score or provide a continuo part from open score.

6.  Rehearse both open score and choral accompaniments outside of rehearsal so that mistakes in rehearsal are kept to a minimum.

7.  Learn to anticipate the conductor’s actions and reactions, and also points of return and re-start.

8.  Mark the score at the spots where the conductor has asked for specific assistance or support, where problems occur, or where the accompanist has specific and significant responsibilities.

9.  Be empathetic with the singers by breathing and phrasing with them, even thinking with them as they produce their vowels and consonants, which are their musical instruments.

10.  Be sensitive to nuance and shades of phrasing and pacing.

11.  Be constantly alert to mistakes in the chorus.

12.  Learn to play parts a fraction of a second ahead of the beat in order to help the singers enter with rhythmic accuracy and avoid a late response.

13.  Be capable of improvisation, especially in lighter literature.

14.  Above all, be a fine musician who is capable of contributing a further dimension of artistry and excellence to both rehearsal and performance.

Boyd, Jack.  Rehearsal Guide for the Choral Director.  Champaign, Illinois: Mark Foster Music, 1970.

Decker, Harold A. and Herford, Julius.  Choral Conducting Symposium.  Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Prentice Hall, 1988.

© Jeffrey Carter 2002

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