Thanks for checking out my blog!
I feel a little background is important here in order for you to not misunderstand the content that I am writing.
I work at the University of North Georgia as the vocal and choral accompanist, therefore my blog posts are directed specifically towards vocal and choral collaborators.
I am not a voice teacher, but I have worked in many, many voice studios over the last 50 years. This gives me a unique vantage point from which to approach my collaborative work.
At the University, I have worked with the same two teachers for a decade now and know how they teach, things they would try with their students, technics that they try to reinforce and questions they will ask. This is not mind reading, it is merely osmosis from a long-standing, weekly relationship.
I may be in a unique position here, but these two voice teachers actually ask for my input on technic, things I’m seeing or hearing in the lessons, how to solve a particular issue, etc. I know that is not always the case, but for me it is valid because of my long history of working with voice students.
I never usurp the authority of the voice teacher and I definitely defer to their superior knowledge of voice training. However, if a student is not completely understanding what the teacher is saying, I am free to try something different in coaching to see if it clears the problem up. I ALWAYS communicate what we are doing with the teacher so there is never an issue with who is doing what.
So that brings me to the point of my blog. I believe that being a collaborative pianist means more than playing for someone in their lessons and coaching with them one on one during the week to prepare for a recital. I take the full dictionary definition of collaborating: To work together with another toward a common goal, especially in an intellectual endeavor. I believe that my job as an accompanist is to collaborate with the teachers AND the students to reach a common goal…creating a well taught, prepared, whole, professional musician by the time of graduation.
Over the last four years especially, I have begun to develop my own system for working with the students and the teachers. During this same time span, I have noticed a lot of things that have annoyed my two teachers. I have noted issues that the students are starting college with. I have agonized with the teachers about how ill-prepared students are for their lessons. I have tried to work to build body awareness in the students. We have brain stormed better ways to get students to practice. All in all it has been more of a hit and miss thing with both of the teachers and myself trying to understand and remedy the problems.
It wasn’t until this past year that I started to get a glimmer of what might actually work – I would take up the things that are keeping the teachers from being able to do the things that only they can do. I would work on the things that keep the students from being the best musicians that they can possibly be.
Now this puts me in a whole different realm of collaborative work, so if this is not the sort of thing you are interested in, I completely understand. But for me it’s all about moving students through fundamentals, musicianship and artistry, which you will see in many of my writings.
You may wonder to yourself as you read my posts, “ Why in the world is she concerned about that? I don’t have time to do the basics, how can I squeeze all of this in as well?” Once again, I am in a unique position as I am in a smaller university with a very tight knit music department. We ALL care about how the students are doing both in and out of class. We ALL spend a lot of one on one time with the students and try to help them become functioning adults as well as outstanding musicians. So for me, spending as much time as I need to spend with the students is of the utmost importance.
So hopefully you will find a thing or two here that you might be able to apply to your work as well. Just know that much of what I am blogging about is in its infancy as far as seeing how it works in the larger vocal studio. I will amend where necessary and definitely give you a heads up if this is something I am just planning to try, but haven’t gotten any data on as of yet.
Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions or if you would like a further explanation. I hope you enjoy this new perspective, and thanks for reading!