How many of you have auditioned for musicals and simply plopped your shredded and curled up
loose sheets of music on the piano, barely noticing who was sitting on the bench ready to partner
up with you for a hopefully successful audition? Did you even remember to make the edits you wanted clear
to her or give her the tempo you planned on? If you answered no to even one of these questions
you do not deserve to be hired for the job you are auditioning for. And what many self absorbed
performers don’t realize is that the accompanist is often part of the casting and production team
making the hiring decisions!
If I’ve gotten your attention, great! Established pros and veterans in the industry know that the
accompanist can make or break you– whether they are talented virtuosos or can barely find the
keyboard (bad ones are rare in the professional world!). But if you are rude and/or oblivious to your musical
partner’s contribution you most likely will have to reap the results. Now, I know that you are nervous
and full of adrenaline when you walk through the door for that audition. The whole production team
knows that! They want you to do well because it makes their job easier and exciting. Seeing you
do a great job actually can inspire them to wonderful creativity – including the accompanist!
I’ve seen too many singers make a mistake then give a dirty look to the accompanist as if its his
fault. I’ve heard singers complain, “It didn’t sound like what I was used to!” or I really like this one,
“You didn’t transpose it to a better key!” I’m not kidding! Occasionally, if the music is difficult and not a familiar
piece, the accompanist could wobble a bit but why would you bring in something so complicated
in the first place? Bring in a simpler arrangement!
Sorry for the rant but I coach all of my performers to control as much of their auditions as they can.
That includes treating your temporary musical partner with respect and making his or her job as
enjoyable as possible. If you’ve got your partner rooting for you from the get go, he will do
everything in his power to support you and make you look and sound as wonderful as possible!
Please don’t overlook the importance of having your audition book neat and easy to read.
Mark your cuts and dynamic notes clear. Don’t ever make an accompanist be forced to wing it
because you gave her loose sheets that fall off of the piano or don’t indicate how the arrangement
should go. And don’t expect anyone to transpose on sight to a higher or lower key. Bring in the
book written in the key you prefer. You take your chances if you only bring in a “fake book” lead
sheet. You will be forcing your accompanist to improvise which is not a gamble I’d be willing to
take unless I knew or work regularly with that person.
And finally, no matter how well you think they did, PLEASE remember to graciously say “Thank you!,”
and shake their hand. If they helped you land a job, I’d present them with a box of chocolates or
at least a thank you note! Accompanists are the unsung heroes in the business! They deserve