How to Play Accompaniment on the Keyboard

Playing accompaniment on the keyboard is a skill that requires the keyboardist to carefully listen to the soloist. Keyboardists often have to play with several different types of soloists from singers to instrumentalists. Each individual will have a different style of playing and the keyboardist must be capable of adapting to the style, tempo and interpretation of the soloist. Remembering that the role of the keyboardist is to be supplemental to the performer will greatly improve your ability to play accompaniments. Keyboards include any instrument that uses a keyboard to create sound, including the piano, organ, harpsichord and digital keyboard.

Step 1 Follow the lead of the soloist when interpreting rhythm and tempo. If she wants to increase the speed, it is your job to follow her. Work with the soloist ahead of time to nail down a precise tempo. Usually the accompanist will start the piece, so it is imperative that you get the opening tempo correct.

Step 2 Do not overpower the soloist's playing. When accompanying a woodwind player you will have to lower the lid of the piano to diminish the sound. Brass players will need the lid raised completely and vocalists will need the lid somewhere in the middle.

Step 3 Practice the accompaniment until you can play it perfectly from memory. This will help support the soloist and ensure that you are providing the best possible accompaniment.

Step 4 Listen carefully to how the soloist plays, interpret rhythms and articulates notes. As the keyboardist you should be able to match his style.

If the soloist makes a mistake, misses a bar, or comes in early you must adjust and catch up with him. This is the most difficult part of being an accompanist. It is expected that you find the soloist in the music, the soloist will not adjust to you. The piano is not capable of tuning itself during a performance. Have it tuned professionally tuned before the concert.


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