Financial: Accompanist fees
Many thanks to all who responded. The results are below with a copy of the
original posting. Since we're dealing with salary matters, I've edited some
of the responses to preserve anonymity, by not including choir names, or
specific locations. However, since geographic location can make a
difference, I've included general geographic areas where specific locations
were given. Some responses also included suggestions to check out the the
websites of specific organizations - like the AGO (American Guild of
Organists), or Chorus America.
I appreciate all your input; I feel as if I have some good, solid
information to present to the board.
I'd like to draw on your wisdom and experience regarding accompanist fees.
The board of a choir I'm currently involved with is wrestling with the idea
of raising the salary of the accompanist. This is due, in large part, to my
pointing out that it seemed very low. They are asking me what I think is
fair remuneration, and I'd like to be able to give them an idea of "what's
out there" regarding salary.
I remember a compilation within the past year of "what makes a good
accompanist", but I don't remember anything regarding salary attached with
Realizing there are a lot of variables, I'll give some stats about the
-Approx. 65 voices
-Full range of music - both a cappella and accompanied, early to
-While none of the members are paid to sing in the choir, about 25% of the
members are professional school/church musicians, so it is fairly high
-Rehearsals are two hours weekly (September through early June)
-Typically 3 concerts per year
-Location - East coast (NJ)
Thanks for any input. I'll post a compilation if there are enough responses.
I'm the one who put together the choral accompanist compilation some time
Yes, compensation was NOT mentioned. However, I'd like to suggest a minimum
This figure comes from many years of experience dealing with groups that
take piano accompanists for granted.
As with everything in life, the law of supply and demand usually
determines the fee for accompanists.
If your accompanist is halfway competent, consider yourself fortunate if
they play for less than $30/hour.
Hi there. Thought I'd respond to your query since I am an accompanist. I
work with The Choral Society of [Southeast]. We are a volunteer, auditioned
chorus with a four concert season, usually a combination of
choral-orchestral works and a capella or organ/piano accompanied works. We
rehearse on Mondays from 7-9:30 pm, mid-August through April. This season
we are performing the Verdi Requiem, Handel's Messiah, the Durufle Requiem,
and the Beethoven Mass in C and Choral Fantasy. I am paid $20.00 per hour
of rehearsal (i.e. $50.00 per week). If I am the keyboardist in either the
orchestra or as the piano soloist (as I am for the Choral Fantasy), then my
fee is negotiated accordingly. For my private coaching sessions, I charge
$25.00 per hour, which is about the going rate here. I don't complain about
the $20.00 per hour, but more is always appreciated. I am required to read
open score as well as orchestral reductions as accompaniments, and I also
occasionally run sectionals as I am also a singer. I hope this information
helps you in your search.
Your choir sounds similar to mine. We pay our accompanist $60 per rehearsal.
She also usually plays the organ as part of the orchestra, when required.
She's paid as a free-lance musician and issued a IRS 1099 at the end of each
year. We are in our sixth year - the starting pay was $50/rehearsal. Hope
You might find out what professional-level piano teachers and vocal coaches
receive for their work. In San Francisco, such people are asking anywhere
from $35 to $70 per hour, with some sought after coaches and teachers
commanding even higher fees. Of course, San Francisco may be more
expensive than most parts of the country except New York City.
As an occasional accompanist myself, I would consider $25 to $35 per hour to
be reasonable for the work required. You can calculate the yearly salary
We pay union scale, which was $50 per rehearsal in [Southeast] when we
started some years ago, and is higher now--maybe $60?
Also, because my accompanist is so great, my board has done things like give
her a surprise bonus.
Since our total annual budget is only about $15,000, and we run from late
August through May, this is a chunk of our budget. We see this as a matter
of values, as well as value.
I direct a similar group called ... in the [Midwest].
We usually pay an accompanist about $30 per
rehearsal and $35 per performance. I have not had any complaints about this
scale but would really like to see how this compares to the information you
are receiving. We also have members within our group who play well enough
to accompany some of the easier things so I don't necessarily have the
accompanist attend every rehearsal. We plan our schedule out prior to the
start of the season so they can see my expectations and adjust their
My experience here in [Mid-Atlantic] is that for each rehearsal $150. If
there is a keyboard part included in the performance (organ, harpsichord,
piano, celeste) the orchestra and dress rehearsals and the performance are
paid at union scale. I rarely accept anything under $150 for such a
rehearsal. If you have to step in at the last minute to sight read a
rehearsal the figure doubles automatically!
I sing in and serve on the Board of a community choir which sound very
similar to yours, except we have only a few people who are professional
musicians in real life. Most everyone in the choir can read music to one
degree or another, but there is a fair amount of playing of parts,
especially as we begin to rehearse music for the next concert. We thus need
to have an accompanist who can play fluently from open score.
We pay the accompanist an hourly wage for rehearsals and for concerts in
which she participates (typically one concert is with orchestra).
Last year we raised her wage from $15.00/hr to $20.00/hr. Last month at the
Board's annual figure-out-the-budget meeting, we raised it a little again,
to $22.00/hr for the season which begins in two weeks.
We're in [Midwest], where prices are no doubt lower for most
things compared to New Jersey.
Our main community children's choir accompanist gets a flat $3,300 for the
year. It works out to about $25-30 per hour, depending on how you count. The
accompanists for our younger choirs get $30 per rehearsal, or approx. $24
Our Community Choir accompanist gets whatever the ensemble can afford to
give him at the end of a season. It is usually about $1,000. Sometimes
more sometimes less. We are fortunate to have him because he does it out of
love for the art.
We pay our accompanist $50/rehearsal. (2 1/2 hour rehearsal)
We pay our accompanist $30 per hour, min. 2.5 hour call.
We pay our accompanist $25.00 per hour. Pretty much the same specs as you
described: 2 hours rehearsal per week and 2 concerts per year.
It will depend as to where in the USA you live. But I am an accompanist in
the state of Oregon- I get paid $50.00 for two hours each week. (this is
NOT a church group).
The variables are a lot like yours, only I'm paid Sept. thru July.
This price, also includes making master rehearsal tapes (obviously 4 master
tapes, one for each voicing) for the group in the summer, so they can have
their songs on cassette by Sept. Someone else in the group sings in the
words, and someone else in the group, runs many copies-so the group can
learn their songs during the week in the car, or at home etc.
I also conduct a community chorale ...at our last board meeting I mentioned
that the accompanist salary was too low ($30.00/rehearsal), so we increased
it to $50.00 per rehearsal which in my opinion is still too low for a 2.5
hour rehearsal. However, 50 is a far cry from 30. I would also mention to
your board during these sessions that this is a form of our "lively-hood"
and that we (including the accompanists) have spent many hours and
thousands of dollars in attaining the professional level that we have.
I direct a small community chorus (all volunteers)in the [Northeast] area.
We do two programs a year (with repeat performances) and rehearse 21/4
hours/week from Sept. - May. We pay $50/rehearsal and $100/performance.
I conduct a community chorus with similar features as yours (although our
season ends in the beginning of May). We pay our accompanist $2,000.
We pay grad students in piano $25/hour.
We pay $55 per rehearsal.
Thank you one and all!
Christopher J. Hatcher
Eric's e-mail served as a reminder to me that I'd let summer distract me from
posting a compilation of answers to a similar question. So, after much delay,
here it is.
My Original Post:
I'm writing to inquire about the going rate for hiring an accompanist and the
different ways that directors handle this. I teach at a small boarding school,
and whlie we can't afford a full-time accompanist, we're considering the
possibility for next year of hiring someone to come in for performances and a
few rehearsals prior to the performance. We have a few universities within a
half hour of here and we are looking at hiring a professional accompanist, a
graduate student, or even possibily an undergraduate. Really, we're not sure
what the best solution for our needs would be, but I knew that the collected
experience of choralist could probably help me see the possibilities. I'm
interested in finding out how well various solutions have worked out and how
much we would need to plan to budget for whichever solution we would
ultimately go with. Any help you can offer will be greatly appreciated.
For what it's worth, there's a ChoralNet resource on this topic:
choralnet.org > Rehearsal > Choir Management > Accompanist fees
We pay our accompanist $15.00/hour up to a maximum of 20 hours per month. We
usually use to entire 20 hours, but I can carry it over to/from another month
if we don't. The rate includes rehearsals, performances, and travel time. She
is very competent - and sings, too. Previously, we paid $25.00/hour for
performances and rehearsals with one or possibly two rehearsals. She is happy
with the $300.00 or so on the side per month.
i have been the accompanist for both a public and private school as well as
hiring one for my choral group.
going rate here for the choral group is $150 for performance, $75 for
i charged the equivalent that i would loose in lessons....$50 an hour (since
that included travel time and expenses too) but no rehearsal into the
performance. i didn't have the time and was a last minute fill in for both of
the concerts i did.
I hire an accompanist to come in for one or two rehearsals prior to each
concert. I pay her $125/concert and usually use her 4-5 times per year. I
also play, so I don't need to use her in every concert situation.
I am blessed with an accompanist, however, we do hire others on occasion
(musical theater, solo & ensemble, middle school choral performances)... Pay
on an hourly rate in the range of 8 to 25 per hour depending on the time frame
and number of hours, days of service required etc. Remember also that rural
Indiana may be different from your socio-economic situation.
It depends on the size of your town - it depends on how convenient the school
schedule is for the accompanist - (are they to drop in on a class that are
next to each other "timewise" - or would one have to go and to & from the
school an hr in the am and then an hr. in the pm.?)
I am an accompanist - I start charging for rehearsal at $15.00 and up an hour.
Anywhere from $100.00 and up for concert or performance. If you think this
price sounds high - I want you to know that I am busy all the time - and I'm
not in a large city.
I've been through the accompanist "wars" myself with a community chorus over
the past year.
I used 2 strategies. First, I looked for and found community folks and paid
them $25 per rehearsal (2 hours) and $100 per concert. The rehearsal rate was
on the low side, but I wanted to use an accompanist at EVERY rehearsal -- not
just a few before a performance. You'll probably have better luck with a piano
student from the nearby college , since both of my accompanists (both gone now
and I'm doing it) were predominantly (a) a church organist who could only play
LOUD and (b) a long-ago would be piano soloist "gone to seed." My second
strategy was to hire a local band (my chorus sin gs American Popular Song, so
I hired a piano/bass/drums trio that was an already formed jazz group all of
whom (supposedly) read music. I ended up using the bassist and drummer,
though' NOT the pianist, who came to the first of two rehearsals before the
concert without having learned the notes.&nb sp; Disaster! I ended up paying
him anyway (he came to the 2nd rehearsal and concert to listen and invest in
being hired in the future.) You HAVE to have better luck than I did since it
sounds l like you live in a community with far better resources than I have
I wish I could say I was writing with some information about your question.
Unfortunately, I share your predicament. At the community college where I
teach, funding is available to pay an accompanist to be present at rehearsals
and performances at the rate of an instructional assistant (roughly $13/hour).
Needless to say, this is hardly adequate to attract any of the competent,
qualified pianists in the area who are in demand as studio accompanists and
I have recently learned of another college in my state that provided a $5000
stipend per year in addition to the instructional assistant pay. At this time
I have only this indicator to help me plan my future budget, but it's a start.
I am expecting to work with the student activities arm of the choral
organization (the choral "club") to see if we can make plans to generate this
funding for future years (not 2003-2004).
My accompanist receives $10 per rehearsal (35 mins / day). It probablyshould
be higher, but she's a "mom" and has a "volunteer" attitude aboutthings.
>===== Original Message From estark(a)butler.edu ====>Hello friends,
>I'm looking to find average pay rates for an accompanist for a university
>level choir. Do you pay a flat hourly rate? How much? Are performances paid
>at a different rate?
>Many thanks, as always, for your input!
>Eric Stark, DM
>Associate Professor of Music, Butler University
>Artistic Director, Indianapolis Symphonic Choir