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Classroom Accompanists

Greetings Choral Directors,
   My name is James Pecar and I am the choir director at Chippewa Valley High School in Clinton Township, MI. The choir teachers in our district are gathering some data regarding accompanists in the high school and middle school classrooms. We would like to propose the possibility of our district helping us fund our accompanists. What we need from you is for you to send us a reply to let us know if you have an accompanist (full time/part time/hourly etc. ) and a brief resume of your program—we would like to really show the benefit of having an accompanist in the classroom. We are then asking that you tell us how the accompanist is funded. If you could do this for us, we would greatly appreciate it! We would love as much data as possible as we present our case to the board.
 
  1. Do you have an accompanist? (full time/part time/hourly etc.)
  2. A brief resume of your program:
  3. How is your accompanist funded?
Thank you so much,
The Chippewa Valley Schools Choral Directors
on January 27, 2014 4:57pm
Mr. Pecar - 
 
I do not yet have my own choir, but I have some things I think you should consider:
 
How hard is your piano repertoire? Would a student who has been taking piano lessons be able to play it? If so, why don't you have students accompany the choir? When I was in high school, our choir director asked every student at the beginning of the year what instruments they played. If they played piano, she would give us each one or two pieces to play on the piano along with the choir. We would have about five weeks to learn the music, and then would accompany the choir during the concerts.
 
I know that it's not quite the answer you are looking for, but if this helps, and I hope it does, you could get free accompanists, and save the funding for something else!
 
Good luck finding what you're looking for!
 
 
Applauded by an audience of 1
on January 28, 2014 4:16am
There is a VERY amusing cartoon of Queen Elizabeth II calling the recently-retired Pope a WUSS.   Well, with all rerspect — WUSSES, man-up!   I am now in my 50-something-th year of Choral Conducting during the vast majority of which I «Self-Accompanied» quite willingly, and successfully.  SCHOOLS are NOT professional choirs singing the most advanced and difficult repertoire — nor should they be!   If I might suggest: those of you who are finding your accompanimental skills aren't «cutting it» get yourselves off to a good Piano coach or perhaps rethink your repertoire. 
Alternatively, find (as I have several times over the years) a STUDENT whose piano «chops» can handle almost ANY accompanimental need, and, in the process give that student a HUGE leg-up in his/her musical career!
Applauded by an audience of 1
on January 28, 2014 5:43am
1.  We have an hourly accompanist that is on-call.  Once we've done all the part-learning and are ready to sing with the piano accompaniment, the pianist gets called about 2 weeks before a performance.  But the music is given ahead of time so they can practice.
2.  4 choirs (3 high school; 1 middle school) - 1 advanced SATB ensemble singing repertoire with difficult, challending piano accompaniment
3.   We have a parent booster organization that funds the stipend from its fundraising efforts
 
I'm a piano accompanist myself and have been since the 7th grade.  So, I totally have reality on the first two responses here.  
 
Good luck!
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