What is A Piano Accompanist?
and why you need one...
When you watch a performance onstage most of your attention is focused on the soloist. But don’t forget - there is a support act on stage too, listening and interacting with the special feature artist, and making them look as polished and as amazing as possible.This is the role of the accompanist.
If you're a singer or instrumentalist, one day you may play with an accompanist in concerts or recitals, exams, scholarships, HSCs, or auditions for shows or eisteddfods.
My name is Cheryl Oxley and I’m a highly experienced, professional piano accompanist. I’ve been playing piano for so long I can hardly remember a time that I didn’t know how to play. I love working with wonderful singers and musicians of all levels and ages. [more here]
LOOKING FOR A PROFESSIONAL EDGE...??
Baically, people work with me as a COACH to polish their performance and improve results.
I’m a problem solver and a pianist, and give musicians and singers simple solutions to make their performance shine and bring out style, expression, phrasing and articulation, to tell stories in sound and gain a more professional edge.
Students and instrumentalists that I have coached have had overwhelming success [90%+] in scholarship auditions, exams and eisteddfods, as well as tertiary entry, and HSC honours.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR IN A GOOD ACCOMPANIST
So what’s the KEY to finding the perfect accompanist - the one that helps you to walk out onstage and perform with super confidence?
After accompanying for decades I can tell you that TRUST and RELATIONSHIP are right up there...
I’m so grateful to hear from many people I’ve had the privilege to work with, how relaxed, happy and secure they feel onstage with me. They know that I will catch them if things go wrong, and that I am right there to support them and bring out their musical best performance.
“I just wanted to say thank you. Your wonderful personality and disposition is always a pleasure to be around. Thank you for your playing as well - it is lovely to be able to relax and trust the person sitting at the piano, knowing not only they are wonderful musically, but also have your back to cover any hiccups “ Tess, Arts Coordination Officer NSW Education
A Good Accompanist:
- does not overpower the soloist
- maintains a steady even tempo
- brings a sense of calm and confidence in situations where the soloist is feeling nervous
- knows that being on time means arriving 5 minutes early - ready to play
- has a positive attitude and a happy demeanour
Finding an Accompanist For EXAMS
In Sydney, the most common exams are run by the AMEB and Trinity College London. These basically follow a series of Grades, from basic Preliminary Levels right up to the high levels where you get to have letters like AMus after your name. I play for all levels from the beginner Preliminary levels right through to letters.
Accompanists who COACH Musicians and Singers
It’s such a privilege to coach musicians and singers and watch their musicality and performance blossom. How often do we spend hours practicing our solo line, and suddenly when we rehearse together, the music makes sense.
“What can I say! You not only teach and accompany but give direction in the world of music” Nancy, Mum
Rehearsals are the perfect opportunity to fix things and LEARN. When you put the music together with your pianist, it shines a light on any little mistakes - especially with speed and rhythm.
People With Top Results Make Rehearsing With Their Pianist A Priority
It's NOT just all about YOU. It's how you play and interact with others that is on show. You will be judged on this - so don't underestestimate the importance of rehearsal with your pianist - or the impact this can have on your results!
It’s often best to book a rehearsal once you’ve learned your solo part, just to go though the music score together and mark up any of these tricky spots so that they don’t become ‘imprinted’ with mistakes. It’s so much easier to correct something that hasn’t yet become a habit.
I would recommend that you record your sessions - either the piano part alone, playing together, or both.
As music gets more challenging, rhythms can get more and more complex. This is why its a GREAT idea to learn to subdivide the beat and understand rhythm in the earlier grades. It will help you read faster and better, and let's face - once you've learnt the rhythm patterns, they simply repeat over and over again.
AMAZING PRACTICE TOOL...
As students play better and reach higher levels with more challenging music the biggest obstacle I have noticed for them to overcome is rhythm, I will often do an extra recording with the solo line played with the basics of the accompaniment. This way you can check that your solo line is in time with correct rhythms - and all the CUES for your entries are covered.
This is a wonderful tool to help you practice. You can nominate your perfect speed, even record at a different practice speeds leading up to performance speed.
ONLINE BACKING TRACKS
I’m often asked to supply backing tracks, especially for online video exams. These are great simply to help you practice, or you can use them for an actual exam recording by playing your backing track through one device and recording a video of yourself singing or playing ‘live' on a second device. Then you can upload and submit your best recording according to the instructions set out by the organisation running the exams.
Backing tracks are also a fabulous way to rehearse at home. Sometimes we do a ZOOM call to talk through the right speeds and any special instructions, so that when I go to record the backing track, I can try to match the performance you love most.
RECORDING [Onstage and in the Studio]
Most people come into the studio for rehearsals and recording. Occasionally I travel to them or to a school, where we record ‘live’ together.
How exciting to perform ‘live - sometimes with an audience!
Why do people work with me
Polish - Results - Confidence
I’m so happy when players and singers tell me they’ve learned more in our one session together than they have in months. They simply get RESULTS. This is just because they’ve done all the hard work with their wonderful teachers, and I get to help things come together - like the cake finally rising and get to eat it too!
“Thanks so much for your input and expertise. Your insights and advice are what helps these students reach another level of playing” - Anthony Head of Music
Basically, I have HUGE experience and make people feel supported, confidence and at ease .Over decades, I’ve been playing for numerous Eisteddfods, Championships and Festivals. My experience ranges from intimate performances with a single player performing in front of a serious examiner or adjudicator in an exam, to playing to a full audience for a festival choir and stage band at the Opera House or Town Hall, playing in recording sessions on International Stages from Europe and America to Australia.
“ I got into the Con for performance! Thanks you so much for helping me with myaudition” Angus - HSC performance
My special ability is to put things SIMPLY so players have understanding of what they’re playing. I draw attention to the DETAIL in the music. After all, this is where the composer has left you a treasure map to follow. If you’re playing a piece say by Mozart - well he died in 1791,so you can’t call him and ask him how to play his music. But he did leave clues in his music,and the treasure is in your interpretation and understanding of style to bring out all of the jewels in the performance. This is where results happen, where one player or singer standsout from the crowd, and where a superior level of musicianship and refinement shine out.
The cost of hiring an accompanist is depends mostly on time, experience, level of performance and location. The level of difficulty of the music can mean hours of practice time for your accompanist - espeically if this is new repertoire for them. If travel involved this again means more time, plus travel expenses like tolls, petrol or public transport passes. And let's face it - if you are performing 'live' on radio, the fee will be higher than when doing a casual exam. For me, prices for Rehearsals are the same as for lessons, with a slight increase for performance to cover practice and performance time plus travel.
BOOK our Studio Venue
StandOut Studio is also an approved venue for AMEB Exams. Often music teachers get in touch so I can play for their students’ exams in our studio.
Doing exams in the studio has quite a few benefits for both students and parents. It’s so much more relaxed with a warm up room available, easy parking - and students can rehearse in the exact space where they will perform their exam.