What is an accompanist?:
An accompanist is the person who plays a supporting or collaborative role to a performer (eg. singer) or a group of performers (eg. choir).
What does an accompanist do?:
The role of an accompanist depends on the needs of the performer. An accompanist may provide musical accompaniment by playing an instrument while the singer is performing. They may also play the role of back-up vocals to the main vocalist.
What instruments are played by an accompanist?:
The most common instrument used by accompanists is the piano, other instruments such as guitars are also popularly used. An organ is often played when accompanying a choir.
What are the qualities of a good accompanist?:
Aside from being able to play an instrument and knowing how to sight read, a good accompanist can adjust his/her playing style or technique to suit the performers' needs. An accompanist must be able to take direction and build a rapport with the singer in order for the performance to come out well. An accompanist is comfortable playing a supporting, yet equally important role, to the performer, or in the case of a choir, to the choir director and singers.
What other pointers should an accompanist keep in mind?:
Why become an accompanist?:
Being an accompanist is a rewarding career especially if you've managed to build a good working relationship with a performer. Many vocalists have used the same accompanists for most of their performances, a good example is the late Beverly Sills who, in this video, expresses her gratitude to her long-time piano accompanist Charles Wadsworth.
Check out the list of available positions for accompanists.