Thursday night musings...
First, let me say that those pianists who truly understand the art of collaboration - I salute you and couldn't perform or rehearse without you!!! When a singer finds an amazing pianist, you are our strength and our life line and create the support and structure for us to create together!!! This blog is not for you...
So feel free to copy the blog, use my name and leave copies in conspicuous places where those OTHER pianists can find it and read it and maybe realize a thing or two!!!
I have railed on CDs and producers for not paying for a decent pianist; I have railed on singers for learning the art and etiquette of how to prepare for a pianist and treat a pianist.
Now it's the pianist's turn!!!!!
What is going on in the audition room?!?!?!?!? Why are we running into such attitude and lack of respect and frankly, lack of competence from the bench????
I don't need to get "diva" 'tude or blatant disrespect from the bench, especially if, as a singer, I am prepared and treat YOU with respect.
And why is it that the pianists who are less than competent are the ones with 'tude???
Compensatory behavior really needs to be relaxed, and perhaps a little more time practicing is in order!!!
So, to those of you hiding in plain sight while sitting on the bench with snide remarks, rude behavior and wearing sunglasses cause you have to play "cool daddy" in your own play - since you CANNOT play...here's a few suggestions...
LEARN HOW TO PLAY THE REPERTOIRE. Seriously. If you accompany ballet classes, don't call yourself an audition pianist. If you don't know the audition repertoire - learn it. If you don't know how to collaborate with a singer - learn how to sing. Playing for an audition is an art too.
IT IS NOT ABOUT YOU!!!! Be as eccentric as you want, but PLAY WELL. This is the singer's audition. Respect that. You are there as very important and vital support staff for the singer who is auditioning. You are there to help each and every singer present in the best possible way! If you see a major faux-pas or flaw that could easily be addressed, don't assassinate the singer in the room and certainly don't start the tear-down before they start singing!!! A suggestion - have your business cards on the piano. After the audition, when the singer comes to thank you and pick up their binder, offer a card and say "email me - I may have a suggestion or two for you that might help".
Singers will love you for paying attention and for offering some advice without tearing them down!
Recognize that singers are spending time and money to coach and LEARN how to treat YOU. Don't disregard them! It costs NOTHING to greet them with openness, a smile (even from behind the shades), and make them comfortable! You have nothing to prove!!!! THEY DO!! Give them support if you see they have made the effort to be prepared.
LEARN SOME SOCIAL SKILLS!!!!!! Holy cow!!!! I mean, seriously...a little common courtesy goes a long long way...
Don't dismiss a singer's request for tempo!! They have worked hard to establish this. Now, granted, they might be nervous and not give you precisely what they want, but LISTEN to them - ACKNOWLEDGE they have tried!!
WAIT TO BE CUED!!! Don't decide when to start - wait for them to acknowledge they are ready and acknowledge YOU. You are there to SUPPORT!!!
If a singer is talking to you about tempo or showing you their cut (as they are taught to do) don't begin playing the song and ignore them, or text on your blackberry, or look around and ignore them!!!! COME ON!!! PAY ATTENTION!! Give them a little respect and recognize what they are asking of you.
Great pianists who work in collaboration NEVER give attitude because they are not compensating for lack of skill or talent. Pianists that give 'tude, generally have small...ability.
Singers - do not associate attitude with great ability!!! Those pianists who are truly gifted are generous, respectful and will do everything they can to give you the support you need during an audition. If YOU disrespect THEM, they will eat you for lunch, and have every right to do so.
Singers, treat your pianists with the respect they deserve; but do not let ANY lack-lustre pianist treat you with disrespect in ANY way. This is abusive and puts your audition in jeopardy.
If, as a CD, I saw ANY attitude and lack of ability coming from the bench during an audition session, I would stop the auditions, reschedule and fire the pianist on the spot. You either work with integrity, or you go back to wherever you came from!
How do you gain respect pianists? KNOW HOW TO DO WHAT YOU SAY YOU DO. PLAY, SUPPORT and DO NOT HIDE behind attitude, flamboyance, eccentricities or excuses. You are there as a professional, so either be one, or go home to your piano and practice a little more.
Singers - demand the best from yourself and your preparation, but also demand the best for your audition!!!
Do not HESITATE to contact a CD if you have a poor pianist and give them a heads up. Sometimes, they don't know!! And often, they will be thankful for the information.
Pianists, leave your personal problems and mental issues at the door - they are not part of the audition process, and they do not have any business in the room! The singer has nothing to do with your break-up, your ADD, your lack of funds, your hangover....(yes - I have heard ALL of these and yes, in an audition room!)
If you want respect as a professional, BEHAVE as a professional - in word, deed and attitude.
And to those who do: THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!
Susan Eichhorn Young
Susan Eichhorn Young covers all things voice—strong and sophisticated singing and speaking.
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