Since the word got out that I taught a piano course for
accompanying singers at music camp, people have asked
me if I have a training program for that topic so that
people could learn at home. Surprise. I do not.
But as I went through the course over a period of seven
days, one thing became very clear. Almost every aspect
of piano accompaniment style relates either directly or
indirectly to just about every other aspect of playing
piano. (With one important exception which I'll reveal
in just a moment.)
For example, using the piano as an accompanying tool
will often incorporate elements of the blues, left hand
and right hand variations, the Circle of Fifths,
playing by ear, introductions, endings, power chords,
and various piano style.
Yet it's on the whole easier to use the piano to
accompany a singer than it is to play solo piano. And
this brings us to the important exception I mentioned a
second ago. When accompanying a singer, a piano player
does not play melodies. That's the singers' department.
Much like a guitar player, a piano accompanyist
"strums" chords. And that's something that can be done
with just one hand on a piano.
If you play guitar, imagine how much easier it would be
if you could make chords by using just one hand instead
of two. But that is indeed what it's like with the
Of course there is more to good piano accompaniment
than merely playing chords with one hand. But that's
the basis of it. So will I ever write a book about
accompaniment? That's yet to be answered. No immediate
plans. But I will continue to educate people on the
fundamentals of chord piano. And remember, the
techniques are all applicable in one way or another to
piano accompaniment as well as solo playing.
And I do plan on repeating the class again next summer at
Lark Camp. (www.larkcamp.com)