Any recommendations on how to tackle or prepare for being accompanied by piano?
I have a student recital coming up in six weeks time. My teacher asked a lady to accompany me and others on the piano but we will probably just meet once before. Therefore I asked a friend for help. We met for the first time today. ... and I really messed up. My friend plays great but I never played serious stuff with piano before and I got totally confused. My intonation was off and my timing similar bad. Somehow I heard myself but it sounded so unfamiliar and I couldn’t figure out if my intonation was all right which it wasn’t.
I recorded her playing the piano for me to use for practice.
Any recommendations on how to tackle or prepare for being accompanied by piano?
The piece is Après un rêve by Fauré.
Thanks a lot
There’s always an adaption period needed when you first play a new piece with piano or orchestra.
Part of the problem is adjusting to the equal temperament of the piano.
Truly interested in your request above, I would strongly suggest you, Eva, listen to expert CD's or LP's of the work you are preparing to play, Firstly! There isn't in your own self described musical experience situation, a prior acquaintance with practising or performing a piece for Violin w/ piano accompaniment. This process is a 'normal' one employed by professional & avid amateur musicians, but if you are 'new' to Music & the Violin (I think?), this natural relationship has obviously, from your comments, thrown you off completely and before your writing in. Before engaging any pianist or piano (accompanist) you must have heard the piece of Faure performed by a fine violinist with piano accompaniment a number of times! The goal of sincere piano accompanist's is to avail/adapt themselves to the person playing the composer's main melodic part but never 'happen's' without a full harmonic accompaniment ~ A reasonably experienced accompanist will always defer to the solo part, aka, violin soloist, yet as the violinist playing the premier part, you must do your homework which, amongst other 'duties', requires you listening intently to a fine recording & absorbing the Whole of the piece well Before rehearsing w/a pianist! Your intonation experience as described could be attributed to the Piano played upon being dreadfully out of tune. For your perusal (A = 440, 441 or 442) & if this was/ is the case, then it's perfectly understandable your first-time rehearsal w/ piano would really throw you as a first-time violinist in rehearsal with a pianist! If the Piano wasn't tuned (ask the pianist) then the pianist really should find a decent Piano, tuned professionally, to rehearse with you. Being 'brand new' to this violin w/piano rehearsal technique can be off-putting. However, it is the sole & absolute responsibility of any soloist to know the work in its entirety by heart, & not only for purposes of rehearsing with a pianist but in seriously knowing the score of the work. Always learn piano parts as a mandatory requirement so you know everything going on in any solo work for your own musical understanding/inner feelings for the emotional sentiments inherent in the score. One other point: more often than not, the full score of a work for Violin w/ Piano 'reduction' score (piano accompaniment) is also scored for Violin with Full Orchestra. Translation! All Violin Concerto's are for Full Orchestral accompaniment, & almost always have a 'piano reduction' part which is a shrunken version of the full orchestral accompaniment to a more 'intimate' piano version accompaniment!
Well... one can approach this as
If this is your first time with a piano, you might want to play under tempo the first few times. That will give you an opportunity to adjust to the experience. Then, as you get used to it, speed up gradually.
If you are new to this then schedule an extra session with the actual accompanist who will be performing with you, even if it increases the fee. Your friend may be a good pianist but if (s)he is inexperienced as an accompanist then you can well expect the kinds of problems you experienced. Accompanying is more than just having reasonable chops and a willingness to listen. There are skills and techniques specific to the task that must be learned. The same is true of performing as a soloist with a pianist, of course. You and your partner need to agree on certain conventions, and your teacher should be instructing you in that language. When I agree to accompany, my preference is to appear at the student's violin lesson so that I can learn the teacher's preferences first hand. Furthermore I agree with Tom Holzman.
After a bit more thought, if a 'friend' was at the Piano when you "really messed up", this might likely remain in your memory which doesn't bode well for a next time if the same pianist ~ Confidence is built upon good experiences from the start point. Please concentrate on the current goal of a public offering of this piece by Gabriel Faure, & if necessary, after much undisturbed practising of your part plus intense concentration on the piano accompaniment as the harmonic 'better half', try a 'mini' second rehearsal w/ your 'friend' & w/the slightest hint of feeling thrown off/disoriented please politely cease, & claim being 'still not fully prepared.' But do have another pianist to turn to in your hip pocket. My concern is your current goal - the public performance upcoming which can further determine your confidence level by lasting notes of your recital appearance in the Faure ~ btw, one of the contributor's here offered a time honoured bit of advice: try your piece w/the pianist under tempo and keep it in 'Under tempo' range affording you both time to listen carefully to each other whilst beginning to fuse together ~ The process of building a work for public performance is a calculated exercise & in fast passages of both instruments demands metronome notch at a time walk-through's to build technical symmetry together as One. I must add- the for-sure 'route' needs determined patience on the part of both you & pianist. Look at this from an athletic perspective: a seriously invested Track Runner builds up for a race with patient non-stop coaching on the track, but doesn't "practise" in tempo or at top speed! To the contrary, those w/ due diligence build up from slowed motion to check technical imperfections & addressing them in the slowed motion speed which revealed the fault/s, then correct & rework at least 5 times firstly & only then, do Runner's move up the speed, i.e., notch on our own 'track' - the metronome! I can verify, Eva, from over 45 years of international concert playing, that flawless technical/musical performances come through 99% perspiration (hours of patient practise) & a strict regimen of calculated practising (alone) & then fusing together with one's steady pianist!
good luck Eva. like Elisabeth said, you should actually take the lead. if you don't or you can't for whatever reason, the confusion you described will result. Rocky said that ideally you should play together and the violin should not really be the "boss", and he is right ideally, but in your present situation you should know the piece inside out with a clear "picture" in your head how it should sound, and absolutely take the lead here, to ensure a good result.
The good thing about professional accompanists that are familiar with the violin literature, is that they will generally stay with you no matter what you do.
I'll repeat some of the ideas above, but maybe more concise. There is a real difference between the solo violin/piano accompaniment genre, and the Sonata genre. For the Sonatas, mentally relabel them chamber music, piano-violin duets, and let the pianist be the music director of the ensemble. They play more notes than you, and frequently have the more technically difficult part. Take good care of your pianist. Pianists that want to do this are uncommon. After listening to different recordings sit down at a desk, with a metronome, without the violin, and decide on the tempos that you want the audience to hear, not necessarily how fast you personally want to do them, mark the numbers in the part. Also mentally calculate the rubatos, accelerandos, ritards. Then, of course, work up to those tempos with the metronome. Do look at the piano part, to spot potential rhythm and ensemble spots.
I remember I was accompanying my daughter at one of her lessons, preparing for a recital. Her teacher wanted certain changes, and he decided to save time by demonstrating. Wow! As the accompanist I felt like I had been grabbed by the arm and brought right along by a combination of eye contact, gestures that represent a conversational language among stage performers (which he teaches all his students), and of course his playing. Because I play the violin too, I suddenly understood what it means for the violinist to lead. A great lesson for us both.
First of all many thanks to everybody for putting in the time to reply so thoughtfully, helpfully and encouraging!
In kind response to Paul Deck ~
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