How to Play with a Pianist

Music is awesome. There’s tons of music out there, especially for an instrument like the flute. But a lot of that music requires you to play with a pianist.

How to Play with a Pianist | Hannah B Flute

Sure, you can play music by yourself. But playing with others allows you to hear and feel the entire piece.

It also gives you the chance to work with others and communicate your vision together. Every musician should try to play with a pianist at some point.

Who knows? You might just love it.

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Why Play with a Pianist

There are many reasons to play with a pianist. If you pursue music school and/or a career in music, you will have to play with a pianist at some competitions and auditions.

Of course, if you don’t pursue music professionally, you don’t have to play with a pianist. But there are many reasons to do so, even if it isn’t required of you.

If you’ve never played with a pianist, there are a few situations where working with one can be great. Here are a few of those reasons.

Accompanied pieces

A lot of solo repertoire for flute and other instruments has a piano part. While I love playing unaccompanied works, an accompaniment part can really add a lot.

Especially if you play an instrument like flute, it can be hard to showcase different harmonies on a single instrument. But add piano, and you can perform music without sacrificing harmonies or other musical elements.

Sure, you can play an accompanied piece without the piano. However, if you can play with a pianist, you can hear more of the music and so can your audience.

Chamber music with piano

Aside from solo music, some chamber music includes piano. If you can’t play with a pianist as a soloist, it will be just as hard to play chamber music with ¬†any instrument.

Similar to solos with piano, you don’t get the full effect of playing a chamber piece with a part missing.

In the case of chamber music, you have to know how to work with all of the other musicians. However, knowing how to play with a pianist is a good start.

Opening yourself up to this music means more opportunities for learning and possibly performing great music.

Experience working with other musicians

Whether you pursue a career in music or not, every musician will probably play with others at some point. It may be a duet partner, as part of an orchestra, or something else.

The more experience you have working with others, the easier it will get. Being able to play with a pianist is an excellent starting point.

The more you work with one other musician means you can start to work better in chamber groups and large groups.

How to Play with a Pianist

If you have yet to play with a pianist, you might be a bit nervous. Whether it’s for your music school juries, a competition, or a recital, playing with a pianist can be scary.

But it can also be really fun! You just have to go into the situation at your best. That way, you can make the most of your rehearsal time as well as the performance.

Practice your part

Before you meet to rehearse with your pianist, you need to practice your part! It sounds obvious, but I still want to remind you.

If you show up to a rehearsal without having practiced, you will look unprofessional, and you’ll waste your time.

You don’t have to be perfect. However, you should have a solid foundation on your part of the piece you want to work on. That way, you can focus more on putting things together.

After all, that’s what any rehearsal is for. It’s not for you to learn your part that you can learn on your own.

Know their part

Of course, you don’t have to know how to play the piano part. But you should have an idea of how things work.

Ideally, you should know where important parts are, like where you line up with the piano, where they might have the melody, etc.

You can learn the piano part by listening to recordings and looking at the score. If there are any major sections, make sure to mark those in your part.

That way, you can know ahead of time when something important comes up.

Again, you don’t have to know their entire part. But you should know enough that you know how to catch up if you get off.

Check the tempo

Another important thing is that you and anyone you play with have the piece at the same tempo. You don’t want to have to play faster or slower than you feel comfortable.

So if you can, get an average tempo so that you can start the piece off at the right speed. If you don’t have a physical metronome, you can download a metronome app.

And if you don’t have an idea of the right tempo before you start, figure that out during your first rehearsal. That way, you and your pianist can stay on track for the next rehearsal.

Keep going

One of the things about playing with anyone else is that you can’t stop when you make a mistake. You have to keep going with the music.

Before you start to play with a pianist, don’t be afraid to try to run through your piece without stopping, but on your own.

That way, you can figure out how to get back on track. Hopefully, you won’t get off.

But that’s also why it’s important to know what’s happening in the other part.

For example, if you know you have a specific rhythm with the piano in a specific bar, you can come back in there if you get lost.

Practice, practice, practice

This applies to just about anything in music. The more you do it, the easier it will get.

So try to play with a pianist as often as you can. Even joining an ensemble or playing with friends can be a good alternative.

After you do it enough, you’ll be able to play with a pianist as if you’ve done it for years.

So…

Have you had to play with a pianist before? What do you wish you knew before you started? Leave your thoughts in the comments!

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