Special Topics Course

Home | The Art of Accompanying

MUS 4703         Special Topics: The Art of Accompanying

Spring 2010


Instructor:  Dr. Pam Dennis

Ofice:  Luther L. Gobbel Library

Phone #: 425-3479 (ext. 1236)

e-mail:  dennis@lambuth.edu


Course description:  This course involves guided study in the practices and procedures of accompanying.  The course is individualized according to the level of the student and according to the accompanying needs of the Music Department.  Through first-hand experience, the student will develop the skills necessary to accompany in a variety of formats and settings including accompaniment of solo instrumentalists and solo vocalists, piano and/or piano-organ duets, chamber settings, congregational singing, symphonic band keyboard work, and choral ensemble accompanying. 


Course objectives:  At the completion of this course, the student will be able to:

  Perform for grade evaluation in studio, jury, recital, or chapel setting.

  Accompany both vocal and instrumental students.

  Perform with instrumental and choral ensembles.

  Acquire the many skills necessary for ensemble such as:  development of an acute ear, development of sight-reading skills, understanding of appropriate balance and phrasing, and ability to perform with accuracy of notes and rhythm.

  Utilize effective and efficient rehearsal methods and techniques.

  Understand how to accompany using orchestral score reduction and SATB choral score reduction.

  Understand ways in which accompanying differs in various settings.

  Perform as part of a team.


Required text:


Melvin Stecher et al., eds.  Keyboard Strategies: A Piano Series for Group and Private Instruction Created for the Older Beginner: Chapter VII: Source Materials for Accompanying, Score Reading, and Transposing.  New York:  G. Schirmer, Inc., 1986.


Other materials provided by professor for score reading and preparation.

Course assignments:


The student will be assigned to one or more instrumentalists or vocalists to accompany for the semester and will also accompany one or more pieces with an instrumental and/or choral ensemble, and will play for one chapel service.


Assignments will be made based on the level of difficulty of the repertoire and the ability of the accompanist.  Repertoire to be studied during the course will be agreed upon by the student and the person or group being accompanied in conjunction with the applied teacher or director of the ensemble.  The student is expected to learn the piano/organ part as much on his/her own as possible. 


While the repertoire is being learned, the student will meet in a seminar setting to look at various issues related to accompanying.  After the first couple of weeks, the student will begin having weekly lessons with Dr. Dennis to ensure that the repertoire has been learned sufficiently.  The student will then begin practicing with the soloist or ensemble on his/her own.  Then Dr. Dennis will meet with the student and the soloist/ensemble that is being accompanied to ensure that the accompaniment works well with the instrumental/vocal part(s).  The student must be able to give a polished performance with the soloist/group by the end of the semester as part of a jury or end-of-term concert.




  The student is expected to learn the assigned material to the best of his/her ability.

  The student is expected to show up for all the required lessons with Dr. Dennis and the soloist’s teacher or ensemble director.

  The student is expected to schedule regular rehearsals with the soloist outside of lessons. The student is expected to show up for rehearsals of assigned choral or instrumental ensembles.

  The student is expected to perform the assigned works at a high level by the end of the semester.

  The student is expected to keep a notebook related to the rehearsals that includes insight gained from the rehearsal, problems, ways to remedy difficult situations.


Grades are based upon:

  Attendance at lessons with Dr. Dennis and at the soloist’s lessons and at ensemble rehearsals – 25%

  Preparation for lessons – 25%

  Scheduling and attendance of regular rehearsals outside of the lessons - 10%

  Course notebook – 10%

  Performance of the assigned repertoire (in consultation with the studio instructor and/or ensemble director) – 30%

(If the consultation with the soloist’s applied teacher conflicts with Dr. Dennis’s assessment of the work, then the final grade may be raised or lowered one letter grade.)


Plagiarism:  Plagiarism is passing off another’s work as your own.  It is a form of cheating and lying.  The plagiarist learns nothing.  Any act of plagiarism will result in failure of the assignment and possible failure of the course. 

Dr. Pam Dennis