SHEET MUSIC

One very important service I offer is personalized music preparation. Auditions invariably go more smoothly when the pianist is given the music prepared in such a way that there is no question about what the singer expects to hear. The publication-quality sheet music that I create will have all repeats, introductions, modulations, and endings clearly indicated. Yes, you often can purchase sheet music online, and transpose it into most any key, but when you want a specific piano accompaniment, creative audition cuts, and notation that indicates exactly how YOU sing a piece of music, it needs to be custom created. 

Notes on Sheet Music Preparation

All the time you spent learning and rehearsing a song with your teacher, coach, or pianist — live or on tape — may lull you into thinking that the accompaniment will always be exactly what you're used to. When you hear your music played for the first time by a new pianist, it might sound like a completely different song! There are things you can do to minimize this problem, and to have a more successful audition or performance, even when you haven't rehearsed with the pianist beforehand.

  • Avoid songs with overly complex piano parts which are difficult to sight-read.
  • Make sure that your music clearly indicates your preferred introduction, ending, cuts, tempo changes, repeats, and transpositions.
  • Take a few moments to explain to the pianist any changes you've made in the music, even if they're marked. Set a tempo by softly singing a couple of bars of the song.
  • Be a leader — let the accompanist accompany! If you try to follow the piano, but the pianist tries to follow you, you’ll get nowhere.
  • Have your music prepared in such a way that it stands up firmly on the piano. Loose pages falling all over will certainly hinder your performance. Remember, the easier you make it on the pianist, the better the accompaniment will sound, and the better your performance will be.

Transposing Your Music

If you need to sing your song in a key other than written, it must be transposed into the new key. Changing the key of a song should not be considered any sort of failure on the part of the singer; just as you wear clothing in your correct size, your songs must be in a key that's correct for your voice. For the accompanist, transposition of music into a different key is a special talent and ability, which not every pianist can do to the same degree.

Before having a piano part transposed, be sure that the musical arrangement is really what you want the pianist to play. It's certainly not a guarantee that your music will be played properly, only that you've done everything possible to make it clear to the pianist. Accompanists are only human, and certainly some are more competent than others. A good attitude and a smile will go a long way towards inspiring pianists to do their best. No accompanist sets out to destroy your audition or performance, but remember that a bad pianist wasn't just bad for you — every other singer that day will have had the same problem to contend with. How you deal with it is what will make the difference. But remember: “Failing to prepare, is preparing to fail!”

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Bob Marks

National Association
of Teachers of Singing

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