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Country Vocals Lessons: Working with an Accompanist

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In this lesson and
the next lesson we're gonna be talking
about working with other musicians.
The situation where as a singer
you aren't playing an instrument,
you are just there singing and
you are working with someone
who is going to play with you.
A piano player who is playing for
an audition for you or a guitar player who
is playing a gig with you and
you are singing with their accompaniment.
A lot of these principles apply
if you are also playing and
just working with an additional musician.
But I especially want to talk
about the leadership role that you
play as the singer when you
are working with side men,
that's the kind of genetic
term- side men or side women,
that we use to refer to the musicians
that a singer would hire or
collaborate with on a job,
on a show or in a rehearsal.
So many of you are already
familiar with this situation.
You work with musicians, and
you do rehearsals and you do gigs already.
For some singers this is kind
of an intimidating prospect.
If you haven't worked or collaborated with
a musician before, maybe it's a little,
makes you a little nervous.
What we wanna do is eliminate
all of those nerves and
let you feel prepared,
give you some ideas to
have a nice foundational approach to
anytime you're entering a situation
whether it's rehearsal or a gig where
you're working with other musicians.
The very most important bottom line is for
you to be prepared, just like a boy scout,
you wanna be prepared.
And the basic rules of being prepared for
you mean knowing what
your songs are that you want to rehearse
or that you're going to be performing.
Knowing your material,
being very familiar with it.
If you don't have, for example,
a song completely memorized and you're in
a rehearsal situation where you're both
kind of continuing to learn the material.
Just make sure you've got your lyric sheet
there in front of you, so that you have
the tool that you need to participate and
lead that moment with all the information
that you need in front of you.
So you wanna know your material or have
the tools you need to run through it, and
perform it, and practice it without
interruption and without slowing down.
You want to bring a chart.
This is where you wanna tap into your
knowledge of the Nashville number system
or the ability to write out the chords in
the proper time and meter, so that you
can give the musician the chart that shows
them exactly what you need them to play.
You'll wanna know at least one or
two possible keys that work for
you as the singer.
What is your optimum key, or
what do you think is your optimum key?
You might need to transpose it a half
step or a whole step in one direction or
the other to get it exactly
in your sweet spot.
You might not be able to discover that
until you're in the rehearsal with
the musician, but
at least have a general idea of
where the melody lies in your range so
that you can start with a specific key.
Let's try it in G and we'll see how it
feels, we may need to bring it down to F.
We also want to make sure that
when you walk into that situation,
you carry yourself like
the captain of the ship.
One of the key components
to leading a rehearsal or
leading a gig,
is to have the confidence to
be the person that the other,
the rest of the group can look to for
guidance, for leadership, like this
person knows what they are doing.
This person is gonna keep our rehearsal on
track, this person is leading the gig and
I can trust them to be listening and
be conscious of what needs to happen
in order to make the music great.
Again, just being prepared
gives you the kind
of confidence that you need to
really lead a rehearsal or a show.
So as long as you know your material and
you've got the tools that you need on hand
for yourself and for the musicians you
are working you are working with you will
naturally have the kind of confidence
that people look to and trust.
Another key component to successful
working with other musicians is
respect where you honor the work,
and effort, and time, and
practice that the people you are working
with have put into their instruments,
have put into their musicianship.
And you walk in to that
experience honoring that and
with a degree of humility, knowing
that you have put a lot of work in,
and that the people you're working with,
the other musicians, have also put a lot
of work into studying their instrument and
practicing, so that they come in prepared.
And if they sense your respect, your
honoring of the work that they have done,
it creates a really nice environment,
a platform of respect that you
can work with one another.
And then here is the most serious,
most critical element of
a successful Moment or
session in working with any
other musicians and that is fun.
You should always approach working
in music with at least some,
Understanding some appreciation,
some effort toward it being fun.
That's why we call it playing music.
Any time we refer to making
music we always talk about
we're gonna play an instrument.
We're gonna play a song.
It's not a coincidence that
we use that verb play.
It's because there's an essential
quality to the making of music
that makes it very important
even if we're playing sad songs,
that we approach the making of
the music with a sense of joy and
a sense of fun and play.
We play music and
there's nothing more satisfying than
playing music with other musicians.
If you are already working with
an accompanist or working with other
musicians and you'd like to submit a video
of you working with your accompanist,
working up a song, rehearsing,
even performing together.
Go ahead and do that.
I would love to see and
hear your work with other musicians and
be able to offer some feedback.
So if you're fortunate enough
to have that kind of situation,
feel free to submit a video of you working
with an accompanist or with a group.
As part of this lesson's resources,
you're gonna be able to access a kind
of simulated, a rehearsal situation.
I'm gonna be going into a rehearsal
of a couple of songs with an accompanist
that I'm gonna be working with.
I'm gonna be in a rehearsal situation
where we're working up a couple of songs
to perform at a show.
So, I just wanted you to get
an opportunity to kind of be a fly
on the wall to watch how
a singer would collaborate with
an accompanist to work up a couple
of new pieces of material.
Hope you enjoy that,
let me know what you think.