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  • Writer's pictureDavid G. Miller

“…but can’t you just follow me?”

Quotes collected by David G. Miller AM, former Senior Lecturer in Collaborative Piano at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music.

The preeminent English collaborative pianist, Gerald Moore, wrote two books about his art: “Am I Too Loud” and “The Unashamed Accompanist”. The less well-known Dutch collaborative pianist Coenraad Bos, whom Moore regarded very highly, entitled his book “The Well-Tempered Accompanist”. These titles suggest the pianist's perspective in a collaborative partnership.


This collection of comments made over the years to me, and my collaborative piano colleagues and students, is an attempt to reveal the other side of this artistic partnership: How do singers and instrumentalists treat their pianists?


The results may be predictable, or perhaps surprising, but hopefully instructive. I regret that many collaborative pianists will probably be able to add to this list from their own experience.

David G. Miller

I thought you’d appreciate the experience.
I can do it on my own.
It was so much better yesterday.
It sounds different on the record.
Can you put the backing on tape for me?
I like making mistakes - it gives me a thrill.
So you’re not so good at sight reading, eh?
The piano part is really easy.
There are only a couple of easy pieces, I think...
Could you play for me tomorrow?
My real accompanist is sick.
I’ve tried everyone else.
We won’t need many rehearsals.
Haven’t you listened to the recording I gave you?
You just learn the notes. I’ll give you the interpretation next week.
Can you do a pressure gig?
Just fudge it.
Its a standard work - shouldn’t be a problem.
I’ve played it before.
I need a piano to play in the background.
I’d forgotten what it's like to play with a piano.
You were fine - you did everything I told you to.
This is the fast one - remember?
The performance is tomorrow - when can we rehearse?
Its a b***** long introduction, isn’t it?
I’ll fix you up next week.
I like to experiment with my accompanist, then get a new one.
I’m not sure which sonata to play, so could you learn them all?
It was alright at home.
It sounds different with the piano.
This entry will be late because I’m trying to be vocal.
Are you sure that’s right?
What do you need the words for? Don’t you just play the notes?
Oh, so it has a piano part?
Sorry, the photocopier didn’t print the key signature.
Its easier with the piano part - I can fudge better.
I don’t usually do that.
I’m getting confused by the piano part.
Opera is much easier [than lieder] because you don’t have to think.
You just have to wait until I get to the next bar.
You’re better than I’d expected.
You can’t win with me.
How about I follow you there.
It’s hard, because I have to jump from a D-sharp to an E-flat.
The piano part sounds a little transposed today.
Never rush a soprano!
The composer made a mistake, so I can do what I like.
But it’s such a nice vowel.
Can we do that again? I was listening too much and lost my spot.
Is it me, or is the piano out of tune today?
Just shut up and play the piano.
Don’t worry - they’ll only be listening to me.
I won’t do that in the performance.
You are inspiring to work with. I never know what will happen next.
Some of the greatest singers in the world are stupid.
Don’t worry - I’ll learn the notes first and put the dynamics in later.
That wasn’t really meant to come out the way it sounded.
Intelligence in a singer is not necessarily an advantage.
It’s much easier when you listen!
You don’t have any choice, because you’re the accompanist.
Its so much easier with the piano.
Can we do it again and I’ll listen this time.
It makes more sense with the piano part!
The piece is pretty simple and shouldn’t need any rehearsals.
The less the singer knows, the better.
I was curious as to whether you were able to have a rehearsal some time.
I don’t think we will need more than one rehearsal.
If I listen to you, I’m sunk.
As soon as I start counting, I get lost.
Those breaths won’t be there.
I thought you’d stopped playing.
I can’t do without you.
Oh! We’re in 2/4!
I'll have to ignore you more.
You mean I have that much freedom?
It's weird with piano.
Are you loud?
Are you playing the right note?
Sounds cooler with the piano.
That was your fault - I wasn't playing!
Its easier by myself.
Its harder with the piano.
Oh, I'm supposed to be with you, aren't I?
I had a page turn.
What dynamic do you have there?
Oh well! Its all above me anyway.
Do you know where we got out?
Don’t look at me - I wasn’t playing.
It sounds better with the orchestra.
Have we started yet?
What tempo mark do you have?
I’m just accompanying here.
Don’t know if I’m playing loud or soft here, I haven’t had a lesson on it.
But she’s played them all before. Why must I pay a fee?
I didn’t know you played the piano.
I’m nothing without the piano.
I have to listen to you?
I can’t hear what you are doing.
I don’t do soft.
(Before a piano interlude) Make it quick!
Do I have a downbeat there?
I’m only looking at my part.
Thinking hurts my brain.
Its so nice to have a piano
Brass players never overdo it.
Its easier without the piano.
Practice is a sign of insecurity.
I was trying not to listen to you.
I was put off by the piano part.
Oh well, it’s all above me anyway.
Playing the piano is easy. Why can’t you do what I want?
It takes so long – all those rests.
I haven’t got my music or I’d write it in.
It’s much easier slower.
I’m just echoing you.
This is where I come in and do something.
I thought it was Schumann, because of all the piano.
(In a chamber music ensemble) You will fit it with us.
Don’t give the pianist a hard time. He hasn’t started yet.
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