Friday, March 12, 2010

Dear Soloist -- From the Accompanist

I discovered a new Facebook page yesterday called "People for the Ethical Treatment of Accompanists."

Oh my gosh. I love that name.

Someone posted something that they got from someone who got it from somewhere else, and I thought I'd post it here. It might not mean much to my usual audience (although I encourage you to read it anyway; it's funny), but maybe other accompanists out there will stumble upon it through some sort of Google search.

Oh yes, and please do note the section stating that we are now called "Collaborative Artists," and not Accompanists. Very Cool.

Here we go. Again, I am not the author of this:



Dear Sir/Madam,

It is not my intention to be rude, offensive or ugly. On the
contrary, I simply would like to take this opportunity to
express my concerns for your future well-being.

Where do I begin? Ah, yes. If you are responsible, you will
not have to resort to destroying friendships in order to
have an accompanist for juries. This is something you should
have thought about before midterms. It is not my obligation
as a pianist or your friend to accept any amount of music
after the first month of a semester. This includes
desperately and pathetically imploring me to learn your
music two hours before your jury. I will not name names, but
you know who you are.

If you so choose to employ me as your accompanist, better
yet, if I agree to be your accompanist, there are a few
things to keep in mind:

1) If it takes you a semester to perfect your piece, it will
take me the same amount of time. Therefore, if you want it
to be exceptional (like Jan Grimes), then provide me with a
copy of the score months in advance. If you don't care what
it sounds like, or if you just suck as a musician in general
, then don't ask me to do it; my performance will reflect on
you, and more importantly, yours will reflect on me. So if
you suck don't even bother asking.

2) Submitting your music to me does not mean that I am
forevermore bonded into unconditional slavery. I am a kind
person, but pulling me aside in the School of Music lobby,
practice room, stairwell, or lavatory and asking me to sight
read your **** is just unacceptable. I am more than happy
and willing to set aside numerous practice times at your
convenience. But do not take advantage of me. Other
accompanists may not be so accommodating. Oh, and for your
411, the job title is no longer "Piano Accompanist." It is
"Collaborative Artist." It just sounds better, so get used
to it.

3) In your scheduled practice times, or at any time that you
are requiring me to exercise my sight-reading ability,
please understand that I am human, not a machine. Contrary
to popular belief, I cannot sight-read perfectly. I will
probably miss many notes. If you cannot even manage one note
at a time, chances are I cannot sight-read flawlessly twelve
notes to every one of yours. Notes do not instantaneously
register in my brain through osmosis, travel down my arm,
into my fingers, and play themselves upon your command. If I
make a mistake, deal with it. You make mistakes, too (and

4) Furthermore, practice sessions are not a time for me to
help you learn your part. Being a music major at LSU should
mean that you can read music on your own. Learn your part
before rehearsing with me. Please. = )

5) Do not EVER turn around and snap your finger at me to
change tempo. I will follow your tempo. It is not my
responsibility to make sure that you don't slow down. If you
slow down, I will simply follow you and let you suffocate. I
will not push the tempo. That's your job. If you are
egotistical enough to think that you can be my metronome,
stick your head in the commode and flush it.

6) One thing to keep in mind is that I am a music major just
like yourself and I have my own personal repertoire to
practice. My music comes first, just like yours comes first
for you. Everyone seems to expect 200% from me, which is
just plain dumb. I will do my best, which is more than most
accompanists will do for you. So be appreciative.

7) All of you are aware of how few accompanists there are
available. Just for your information, there are five
undergraduate pianists at LSU. If you continue to treat us
in the same manner, you can expect things to get worse, not
better. So be nice. Otherwise, get used to singing by

8) One last note, I am a poor college student. I am not
doing this for ****s and giggles, but because I need the
money. Even though we are friends, I need to keep this part
of my life as business. Please respect this, and do not
expect free favors, or ask for them. If I were a millionaire
and had nothing but time on my hands, I would be more than
happy to extend my accompanying services to you free of
charge at anytime. This is not the case, however. So I need
you to treat this as you would any business. Such is life.

I would like to thank you from the bottom of my heart for
taking time out of your busy life to read this short note. I
sincerely hope that you will heed my advice so that you will
not end up missing fingers like Mr. Mozart in the lobby. I
love you all dearly, and hope we can all work together to
make the School of Music an environment of true harmony.
Have a blessed day!

Your humble servant-only not,
The pianist.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Another movie night update

I haven't written about movie night lately, so I figured I can do another post on that.

The kids never get tired of the movies, but they do tire of the pizza. Often Rebecca tells me she doesn't like my pizza. (Although I can't quite figure out why.) One night I made apple/brie/apricot jam quesedillas, which was a hit which I should actually do again (although it's sticky).

The last few times I ordered a pizza, which was fun at first, but then the fun wore off. That should be reserved for once about every 2-3 months.

Anyway, as far as the movies themselves, here are some that were hits:

Before Christmas, we saw Home Alone. I hadn't seen it since it originally came out, and was expecting to groan through the whole thing. But it wasn't too bad. My favorite part was the sub-plot with the neighbor (the guy that used to be on Northern Exposure). Also, as a parent, it struck me how incredibly rude the kids were to each other at the beginning of the movie. I don't think my kids ever talk to each other like that.

The girls, of course, loved it, especially the end sequence, and especially Rachael.

Rebecca (not surprisingly, when you think about it) really liked Fly Away Home. I know this got great reviews, and I did like the first 30 minutes or so, but I wouldn't really say I was a fan of this one. I got bored with it, and was a little relieved when Benjamin needed me to put him to bed.

Recently we saw No Deposit, No Return, another one of those "Disney 70's family movies." It was pretty fun in a goofy kind of way. (Yes, that is the Dad from A Christmas Story.) All three kids loved it, especially the girls. At one point Rachael laughed so hard so fell right off the couch.

Seeing Kim Richards reminded me that we still hadn't seen ...

... Return to Witch Mountain.

This got some horrible reviews, but it wasn't all that bad. It was more action-packed, and darker, than the first movie. Rebecca said she liked this one better. I did not. After giving it some thought, I realized the movie's main flaws were the fact that a) Tony and Tia were separated for almost the entire movie; and b) That "gang" that befriended Tia ... what the heck was that all about?

I'm going to continue to pursue this 70's theme. I think we will watch The Apple Dumpling Gang (which I think I saw, but don't remember a thing about) this Friday.

What we're all reading right now

On some level, I think a main motivation for me to homeschool was that we would hopefully have more time to read.

I was a big fan of Beverly Cleary when I was a kid, and right now I'm enjoying them again by reading several of the Henry books to the girls. Beverly Cleary always made me think of Ramona, and I didn't realize that there were many books where Ramona was a very remote, secondary character.

Benjamin has been on an almost ridiculous Richard Scarry kick. We read one of these to him at least twice a day, every day. It's interesting how darn ... well, preachy these books are! Yet they are so loved. I don't know if the lesson is that little kids like the preachiness, or just that that the funny characters and pictures override it.

These days it takes me forever to get through a novel, if I attempt it at all. I was amazed when my mother loaned me The Help (which I had never heard of and thought I would probably hate) and I slurped it up in less than two months.

It's interesting, thought ... I loved reading The Help. However, I would not say that it was an exceptionally good book. I noticed some reviews compared it to Harper Lee. Um, no.

So now I've started slowing tackling A Tree Grows in Brooklyn.

I like this book, but it's a little hard to read because it's so sad. It reminds me a little of The Grapes of Wrath, except for the fact that I actually like it.

Since I always have to be reading more than one thing at once (and I always need non-fiction because it's easier to skim), I'm also reading a fairly new book called Simplicity Parenting.

This is one of those books where it's like, "Yeah, I know, I do try to do this, but I could use the reminder." It talks about purging a lot of the toy and book clutter from the kids' rooms, so their play can be more focused and creative. Having mealtime rituals. He even recommends no TV in the house if your kids are younger than seven. (Which I don't and won't do, but I can appreciate the sentiment.)

Robert hasn't "read" in the traditional sense for years, but he does listen to a lot of audio books during his commute. He's been working hard, on and off, for years, writing "Rachael's Hospital Story," and is listening to this to help him best edit it: