Finding an accompanist for your music exam

Every exam session we receive a high volume of last-minute enquiries from exam candidates looking for an accompanist, usually for an exam within 2 days’ time. Often the candidates has been let down by a pianist hence the late request, but other times, it appears that they haven’t realised an accompanist is needed. Here are a few tips to guarantee you will be able to find an accompanist.

  1. Book an exam time that takes place before 1.30pm. Most private music teachers start working when children finish school. That means that from 3.30pm onwards, we are not able to accompany as we will have a busy afternoon and evening of teaching. The minute you get your exam time from ABRSM, do call them up and change it to an earlier slot, even if that means choosing a different venue.
  2. Pick an exam centre with a warm-up piano. As the requests are sent so late, this does not usually allow time for a rehearsal in advance. This only leaves us with the option to rehearse in the 5 or 10 minutes you get in the warm-up room. However if your venue does not have a warm-up facility, then this won’t be an option. Do check in advance with the Local Representative or the exam board directly to find out about each venue. Exam centres often change the layout so we can’t reliably inform you which centre has a piano for warming up!
  3. How Much to Pay? Here are the Musician’s Union rates. As an example, Grades 1 – 5 will be £39 plus travel time of £10 per hour each way, plus the cost of the travel fare. So the basic rate is £59 per accompaniment plus the cost on the Oyster card. Cash payment on the day is required so do ensure you have that ready to pay at the end of the session. If you are driving, a lift back to the station is always appreciated!

Author: Head Teacher

Owner of the SE22 Piano School in East Dulwich.
Founder and Director of the Dulwich Music Festival.
Piano teacher based in East Dulwich since 2007.

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