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Become An Accompanist

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Working As An Accompanist

  • Performing for or Working Directly with the Public
  • Establishing and Maintaining Interpersonal Relationships
  • Thinking Creatively
  • Getting Information
  • Identifying Objects, Actions, and Events
  • Mostly Sitting

  • Repetitive

  • $43,000

    Average Salary

What Does An Accompanist Do

Musicians and singers play instruments or sing for live audiences and in recording studios. They perform in a variety of styles, such as classical, jazz, opera, hip-hop, and rock.

Duties

Musicians and singers typically do the following:

  • Perform music for live audiences and recordings
  • Audition for positions in orchestras, choruses, bands, and other types of music groups
  • Practice playing instruments or singing to improve their technique
  • Rehearse to prepare for performances
  • Find locations for performances or concerts
  • Travel, sometimes great distances, to performance venues
  • Promote their careers by maintaining a website or social media presence or doing photo shoots and interviews

Musicians play one or more instruments. To make themselves more marketable, many musicians become proficient in multiple musical instruments or styles.

Musicians play in bands, orchestras, or small groups. Those in bands may play at weddings, private parties, clubs, or bars while they try to build enough fans to get a recording contract or representation by an agent. Some musicians work as part of a large group of musicians who must work and practice together, such as an orchestra. A few musicians become section leaders, who may be responsible for assigning parts to other musicians or for leading rehearsals.

Others musicians are session musicians, who specialize in playing backup for a singer or band leader during recording sessions and live performances.

Singers perform vocal music in a variety of styles. Some specialize in a particular vocal style, such as opera or jazz; others perform in a variety of musical genres. Singers, particularly those who specialize in opera or classical music, may perform in different languages, such as French or Italian. Opera singers act out a story by singing instead of speaking the dialogue. Some singers become background singers, providing vocals to harmonize or support a lead singer.

In some cases, musicians and singers write their own music to record and perform. For more information about careers in songwriting, see the profile on music directors and composers.

Some musicians and singers give private music lessons to children and adults. Others with a background in music may teach music in public and private schools, but they typically need a bachelor’s degree and a teaching license. For more information, see the profiles on kindergarten and elementary school teachers, middle school teachers, and high school teachers.

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How To Become An Accompanist

There are no postsecondary education requirements for musicians or singers interested in performing popular music. However, many performers of classical music and opera have at least a bachelor’s degree.

Education

There are no postsecondary education requirements for those interested in performing popular music. Many musicians and singers of classical music and opera have a bachelor’s degree in music theory or performance. To be accepted into one of these programs, applicants are typically required to submit recordings or audition in person, and sometimes, must do both.

Undergraduate music programs teach students about music history and styles, and teach methods for improving their instrumental and vocal technique and musical expression. Undergraduate voice programs also teach courses in diction, which help students perform opera in foreign languages.

Some musicians and singers choose to continue their education by pursuing a master’s degree in fine arts or music.

Training

Musicians and singers need extensive and prolonged training and practice to acquire the skills and knowledge necessary to interpret music at a professional level. They typically begin singing or learning to play an instrument by taking lessons and classes when they are at a young age. In addition, they must practice often to develop their talent and technique.

Musicians and singers interested in performing classical music may seek additional training through music camps and fellowships. These programs provide participants with classes, lessons, and performance opportunities.

Important Qualities

Dedication. Auditioning for jobs can be a frustrating process because it may take many different auditions to get hired. Musicians and singers need determination and dedication to continue to audition after receiving many rejections.

Discipline. Talent is not enough for most musicians and singers to find employment in this field. They must constantly practice and rehearse to improve their technique, style, and performances.

Interpersonal skills. Musicians and singers need to work well with a variety of people, such as agents, music producers, conductors, and other musicians. Good people skills are helpful in building good working relationships.

Musical talent. Professional musicians or singers must have superior musical abilities.

Physical stamina. Musicians and singers who play in concerts or in nightclubs and those who tour must be able to endure frequent travel and irregular performance schedules.

Promotional skills. Musicians and singers need to promote their performances through local communities, word of mouth, and social media. Good self-promotional skills are helpful in building a fan base.

Advancement

As with other occupations in which people perform, advancement for musicians and singers means becoming better known, finding work more easily, and earning more money for each performance. Successful musicians and singers often rely on agents or managers to find them jobs, negotiate contracts, and develop their careers.

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Average Length of Employment
Church Organist 8.1 years
Organist 6.4 years
Soloist 5.9 years
Musician 5.2 years
Pianist 5.0 years
Accompanist 4.0 years
Top Careers Before Accompanist
Pianist 15.0%
Instructor 4.6%
Organist 4.5%
Teacher 3.5%
Internship 3.1%
Volunteer 2.5%
Musician 2.5%
Assistant 2.3%
Director 1.9%
Top Careers After Accompanist
Pianist 15.8%
Organist 5.9%
Instructor 3.4%
Musician 3.3%
Teacher 2.6%
Internship 2.5%
Faculty 2.5%
Volunteer 2.0%
Artist 1.8%
Assistant 1.8%

Do you work as an Accompanist?

Accompanist Demographics

Gender

Female

50.8%

Male

33.3%

Unknown

15.9%
Ethnicity

White

61.4%

Asian

14.3%

Hispanic or Latino

11.7%

Black or African American

9.5%

Unknown

3.0%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

22.3%

French

15.1%

German

12.0%

Chinese

10.8%

Korean

9.0%

Russian

6.6%

Italian

6.0%

Mandarin

4.8%

Japanese

4.2%

Cantonese

1.8%

Hebrew

1.2%

Tagalog

1.2%

Portuguese

0.6%

Serbian

0.6%

Lithuanian

0.6%

Czech

0.6%

Macedonian

0.6%

Norwegian

0.6%

Bulgarian

0.6%

Polish

0.6%
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Accompanist Education

Schools

Berklee College of Music

11.6%

Michigan State University

6.8%

New York University

6.3%

University of North Texas

6.3%

Manhattan School of Music

5.8%

University of Cincinnati

5.3%

University of California - Los Angeles

4.8%

Florida State University

4.8%

Bob Jones University

4.3%

Northwestern University

4.3%

Kent State University

4.3%

University of Arizona

4.3%

Brigham Young University

3.9%

University of North Carolina at Greensboro

3.9%

Temple University

3.9%

University of Texas at Austin

3.9%

Cleveland Institute of Music

3.9%

Northern Illinois University

3.9%

Liberty University

3.9%

University of Southern California

3.9%
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Majors

Music

58.3%

General Education, Specific Areas

12.7%

Music Performance

3.8%

Business

3.5%

Education

3.2%

Elementary Education

2.8%

Rehabilitation Science

2.3%

Writing

1.7%

English

1.5%

Psychology

1.5%

Fine Arts

1.3%

Accounting

1.3%

Photography

0.9%

Law

0.8%

Entertainment Business

0.7%

Liberal Arts

0.7%

Community Organization And Advocacy

0.7%

Theatre

0.7%

Health Care Administration

0.7%

Theology

0.7%
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Degrees

Bachelors

38.9%

Masters

28.4%

Other

20.5%

Doctorate

6.0%

Certificate

2.5%

Associate

2.5%

Diploma

1.1%

License

0.1%
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Job type you want
Full Time
Part Time
Internship
Temporary
Average Yearly Salary
$43,000
View Detailed Salary Report
$29,000
Min 10%
$43,000
Median 50%
$43,000
Median 50%
$43,000
Median 50%
$43,000
Median 50%
$43,000
Median 50%
$43,000
Median 50%
$43,000
Median 50%
$63,000
Max 90%
Best Paying Company
KSYM RADIO
Highest Paying City
Columbus, GA
Highest Paying State
Minnesota
Avg Experience Level
4.2 years
How much does an Accompanist make at top companies?
The national average salary for an Accompanist in the United States is $43,487 per year or $21 per hour. Those in the bottom 10 percent make under $29,000 a year, and the top 10 percent make over $63,000.

Real Accompanist Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Accompanist The Colburn School Los Angeles, CA Oct 01, 2011 $93,915
Accompanist Hoff-Barthelson Scarsdale, NY Dec 01, 2011 $68,871
Accompanist Hoff-Barthelson Music School Scarsdale, NY Dec 01, 2011 $68,871
Accompanist Hoff-Barthelson Music School Scarsdale, NY Nov 30, 2010 $66,784
Piano Accompanist Cornell College Mount Vernon, IA Sep 01, 2010 $57,017
Accompanist II California State University, Fresno Fresno, CA Dec 22, 2015 $55,164
Accompanist II California State University, Fresno Fresno, CA Dec 01, 2015 $54,262
Staff Accompanist Stephen F. Austin State University Nacogdoches, TX Jan 03, 2016 $54,129
Senior Accompanist Texas Tech University Lubbock, TX Jun 01, 2015 $53,560
Accompanist II California State University, Fresno Fresno, CA Jan 08, 2016 $49,200
Staff Accompanist Stephen F. Austin State University Nacogdoches, TX Mar 01, 2013 $48,067
Ballet Accompanist Loyola University of New Orleans New Orleans, LA Sep 02, 2010 $46,958
Staff Accompanist Stephen F. Austin State University Nacogdoches, TX Mar 01, 2010 $46,667
Lecturer In Piano/Accompanist Wake Forest University (Reynolda Campus) Winston-Salem, NC Apr 10, 2009 $42,654
Vocal and Instrumental Accompanist Northern Kentucky University Highland Heights, KY Nov 14, 2010 $41,740
Accompanist II California State University, San Bernardino San Bernardino, CA Jan 01, 2014 $40,200
Accompanist II (Piano) California State University, Long Beach Long Beach, CA Apr 01, 2015 $40,008
Senior Accompanist Texas Tech University Lubbock, TX Aug 01, 2012 $40,000
Choir Accompanist The Great Love Presbyterian Church IL Jun 01, 2016 $37,500
Staff (Piano) Accompanist Georgia College and State University Milledgeville, GA Oct 01, 2011 $36,171
Staff (Piano) Accompanist Georgia College and State University Milledgeville, GA Nov 01, 2011 $36,171
Staff Accompanist The Administrators of The Tulane Endowment Fund New Orleans, LA Jul 01, 2011 $35,970
Staff Piano Accompanist Northern Arizona University Flagstaff, AZ Aug 15, 2010 $34,667
Staff Accompanist Northwestern State University of Louisiana Natchitoches, LA Dec 15, 2012 $34,667
Music Accompanist Texas A&M University College Station, TX Jan 08, 2016 $33,162
Piano Accompanist Sam Houston State University Huntsville, TX Jul 20, 2009 $33,000

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Top Skills for An Accompanist

  1. Piano Performance
  2. Class Activities
  3. Adult Choir
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Accompany the choir Handbells Orchestra Small vocal groups Production of a concert each summer Skills Used Piano performance skills Patience
  • Accompanied the praise worship and adult choir under the direction of Dr. Joseph Yune.
  • Accompanied choir and ensemble every Sunday and weekly contemporary worship
  • Play musical instruments as soloist.
  • Accompanied solo singers during rehearsals and competitions.

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Top 10 Best States for Accompanists

  1. Minnesota
  2. Texas
  3. Georgia
  4. New Jersey
  5. Wisconsin
  6. Iowa
  7. Washington
  8. Rhode Island
  9. South Carolina
  10. Massachusetts
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