Learning to accompany

Wednesday 1 February 2017, 4.00PM

Speaker(s): Dr Elizabeth Haddon (University of York)

This paper explores primary data gathered from selected university music students working as accompanists with peer instrumentalists. While many undergraduate pianists have considerable skill as solo players, they can enter higher music education lacking experience in duo playing, accompanying and ensemble work. Furthermore, they may feel unconfident thus reluctant to participate. Therefore, there is a need for educators to encourage students to engage in accompaniment activities (both formal and informal), and also for enhanced understanding of the needs of novice accompanists – how do students learn to accompany? What are the challenges; what are the rewards, and what skills do accompanists need to develop?


This seminar presents the perspectives of student pianists learning to accompany peer instrumentalists at a UK university. Data, collected from undergraduate students and from staff, reveals perspectives on students’ learning needs, highlighting the perceived demands of the situation, strategies adopted in practising and within collaborative rehearsal and performance, and how this learning can influence students’ self-view and development as pianists. The findings are relevant to the provision and orientation of institutional instrumental learning but also have application to independent instrumental learning.

Elizabeth Haddon LRSM studied Music at the University of York, returning to teach piano in 1997 while also enjoying freelance work including instrumental teaching, Western and non-Western performance, workshop leading and music administration. From 2006-2008 Liz was Research Officer at the University of York for the ESRC-funded research project Investigating Musical Performance. Her subsequent research has focused on instrumental and vocal pedagogy, the music master class, hidden learning, empathy and partnership in piano duet playing, and creativity, and her published output includes three books, numerous journal articles and book chapters. Liz devised and leads the MA in Music Education at the University of York, a programme specifically developed for instrumental and vocal teachers.

Location: Sally Baldwin D Block D003