The Staff Pianist program at Hamilton College is designed to enhance the solo performance/applied music experience for both student soloists and instructors, while also educating the student pianist in the art of playing and performing with other musicians. The program, which also includes professional pianists, is administered by the Coordinator of Staff Pianists and the Student Staff Pianist Coach.
Student staff pianists perform their duties by playing for private lessons and rehearsing with their assigned student performers. Auditions for staff pianists are held at the beginning of each academic year. Those students who are chosen are then assigned student performers, normally two to four. The staff pianist is expected to meet with each performer for one half-hour of lesson time and one half-hour of rehearsal weekly. The hourly wage for staff pianists is $9. They are also compensated for some practice time and are eligible for department lesson scholarships. Student staff pianists have one mandatory lesson (called a coaching) per semester with the Student Pianist Coach. Additional coachings are available upon request. Student staff pianists are sometimes called upon to perform with singers and/or instrumentalists in Musicales (non-auditioned), student recitals (audition required), or master classes. Student staff pianist payroll issues are handled by the Student Staff Pianist Coach.
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Certain situations (i.e. full or half recitals, scheduling conflicts, difficult music) require the services of a professional staff pianist. The Coordinator of Staff Pianists makes this decision, as well as chooses and hires the specific pianist. Except under very extraordinary circumstances, professional accompanists are assigned only to Solo Performance students because of the greater performance expectations of these students. The Music Department attempts to meet the needs for professional accompanists at a minimum cost to the students. In order to keep within budgetary limits, every effort will first be made to match student performers with appropriately competent student pianists, for which there is no time limit for hours used. Applied Music students may contract with the Coordinator of Staff Pianists to arrange for a professional accompanist at the rate of $30 per hour, though this option should be considered only in rare circumstances since student pianists are available for Applied Music students with no time limit.
If the services of a professional accompanist are required, there are limitations on the number of hours the college can underwrite. The following is a list of the number of professional accompanist hours a Solo Performance student may use in a given semester. This time includes practice with the accompanist, the accompanist’s presence at lessons, and the use of the accompanist in preparation for any public performances, including musicales, concert auditions, repertoire classes, and actual performance time. Students requiring the services of a professional accompanist beyond the allotted time allowance will need to contract with the college at the rate of $30 per hour; to make these arrangements, students need to consult with the Coordinator of Staff Pianists and sign the necessary contract.
• Solo Performance half hour lessons: up to 3 hours with no additional charge.
• Solo Performance one-hour lessons: up to 6 hours with no additional charge.
• Advanced Solo Performance one-hour lessons: up to 7 hours with no additional charge.
• Students preparing Half Recitals with departmental approval, who would necessarily be taking Advanced Solo Performance one-hour lessons: up to 8.5 hours with no additional charge for the semester in which the recital is scheduled.
• Students preparing Full Recitals with departmental approval, who would necessarily be taking Advanced Solo Performance one-hour lessons: up to 13 hours with no additional charge for the semester in which the recital is scheduled.Students may petition the department, with the consent of their studio instructor and the Coordinator of Staff Pianists, if additional hours of paid accompanying are necessary due to special circumstances (for example, a concerto performance).
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At the beginning of each semester the Coordinator will solicit a list of students needing a staff pianist from the studio instructors, which must be submitted not later than the 3rd week of lessons. Assignment of pianists to students will be based on the prioritization made by the teachers. Priority will be given to one-hour Solo Performance students. All scores must be submitted to the assigned pianist as soon as possible, but not later than the 5th week of lessons.
Any subsequent requests for staff pianists must be made by directly contacting the Coordinator. Every effort will be made to provide a pianist, but requests received after the 3rd week cannot be guaranteed coverage. For spring semester half recitals, full recitals, and musicales the student should submit piano scores to the Coordinator or the assigned staff pianist no later than the 10th lesson of the fall semester. The staff pianist will be prepared to begin rehearsals the second week of spring semester. For fall semester half recitals, full recitals, and musicales, the student must contact the Coordinator in writing, preferably by e-mail, no later than April 15th of the previous spring semester to establish appropriate guidelines. Insofar as is reasonably possible, the Coordinator will try to accommodate requests for assistance from teachers that arise from last-minute emergencies brought about by the absence of professional or student pianists.
Assignment of professional pianists to student performers shall be made by the Coordinator; assignment of student pianists to student performers shall be made by the Coordinator in consultation with the Student Pianist Coach. Any student who does not contact his/her staff pianist within two weeks of notification will lose his/her department granted paid hours for the assigned staff pianist. Any problems shall be resolved in consultation with the Coordinator.
Any singer or instrumentalist who fails to inform his/her student pianists of a canceled lesson or rehearsal shall be billed $8.25 by the music department for each subsequent occurrence. Should a professional pianist be involved the assessment shall be $30. Student performers must also be aware that frequent changes of lesson or rehearsal times can pose scheduling problems for pianists, and shall therefore hold such changes to a minimum. Should such requests for changes become excessive, it shall be within the discretion of pianists to decide whether or not they wish to honor the request.
PLEASE NOTE: A Musicale performer must contact his/her accompanist not less than one week prior to the Musicale. The accompanist must have been present for at least one lesson so that the student/accompanist joint performance may be reviewed by the teacher. Students who miss these deadlines will not be permitted to perform.
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1) Staff Pianists shall not under any circumstances be expected to teach notes to singers. Singers who do not read music well are encouraged to sign up for beginning piano lessons.
2) Legible music scores for staff pianists will be provided by the student. Student soloists must ensure that their pianists are playing from purchased copies. Any student who arrives at an audition with photoduplicated music, and who cannot demonstrate that a copy has already been placed on order, shall be disqualified from the audition. Student performers and Staff Pianists should read the guidelines on photocopying music and copyright issues.
3) Neither a teacher nor a student shall ask a pianist to locate and withdraw music from the College Library.
4) No pianist will be expected by either teacher or student to perform at a lesson music that was not supplied by the student at least one week in advance of the lesson.
5) No pianist will be expected by the teacher to sight-read for a lesson. A teacher can ask a staff pianist to sight-read at the lesson; the pianist may honor or refuse the request.
6) Student pianists will arrive at lessons promptly and with the music prepared. If the student staff pianist is experiencing difficulty in learning the music, the teacher is expected to advise the student staff pianist to seek coachings with the Student Pianist Coach.
7) When working in lessons on matters concerned with technique, pianists will perform at the pleasure of the teacher, starting and stopping as required.
8) When preparing for performance, the teacher will give attention during the lesson to the pianist as well. There shall be a give-and-take on matters of interpretation between student, pianist, and teacher, with the teacher serving as authority.
9) The Coordinator has the authority to withdraw a staff pianist from any situation in which the student soloist is not fulfilling his or her obligations.
10) Any problem that may arise concerning professional staff pianists should be addressed to the Coordinator. Any problem that may arise concerning student staff pianists should be addressed to the Student Staff Pianist Coach.
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