Nov 5 2009, 09:16 AM
Hi All- have searched through the forums and the last discussion on this was from a few years back so wondered what your thoughts are on the topic now...
For the past few years I've been accompanying kids in their ABRSM exams (mostly low grades) and have been paid different fees normally depending on the teacher. To include a practice and the actual day this has ranged from £5 (too low!) to £25 (in my book, too high). Recently, I've been asking a flat rate of £20 to cover a half hour rehearsal (including aural tests) and the exam itself.
Is this reasonable? I spoke to a friend the other day who is doing some accompanying and he said it seemed far too much seeing as the grade one exam is only £29. I'm now a bit confused and don't know what to ask for this time round.
What do you all charge?
Nov 5 2009, 09:31 AM
I started accompanying a couple of terms ago and as a newbie to the scene I was also unsure what to charge. However, the woodwind teacher who I accompany for suggested that £25 was suitable for rehearsal and exam regardless of the grade (which is what the previous accompanist had charged).
I don't know if this helps at all - but you do have to sit down and learn the music as well so really altogether you're working for more than an hour anyway and I think £25 is quite reasonable.
Nov 5 2009, 09:31 AM
I had a Special Visit on Tuesday. My accompanist (well qualified, local ISM chairman, in great demand) charges £25 per candidate, regardless of grade, which covers a 15 minute rehearsal for the three accompanied songs for grades 1-5, a 30 minute rehearsal for the four accompanied songs and some aural tests for grades 6-8, and the exam itself. He travels 25 miles each way for both rehearsal and exam session.
You might feel that he should charge more for the higher grades or less for the lower grades, but everyone is happy with this arrangement. If he has to travel further for fewer candidates then his fee will reflect this. On one occasion he had to travel 75 miles each way for one candidate (grade 8 TG - no local centre) and his fee was £70 (the candidate went to his home for the 30 minute rehearsal). The candidate was delighted with this.
I should add that the flat fee of £25 has been the same for several years and everyone thinks this is very reasonable. I think the candidates/parents are prepared to pay this because they know the accompanist so well now, as he plays for our two students concerts every year and our festival entries as well as the exams, that most won't consider another one and would happily pay more just to have him. He does charge less than others (not so good) in my area. A good accompanist can really lift the performance, and is well worth paying the going rate for.
Whatever you do, don't undersell yourself - if you get popular, it will be more difficult to increase the fee and you may feel underpaid - and take into consideration your travelling time and expenses. It's up to you, not the teacher, how much you charge - I always ask, not presume, someone's fees.
Nov 5 2009, 12:36 PM
I've not done a lot of exam accompanying but I charge £25.
This covers 2 rehearsals and sometimes these involve a little more teaching than you might expect as students can arrive with unstable rhythm and no idea of phrasing.
I may need to cover some aural too. Extra sessions I charge at my usual teaching rate.
For the time I put in I know that my fee is low but I don't want to go so high that parents want to pull their children out of instrument tuition.
Nov 5 2009, 12:47 PM
Our school accompanist used to charge less if he had more than one candidate playing the same music on each session. That's easier to do if you are accompanying a batch of students, I suppose, but his thinking was that if everyone played B:2 then he only had to learn that once. I wouldn't compare it to the cost of the grade, though, unless it reflects the time required to prepare the material. One of my grade 8 pieces had a tremendously tricky piano part and we went through several accompanists trying to get someone who would take it on, so we paid a premium for that one. Does the examiner attend a rehearsal? No, so it's not the same service that is being offered. Pick a price you are happy with and decide if there are any pieces that require a supplement and take it from there. You can always offer discounts for teachers entering a lot of pupils who will all book you as a batch and rehearse at your convenience all together, but if you start out at a rate you are happy with it's easier to come down and justify why you did that on each occasion.
Nov 5 2009, 03:59 PM
I only accompany my own pupils so rehearsal is done in the lesson. I then charge a flat fee equivalent to a half hour lesson to accompany (this is currently £15) - this is the same for all grades 1 - 8 - the whole thing is then really simple and I've had no complaints. Since I've been teaching ages and always had loads of pupils I would estimate I've accompanied around 800 pupils on this basis.
Nov 5 2009, 04:07 PM
Thanks guys- sounds like I'll stick to my original price
Parents haven't complained ever before about paying £20 and some even try to pay me twice- £20 for the rehearsal and £20 for the exam and are amazed when I say one payment covers everything!
Nov 5 2009, 05:25 PM
I charge my hourly rate for any rehearsals and then a set exam fee for each grade (grades 1-5) for attending the exam. Obviously if there's further distance to travel I would increase the exam fee. It shouldn't matter how much the actual grade exam cost the student to enter as they are paying for your time. So if that involves a 30 minute rehearsal and then a further half hour in travelling to and attending the exam then it would be around £20 (going by the average fee of £20 per hour).
Nov 5 2009, 05:38 PM
I debated this for a long time and came to the decision to charge a flat rate of £10 for any grade. I have, however, only accompanied up to grade 4, and I've only ever accompanied my own students. Because of this, rehearsal time is included in their normal lessons, so I don't want to charge extra for it. I've got some pupils who will be doing grade 5 later on in the year and I'm trying to decide whether to put the fee up slightly, purely because the piano parts are going to take longer to learn.
Nov 5 2009, 06:10 PM
I have had parents complain about the cost of an accompanist at the early grades, but as others have said, there can be quite a bit of sorting out rhythms and so on to do. I have some sympathy for parents who are suddenly faced with an extra bill, but they should be warned of this before the exam entry goes in. I always run exam candidates through aural tests for their grade as well. I do charge a little more for the higher grades, to reflect the need for longer rehearsals. I charge for my time, not for the grade level, as the input required can be just as onerous, whatever the grade.
Nov 5 2009, 09:32 PM
I only accompany my own pupils, as I'm not primarily a pianist. Most of their rehearsal time is therefore part of their normal lessons, and I charge them £10 for accompanying on the day. I used to not charge at all, but I usually have to cancel or rearrange work, and find money for nursery costs, so now I do.
Nov 5 2009, 11:27 PM
I too only accompany my own pupils, but don't charge at all.
Nov 6 2009, 07:51 AM
My accompanisit charges Grade 1-3 £12.50 which includes 1 practice. Any more practices are charged at £5 and are at her house. Grade 4 and 5 are £20 I think and includes 2 practices and Grade 6-8 is more! Now we use my house for a standard visit , she has very little travelling and most of the teachers she accompanies for are using my house so that makes it easier as the exams are all at the same time (ish) and on the same day or days. She teaches piano in one of the same schools as I teach, so those pupils have the practise at her house.
My daughter's violin teaches usually accompanies her pupils- she charges if she is out of pocket (as she doesn't get paid if she has to miss school time). Seems fair enough. In the summer, we could ensure that her exams were after school ish as we had 1 1/2 days of standard visit but we can't this time as this we only have 1/2 day.
Nov 6 2009, 08:29 AM
Interesting replies - an accompanist should not have to sort out rhythm problems, etc.
- the candidate should be fully prepared by the teacher BEFORE the rehearsal. Our rehearsals are purely for the singer and accompanist to set tempo, practice any rubato and dynamic changes (which for singers are not always what is written, especially if the song is strophic and verse words are written underneath each other!) and achieve any nuances, etc. They are NOT for learning purposes i.e. it is not a lesson for the candidate, even though I always attend the rehearsal (well, don't have a choice as it's in my house!
), making notes to cover in the final lesson before the exam. It's a good chance for me to observe how they perform whilst not having to accompany. If anyone can't make the rehearsal - and it would have to be an exceptional reason - they have to make their own arrangements with the accompanist and go to his house - and I won't be there (we live 25 miles apart). I don't charge for this rehearsal time, even though I may have to cancel up to 6 x 45 minute lessons - it's factored into my lessons fees.
Our accompanist sight reads every piece - he doesn't get them in advance, even the most complicated grade 8 pieces, and they are 99% perfectly played. He may occasionally take home a copy of a single page if it has a tricky passage, to practice before the exam. So - for his £25 he's not having to learn music, even though he frequently hasn't seen it before. That means that for the lower grades he's paid £25 for say, 20 minutes playing time, 45 minutes for the higher grades. But what we're paying for is his years of experience that means he is able to do this, not to mention his travelling time of one and three quarter hours twice, plus petrol. Yes, you pay for their time, but the more experienced an accompanist is, the more you expect to pay, especially if it lifts the performance and they can seamlessly cover up if the candidate makes a mistake, which all accompanists should be able to do.
It's an individual thing really - my students and parents say they would pay double the price for this accompanist because he make everyone feel so relaxed that they feel they are going into the exam with a friend - another important thing to consider when choosing someone to accompany. There's more to it than playing the notes.
Nov 6 2009, 08:49 AM
As a student here...
When I last did exams, at school, an accompanist was provided. We didn't get a rehersal, but the week beforehand we'd get a meeting where the intro would be played and we'd be asked if that was about the right speed; and then we'd have maybe a couple of goes of the intro, and of any entries later if there were bits where there was a long-ish rest.
The lady who did the piano playing, she was a piano teacher but not a peri; she didnt' teach at our school. She was a parent of one of the boys in our school though. I don't know that we got charged for this, I know my mum would send a cheque in at exam time, but whether this was just the exam fee or if we had a pianist fee on top of it, I have no idea.
Now, paying for my own musical adventures, I know that the rate my teacher charges is the same as his partner charges - and she is the piano and singing teacher (it's a great house - singing and piano lessons downstairs, woodwind and guitar upstairs!) So I'd just expect to pay for her time at the same rate.
Nov 6 2009, 10:12 AM
I agree, David. I've had some absolute horrors to deal with when accompanying for others!
I do charge my own pupes but at a reduction - this goes towards covering me for work I have to cancel in order to attend the exam. For outsiders I charge my normal hourly rate for rehearsal plus a small fee for the day. I enjoy accompanying but this is how I earn my living and therefore I charge. I also accompany for pupes at school - the charging structure for this varies from school to school.
Nov 6 2009, 01:06 PM
QUOTE(dcmbarton @ Nov 6 2009, 09:48 AM)
QUOTE(AnnC @ Nov 6 2009, 08:29 AM)
Interesting replies - an accompanist should not have to sort out rhythm problems, etc.
- the candidate should be fully prepared by the teacher BEFORE the rehearsal. Our rehearsals are purely for the singer and accompanist to set tempo, practice any rubato and dynamic changes (which for singers are not always what is written, especially if the song is strophic and verse words are written underneath each other!) and achieve any nuances, etc.
Totally agree with you Ann, but from experience of accompanying some other teacher's candidates, there's an awful lot to be ironed out in the rehearsals (which is partly why I stipulate two rehearsals) - I could just ignore these problems but I wouldn't feel very comfortable with that, even though I know it isn't my job.
I'm with David on this.
This sort of teaching is wrapped up in the guise of advising how to play with an accompaniment.
It can be a little annoying when you see the mark sheet and know that the teacher is taking credit for the work you've done on their behalf though.
Nov 8 2009, 12:31 PM
Years ago I took Grade 6 on the recorder. I had no one available to accompany except my star 10 year old piano pupil. He didn't charge me!
Nov 11 2009, 02:00 PM
Having just had an email request out of the blue to accompany a grade 5 saxophone exam, this thread was of particular interest, as previously I've only done accompanying accompanying for university exams, where there's an agreed fee with the music department, and the occasional ABRSM exam for friends, so many thanks to everyone for sharing your experiences and practices.
Nov 11 2009, 11:04 PM
I charge 30.00 for an hour or 15.00 per half hour rehearsal for lower grades and 15.00 for the exam whichever grade it is. I have never had a problem.
Nov 12 2009, 01:13 PM
My son took Grade 5 violin last year and the accompanist charged us £50!! This included a 20 min rehearsal and perhaps 10 mins playing in the exam. He was a new accompanist to us but had been used by the violin teacher before. Even she was shocked by the charge. She had anticiapted £25 which is what I had turned up to the rehearsal with. I had to take the rest to the exam. We certainly won't use him again, despite him being very good as we just felt totally ripped off. The next time my son needed an accompanist his friend's dad played with him, didn't want payment and just accepted a home-made fruit loaf as a thankyou. Not that I'm saying accompanists shouldn't get paid but £50 is really taking the biscuit. The teacher had entered 5 pupils that time and he accompanied all of them. Nice little earner for him... Still it was a lesson learned for us, always always check the fees before agreeing to accompanist!
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