|My latest vocalist crush|
Recently a parent contacted me about teaching her daughter to play by chords in order to accompany herself while singing. I was excited to get back to this parent to say, yes, I would be delighted to teach that. Playing by chords really enhances a vocalist's performing ability and versatility, not to mention pure enjoyment. For one thing, the ability to transpose an accompaniment to your vocal range in a matter of minutes. Also, how it accelerates learning any music- useful for anyone!
Many musicians will tell you accompanying a singer is a labor of sheer love - a lot of love. Honestly I believe being an accompanist for a singer is one of the most harrowing jobs of an instrumentalist. Not so when a vocalist accompanies himself. And not so much when a vocalist is also a proficient instrumentalist. The latter person is the best equipped to be a vocalist's accompanist.
As I talk to prospective students and their parents, I think more about explaining why I teach playing by chords and ear, not just by note reading like most teachers, and how remarkably effective this teaching method is - after all, it's old as Bach. More on this next time....