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Richard Black

   Professional Membership Status
There are lots of piano players offering to accompany you. Here is a check list to consider:

Good player - obviously fundamental. I'm not Martha Argerich or Marc-André Hamelin, but I can play to a good enough standard to get favourable comment from colleagues, critics and audience at any venue. Judge for yourself - samples available under the 'Audio' and 'Videos' tabs above.

Good accompanist - quite separate from actual piano-playing ability, an accompanist must be sensitive to what the other(s) in the partnership might do, and react suitably to it. I believe I'm very good at this and my high proportion of repeat bookings suggests I'm not deluding myself.

Good sight-reader and quick learner - realistically, my sight-reading is about as good as it gets. There's more to sight-reading than just playing the notes, and I always aim to give a performance, especially for instance in auditions where someone's career may depend on my playing of a piece I've never seen before. Unusually, I've included a sample of this also in 'Audio' (it's the Handel). Some pieces simply are not realistically sight-readable to performance standard, but if I need to learn some fistful of notes in a hurry I'll knuckle down and do it. Again, there's a recorded example of this - the piece by Michael Maxwell Steer on my 'Videos' page, which I learned from scratch in just over a week.

Experienced - I've played in practically every sort of situation imaginable. As a result, I have a huge repertoire and am also familiar with different scenarios such as auditions, exams, formal concerts, informal entertainments, recordings and more. I've played all sorts of pianos for all sorts of people. It takes a lot to faze me!

Reliable - I'm not claiming I never make mistakes, but if I say I'm going to turn up and play, I do (exception recently - due to a minor road traffic accident I ended up booking a dep for a gig from my hospital bed). Without becoming a robot, I try to perform as we rehearsed, and I don't get nervous and unpredictable in stressful situations.

Helpful - having worked with so many different voices and instruments for so long, I've acquired at least some knowledge of how they work and am often able to offer useful practical advice. I can also help advising on repertoire and can give quite detailed coaching including, for singers, basic language coaching in English (obviously!), French, German and Italian. I am also pretty good at transposing and will always try to find the right key for a song if the printed one doesn't suit you.

Keen - I do this because I enjoy it. I love rehearsing and will only 'watch the clock' if I've someone else waiting (which does often happen, after all). As far as I'm concerned there are two standards, 'good' and 'unacceptable'. Whether it's the Hindemith tuba sonata for a first-year undergraduate (which is what I happened to be practising before writing this) or songs for a Wigmore Hall recital, I take pride in the job.

Affordable - you can find people charging a lot more than I do. I make a point of keeping rates modest.
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