Working with an accompanist – whether that be a guitarist or a pianist, in a duo situation is another skill you need to add to your list.

Many questions singers have about this include:

  • Do I need to count in?
  • What does the accompanist expect me to do on a gig?
  • Do I need sheet music?
  • How do I book an accompanist?

Fortunately, I have bought in-demand guitarist accompanist Rick Webster onto the show to explain exactly how a singer should work with an accompanist and hopefully we answer all of your questions.

Example of a good chart as mentioned in the video


Rick and I performing together – so you can check out his amazing guitar accompaniment skills.VIDEO SUMMARY

QU 1 – In your eyes, what makes a singer GOOD? Is it her voice or how prepared she is or something else – take us through what goes through your mind when you work with a new singer for the first time?

  • Preparedness makes a huge difference: how well she knows her songs, how neat her charts are.
  • It mainly comes down to whether we have a good connection.

Qu 2 – What do you expect a singer to do? i.e count in … How does it feel when they don’t do this?

  • Counting in is definitely required – so I can play at the right tempo (speed)

Qu 3 – What is your biggest pet peeve when you work with a singer?

  • If a singer, or any musician is disrespectful on a gig. Its all about attitude.

Qu 4– Have you ever been on a gig and absolutely hated it? Was it because of the singer or for some other reason?

  • Its not usually the singer. Its usually the situation and how the singer handles a bad situation for example.

Qu5 – In a band situation now, what would you expect a singer to do?

  • The singer needs to let me know how long I can solo for.
  • The band looks to the singer to end the song.

Qu6 – When a singer wants to book you for a gig what should she say? What kind of info do you want to know in advance?

  • Give me as much information as possible. I want to know dress code, set times, how much the pay is, parking info, whether there are charts, what kind of music. As much info as you can give me.

QU7 – How important is the music – i.e the charts you are given? Do you feel this is a skill the singer needs to know? (is this just jazz or other genres?)

  • Clearly written charts are important. Its best to have the chords, melody and lyrics written on them in a laid out structure (ie use bars) . Not just lyrics with chords over the top. – See below for chart example.

Qu8 – Any other tips for singer’s who might be working with an accompanist in a duo for the first time?

  •  If you are inexperienced, don’t be afraid to let the accompanist know because they will often help you out. Noone expects you to know everything and if you do by chance have a bad experience with an accompanist, don’t let it get to you. There are nice ones out there!



Rick Webster he is one of Australia’s most in demand guitar accompanists he performs most nights of the week in all styles from jazz guitar through to contemporary, rock, funk – you name it, he can do it.  He has supported artists including Hank Marvin, Daryl Braithwaite, Thirsty Merc, Mark Seymore and Ruby Rose and he’s performed with Il Divo. He has released several EPs and albums of his own original material and won the John Lennon International Songwriting competition last year for his work. Plus id have to say that he is one of the nicest guys in the Australian music scene.


You can check out Rick’s work on his website HERE.


If you have any other questions about working with an accompanist or if you have something to add, please leave me a comment below.


Nicola xx

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