NEC's new GD program, Collaborative Piano with Vocal Specialization (Opera Emphasis), is a 2-year course of study designed to cultivate and hone the skills and techniques that a pianist needs for a career as a vocal collaborator and opera pianist. Enrolled students will have weekly studio lessons in song and opera, language and diction courses, seminars in vocal coaching, orchestral reduction and playing techniques, and hands-on experience working with the NEC Opera department.
The existing graduate program in Collaborative Piano already provides a rich curriculum in vocal accompanying, and this new course of study builds upon that foundation and addresses the vast set of skills that a pianist needs while working in a professional opera house. Going beyond the demands of a one-on-one collaborative performance situation, these skills include:
- The ability to modify piano/vocal reductions to the pianist’s own ease of playability while emulating orchestral colors and providing support and necessary cues to singers;
- The ability to follow a conductor in rehearsals and performances, as well as the ability to conduct from the piano as needed;
- Familiarity with all major languages of the operatic repertoire, and the ability to speak and sing the text of a libretto with fluency and clarity;
- The ability to sing and play simultaneously, sing cues in rehearsals and coachings, and give timely prompting to a singer as needed;
- The ability to sing and coach recitatives;
- Techniques of realizing continuo parts for performance of recitatives;
- Familiarity with other keyboard instruments that may be needed in an orchestra;
- Fluency in reading orchestral scores and the ability to assist conductors in orchestral rehearsals;
- Finely honed sight-reading skills and the ability to collaborate with unfamiliar singers in audition situations.