Accompanists: HS Accompanist terms of employment
Thanks to all who replied to my question. Many listers asked for a
compilation of responses. Here ?ya go. Happy summer, everyone!
[Three telephone conversations. School #1: accompanist is a budget item
of $14,000/year. Works about 20 hours/wk (a) $20/hour. School #2:
Accompanist is a full-time paraprofessional position. School #3:
Accompanist is a 4/10 faculty position.]
I think my daughter's high school paid one of the mothers (who is a
superb musician), probably less than professional rate but good for
When I was in high school, we used one of the highly talented
piano-playing students. I don't think she got paid, but in this day
and age I would assume the accompanist would be paid -- it is not a
trivial assignment! Or perhaps he/she should get academic credit for
You might also look into one of the nearby colleges (does Baypath still
exist?) to see if a music major is available. Seems like you could
make a case for the student getting credit for a performing music
internship (like practice teaching but in performance).
Our accompanists have always been independent contractors, submitting
invoices every couple weeks, or every month according to their
preferences. I built money into the annual budget in the same category
that other departments might use consultants. For oiur purposes, this
has been preferrable to actually having an employee position. In NY
state, any position would have to be approved by the board of ed. as
would any one hired to fill a position. This would very likely mean
having to go to battle again every couple years because it would look
like an easy position to be cut when the annual budget battle takes
By keeping this line "buried" in the budget, it is more likely that in
a difficult year the department might be asked to find a way to cut a
certain percentage, and there are always little ways to transfer funds
between accounts, etc. so that you can make this work, but it isn't one
of those "We've cut x number of positions and saved the district x
number of dollars." headliners. Another very important benefit to this
system, is that if you need another accompanist, or a sub, you are free
to call anyone, have that person submit an invoice for the specific
time you needed the additional or substitute accompanist, you don't
have to go to the board and have a new person "hired." The benefit to
the school district is that they don't have to pay benefits or social
security, they don't have to go through all the human resources
We pay accompanists approximately $20.00 per hour. From time to time
when it has been necessary to get someone who wouldn't work for that, I
was able to pay more. I was only limited by the fact that whenever
budget code xx-xxxx-xxx was empty, it was empty.
I have a high school and a middle school choral program, and I hire the
same accompanist for both. Unfortunately, my school does not consider
an accompanist a valid use of district funds, so she is paid by my two
Booster organizations (middle and high school). She charges $30 per
hour for rehearsal time with the choirs, plus $100 for a concert. This
means that for each concert, she usually is paid around $300. Many of
the schools in this area have staff accompanists, which is obviously
the desirable situation. I'm hoping to find a way to convince the
administration that this is crucial, but we're currently cutting
budgets, so it's not likely in the near future! Good luck with finding
funding for your accompanist!
We had a paid accompanist for the first time last year. What a
blessing! She worked for all the choirs grades 5-12 from 7:30 a.m. (I
know, too early :-( )to1:00 p.m. daily and she was paid $20 per hour as
an external contract employee of the school board. That means she was
self-employed and worked for the school board on an hourly basis. She
was paid by the school
board and no monies were taken from music budgets. She filled out a
time sheet every two weeks. She was also paid for the evening
Hi! I am a full-time accompanist for my High School. . .at least that
is how the position started! I also teach several class periods a day
of piano in our recently installed music tech/piano lab. I am also an
assistant in the music department, mainly to the choral director. Our
HS is about 850 and around 350-400 of those kids are involved in the
music department in some way. Some of my other responsibilities
include handling uniforms, taking care of fundraisers, and
record-keeping. These duties were a choice by me because along with my
degree in piano and piano pedagogy I also have a minor (and huge
interest) in business and administration.
My school pays me as a paraprofessional for the school day. I am
currently in the process of finishing up my teaching licensing for the
state of Indiana so that I can be compensated for the classes that I am
teaching. My rate of pay outside of the school day is increased to
$15/hr for any rehearsals, performances, etc. This also includes my
time traveling with various groups as well. My paraprofessional rate
is somewhere around $10-12/hr. I know that that does not sound like
much at all, and it isn't, but I work in a school district where nearly
50% of our kids are on free and reduced lunches and books. If I play
anywhere in the community, my starting rate is usually at least
$75/hr. The school system simply can't afford to pay those type of
fees. . .and truthfully, my compensation for the most part is the role
I play with the kids each and every day. I love them dearly and can't
imagine working anywhere else!
My accompanist is paid as a Technical Assistant, much like the computer
techs in our system (that was the analogy I used.) It is a highly
skilled position.. took me forever to get that change in. Before, the
position was paid as a para-professional/classroom aide. TA is a
higher scale, I think it
ranges from $9 to $14 per hour based on experience and tenure.
Perhaps the accompanist aspect could be combined with a
Arts secretary position to make it a full time position...?
Unfortunately the hours are capped at 29.75 because 30 hours would
increased benefits (read that full insurance :( ) I am allowed to
work with her re: hours and 'flex time.' Funding is from central
office support staff salary budget, for us each building is allocated X
number of support staff, so the Principal has to be willing.
I pay some of her extra evening hours from my extra-curricular account
solo contest, community run outs etc. She submits claims to the
office for the "required activities" such as concerts, organizational
contest, graduation etc. She also donates a ton of time because she
feels like a valued part of our team.
Our musical is contracted separately so she can play or not play that
as she chooses from year to year. This might be a way to attract some
Several points for your rationale: 1. You are hired to
listen/guide/conduct NOT to play piano....this allows you to focus on
your primary job. 2. What are your numbers? Our system gives a
second staff member when we go over 65 in a class. An accompanist is
less expensive that another teacher! 3. Just the idea of "crowd
control" if you have 80 freshman girls should be logical and
educationally understandable to most administrators. 4. Less young
people take piano (besides, they signed up to learn how to sing, not
play piano.) 5. It is detrimental educationally for the difficulty of
the accompaniment to preclude specific literature from which to choose.
6. Does your Athletic Department have a secretary (there should, they
need one?) Music is an equally public, active part of every school and
deserves equal treatment.
My accompanist has been with me at Memorial for 20 years. She is 4
hours short of a teaching degree (major was ACCOMPANYING!!!) We work
together. She is another set of ears in the rehearsal! We can do
sectionals efficiently. If I am out for any reason I know "stuff" will
get done regardless of whether the sub is a 'music person' or not. She
works with individual students during seminar period, before and after
school. I am fortunate because over the years she has just kind of
taken over the costuming end of things and also does the financial
records (she is very computer literate and is a regional manager for HR
Block in her other job!) She types well and does the "pretty"
correspondence for me also.
There are two of us; the other woman plays for the middle school on an
as needed basis and plays for two junior high choirs. She does 2 hours
of rehearsal every day and two main concerts a year. Her pay is $9.44
an hour. She's been doing this for approximately 6 years.
I play for the high school. We do four major performances a year along
with a variety show, renaissance feast, contests and competitions
(usually 2-3 of these a year). There are three choirs (three hours of
rehearsal daily), a joint rehearsal for two hours one evening a week,
along with rehearsals with several soloists and small ensembles. When
competitions are out of town or state, the school pays for my room, the
time I spend on the bus/in the car, and meals. I make $9.44 an hour as
well. One of the choirs is the "top" ensemble which does an average of
15-20 performances by themselves throughout the year. I believe I made
around $5,000 last year. I enjoy doing it as the director is
excellent, his choirs are excellent, and it keeps me playing (I teach
full time at the University here).
Both of us are classified as classroom aides. Our state's budget being
what it is, there is a possibility that the junior high position will
be cut and the choirs will have to spend part of their fundraising
money to pay for me to accompany at the high school (the HS choirs have
a very impressive reputation; the director refuses to do without an
Before the money was available for "choir aides", he (the director,
Jeff Sandquist) had to rely on volunteers. Having a professional
accompanist really helps him, and the choir, with rehearsals.
I will tell you of a situation that has worked well at our school. We
are a 3A school in northern Missouri with a student body of about
400. The High School teacher and I share a room. I teach middle
school vocal music. Our schedules are arranged so that I am the
accompanist for her choirs and she is the accompanist for mine. Yes,
we are both in the classes at the same time everyday. We paid an
accompanist $20,540 a few years ago. A first year teacher in Mo. at
our school is about $23,000. Not much difference and you get a whole
lot more. It allows to divide into sections and both teach. It works
like team teaching. Have to lay a few ground rules, but I prefer this
situation over a teacher/accompanist plan any day.
Our High School Choral Department has a part time para-professional
position. This para position is a level II job (meaning that it is a
skilled position), and has a wage of somewhere around $15-$17. It is
15 hours a week, which is the difficult part. It is enough hours to be
decent pay, but not enough to be a solid part time job. But, I have
had a wonderfully talented man in the position for the last two years.
Unfortunately he is moving on and I am looking for someone else.
====;) Kayla Werlin
Longmeadow (Mass.) High School
Springfield Children's Chorus
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