GUEST BLOG: "Stop Teaching Karoke," by Carl J Ferrara
Date: October 9, 2012
STOP TEACHING KARAOKE ~ by Carl J Ferrara
I’ve had many arguments with administrators and fellow teachers about the use of pre-recorded accompaniment. Many believe it’s a cheap, easy, and convenient alternative to hiring an accompanist. Purchase of a recording saves you money over the hourly fee charged by most pianists. It is also a godsend for conductors who lack significant piano skills. Just press play, and your choir sounds like it’s singing with a full orchestra. Plus, having a drum beat and electric guitar DOES make those pop music arrangements sound less cheesy and simplistic.
But for all the superficial benefits of recorded accompaniments, what do you lose? Instead of feeling the music, and letting that natural emotion guide the tempo, caesura and dynamics of the piece; students are racing to fit their text into the given span of time dictated by the recording. In short, the recording controls your performance, not the performer. Through adjustment of dynamic elements, students can explore different artistic effects.
A live accompanist doesn’t skip, or break down like a CD does; and they can make adjustments in volume for blend, or recover from a late or early entrance. I’ve seen many absolute disasters happen in performances, thanks to problems with the sound system or the CD, that never would have happened with a live performer.