I recently was asked: "On a scale of 1-10, how would I rate compared to the other people you have accompanied?" Liquid courage had given this particular singer the strength to boldly ask such a question...and they knew me well enough to be assured I would give an equally honest and forthcoming answer.
My immediate feelings were to give a comparative analysis of my most recent interactions with the #phonators; however, it seemed ridiculous and moot. Does it affect me more or less if the singer is "good" or "bad." Delving deeper, does the quality and/or timbre of the instrument factor into a quantitative evaluation of the overall experience?
Sure, I have my preferences but that of course is also determined by the type or genre of repertoire. Does this piece require a heavier bel canto or would a better fit be a lighter lyric?
But even then I realized that none of that even mattered. What truly effects me more than anything as an accompanist, I thought, is whether the soloist has made 'a choice.' Have they prepared and studied their music-- whether that be in the heavy lifting of a coaching or simply by incubating/meditating on the words, intonation, and phrasing.
This direct question inspired my own thoughts to swirl and settle on what I truly believe makes a musician or any artist for that matter tick. And that is the fierce determined choices that we should make for our art.
So, in summation, I am happy to accompany anyone: child or adult, dilettante or seasoned professional, fowl or beast. If any number can be discerned, it would be regarding only whether choices were made and the finesse of how they were executed. That, I suppose, comes with practice and experience. Yet, the process and procedure in making this beauty we call music is where the proof is and the pudding is truly enjoyed.