Learning how to play piano accompaniment requires a knowledge of the piano keyboard, good sight reading skills, and the ability to tastefully arrange a song around either a voice or other lead instrument. The role of the piano accompanist is to support a singer or melody instrument by playing chords and musical fills to enhance another vocal or instrument performance.
- Read through the sheet music to the song you'll be playing. Pay attention to the vocal line and the chords that go with it. Decided whether you will play the arrangement as it's written or if you want to make changes. Familiarize yourself with your part before the actual performance.
- Play full chords to support the melody and keep the arrangement simple while the singer or lead instrumentalists performs his part. Pay attention to the voicings you use for chords. Some of the chord tones will come from the melody. Playing chord voicings that are too complex may result in an accompaniment that is overdone.
- Play musical fills in between words of a vocal line or a break in the lead performer's part. The fills should be based around the melody, tasteful, and lead back to the main melody. You can do this by playing a melodic alternative to what the vocalist or soloist is doing, then adding a short musical phrase based on the chords to lead the vocalist or soloist back to his part.
- Pay attention to the singer or soloist you're accompanying. Even a well-rehearsed performance is subject to mistakes. Be prepared to fill in if there is a mistake on the part of the performer you're backing up. This might include playing the start of the melody if the lead performer forgets.