Emma is a Chicago-area musician who lives to collaborate with singers and instrumentalists. She has been the staff pianist at Triton College, Fenton High School, Lyons Township High School, and the private choral organization Spirito! in Downers Grove. She enjoys providing vocal and pit direction for high school, professional, and community theatres all over Chicago and the western suburbs, such as Summer Place Theatre in Naperville and Morton West High School in Berwyn.
Emma has accompanied dozens of students at Solo and Ensemble festivals, several church choirs, many musical theatre auditions, and both virtual and in-person performances over the last decade as a collaborative pianist.
When she is not behind the keyboard, she loves being behind the conductor’s podium. Some favorite shows include Camelot, The Addams Family The Sound of Music, The Drowsy Chaperone, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, and Footloose.
She has been fortunate enough to tour with a high school choir on several occasions, and one of her original arrangements, “The Leaving of Liverpool,” was performed in Ireland. Emma has composed a few singer-songwriter songs and enjoys arranging choral and a cappella pieces.
Emma holds a Master of Music in Collaborative Piano (Vocal Coaching) from North Park University and a B.A. from Knox College in Galesburg, IL. Emma lives in Elmwood Park with her husband and her dog.
How do you pronounce “accompanist”?
It’s four syllables: uh-KUM-puh-nist. If I were into botany, I’d be a botanist, but since I accompany, I’m an accompanist!
What’s a Collaborative Pianist?
“Accompanist” and “collaborative pianist” are different titles for the same job. “Accompanist” implies an imbalanced relationship between soloist and back-up, while “collaborative” implies a partnership between the pianist and the instrumentalist or singer. I use both, but I love the connotation of the latter!
How young should my kid be when they start piano lessons?
I do not personally teach toddlers or pre-schoolers, but some teachers (especially those who are trained in the Suzuki method) take very young students. I was five when I showed an interest in piano and seven when I began lessons. However, no one is ever too OLD to learn!
Why do you charge so much for a hobby? The lady at church accompanies my kid for free.
It’s wonderful that she is willing to be so generous! Accompanying requires a high level of skill and focus, as we must know the music well enough to devote half of our attention to supporting the soloist, catching them when they fall behind or skip ahead, and anticipating when they will breathe. I have also studied historical performance practice and languages for the most accurate and informed performance. It’s a job, and it’s traditional to pay people for their skills. Please consider paying the church lady.
Do you teach voice lessons?
Nope. I am a vocal coach, but not a voice teacher. I can help advanced and professional singers to polish their performance by giving advice about performance practice and language diction. Beginner singers should work with a voice teacher, and I’d be happy to recommend some great ones in the Chicago area!