The art of faking is all about approximating an accompaniment part. We do this by using our knowledge of the harmony and we use rhythms to estimate the basic gist of the piano part. There are several compelling reasons while this is the most useful skill that you can have.
You don’t quite have the skills to play a written accompaniment part.
You may think that because you are not a virtuoso pianist, that means you are limited in the songs you can work on with your students. So many songs, especially in the Music Theater genre are very difficult (we’re looking at YOU, Jason Robert Brown!). By faking, you have a lot more repertoire available to you, because you will be creating your own accompaniments.
2. You don’t have a lot of time to practice.
I have hear of voice teachers and coaches spending hours and hours each week trying to learn complicated piano accompaniments. Who has that kind of time? Unless you are doing a concert with Audra McDonald, you will be perfectly fine faking some (or all) of the accompaniments.
3. You want to customize the accompaniment to suit your performance situation.
If you are accompanying a less experienced singer, simplifying a busy accompaniment part will help them to sing their best without being overwhelmed by what the piano is doing. If your singer has a softer voice, if there is no sound system or if the piano or performance space are loud, a simplified accompaniment part with help the singer be heard. If you are self accompanying, simplifying the arrangement can help you to be present in your vocal performance instead of having to concentrate too much on playing piano.
High level professional pianists fake all the time. I myself am constantly customizing the accompaniments to suit the situation and I know for a fact that this is commonplace in the industry. Faking will also buy you time while you develop your sight reading skills at the piano.
Faking requires only two skills:
1. ability to play a variety of chord qualities in different keys,
2. ability to play different rhythmic patterns to represent different music styles.
In order to fake effectively, you just need to play the chords in a rhythm that is approximate to the written accompaniment part. It truly is as simple as learning how to reach chord symbols and play them on piano, plus a few different rhythmic patterns divided between the hands. Put them together and you’re good to go.
Want to learn how to fake? Check out Piano Skills for Singers – the only online piano courses for singers created by a singer.