Barton’s Music Accompaniment program prepares pianists to work in a collaborative manner in the music industry. Piano accompanists who have a comprehensive knowledge of the different styles of accompaniment, such as vocal and instrumental literature, church music, opera, musical theatre, ballet, and choral repertoire are currently in high demand in this growing industry. Classes are tailored to give students an overall understanding of the different styles of music accompaniment and suited to the needs and preferences of the students, considering their future career paths.
Hiring qualified piano accompanists is critical in today’s competitive music industry. Local churches all over the states, middle and high schools in small and big metropolitan areas, as well as Broadway and local Opera companies all over the world are in the constant search for qualified accompanists who could guide instrumentalist, singers, or lead a group through rehearsals, perform in concerts, or tour over the region or world-wide.
The program is led by internationally-renowned collaborative pianist Dr. Alejandro Avila, who is actively part of top-notch programs in the US and in Europe.
Dr. Avila is currently part of, or has experience with:
- VAO Bodrum – Opera company in Europe
- Stull Community of Faith Church – Music director
- Conero International Piano Competition & Festival – Young Artist program and vocal coach in Italy
- Lawrence Opera Theatre
- Claire, MI United Methodist Church
- Led middle-school and High-school accompaniment for band instruments and vocal literature
- The Meadowlark Project – co-founder and vocal coach for contemporary ensemble
- Collaborative pianist for string department – Washburn University
- Opera coach at the University of Kansas (KU)
Frequently Asked Questions
How long does earning the Music Accompaniment degree take?
The AA degree associated with the Music Accompaniment emphasis consists of 30 credit hours that focus on music fundamentals in the first year, including but not limited to: Private lessons (Piano) one-on-one; Harmony I & II, Aural Skills I & II, and other Foundation and Introductory courses required for an Associate degree. On their second year, students will tailor their studies towards the different fields of music accompaniment, while taking classes that assure a smooth transition to a Bachelor’s degree at a four-year institution in the state of Kansas.
What can I do after earning my Music Accompanist degree?
Barton’s Music accompanist emphasis allows students to enter the workforce right after graduation, as well as during the completion of their studies at a four-year institution. The degree prepares the graduates to start working at local churches, apply for jobs at educational institutions at a part-time or full-time basis, or work as freelancers in their school of choosing while completing their bachelor’s degree.
What will I learn?
The program offers courses that addresses every aspect of the Music accompaniment field.
- All foundational piano techniques.
- Basics of language diction in Italian, French, and German (for Opera).
- Understanding of hymn playing and intro to improvisation for services.
- Musical theater analysis and working in Broadway settings.
- Differences between vocal and instrumental literature for middle school and high school accompanists.
- Chamber music setting vs. Accompanist feature (classical music).
- How to replicate an orchestra when reducing a score for rehearsals or concerts purposes.
- Introduction to the job market through involvement in local and international organizations
Partners & Memberships
- Great Bend High School (Great Bend, KS)
- Central Kansas Community Choir (Great Bend, KS)
- Lawrence Opera Theater (Lawrence, KS)
- Hilltop Singers (Great Bend, KS)
- Conero International Piano Festival (Recanati, Italy)
- Vao Bodrum (Bodrum, Turkey)
- Salt Creek Song Festival (Ashland, NE)
Pianist Alejandro Avila was born in Asuncion, Paraguay, and began his piano studies at the age of 7. Concluding his conservatory studies in Asuncion, Alejandro was awarded a full scholarship to pursue a Bachelor of Music in Piano Performance degree at São Paulo State University (UNESP), in Brazil, where he studied with renowned Brazilian professors Dr. Cláudio Richerme, and Dr. André Rangel. After finishing his studies in São Paulo, Alejandro received a full assistantship position at Central Michigan University, where he worked as a piano instructor for piano class and private lessons, as well as a collaborator for choir, instrumentalists, and singers. During these two years, Dr. Avila pursued his Master of Music degree in Piano Performance studying with Portuguese pianist Alexandra Mascolo-David.
Dr. Avila is a recipient of several prizes, grants, and music awards. Among these are the first prize at the Rosa Mistica competition in Curitiba, Brazil in 2003 when he was 12, the first prize at Momento Musical competition in Asuncion, Paraguay in 2012, as well as two Silver Medals at the KMTA Honors competition at the graduate level in Emporia, KS in 2018 and in Lawrence, KS in 2019. Alejandro is also a recipient of the Koch Cultural Trust grant for his work at the Cortona Sessions for New Music, in Italy, as well as a Reach Out Kansas grant, for his collaborative work with The Meadowlark Project.
Alejandro received his Doctor of Musical Arts degree from the University of Kansas in 2020, after defending his dissertation Iguazú: A Collection of South American Piano Pieces, a research project passed with Honors that focuses on the incorporation of pedagogic pieces outside the main canon. Dr. Avila is currently Instructor of Keyboard Studies and Director of Accompaniment at Barton Community College in Great Bend, Kansas. Prior to his current appointment, Dr. Avila worked as an adjunct faculty and collaborative pianist at Washburn University in Topeka, as well as a professional staff pianist at The University of Kansas, in Lawrence, collaborating with the voice, string, choir, and opera departments at both institutions. Dr. Avila was also faculty of piano and theory for all levels at Language and Music House of Kansas City from 2021 to 2022. Alejandro keeps an active and successful career as a recitalist, both in solo and collaborative settings, and is one of the most sought-after collaborative pianists in the region. Dr. Avila also keeps a piano studio across Kansas and different online locations.
International outreach and educational development are also key endeavors in Alejandro's agenda as an educator. In 2021, Dr. Avila was appointed Director of the South American division of the International Piano Professionals Association (IPPA), position in which he has worked to develop locations in Asuncion, Paraguay and Buenos Aires, Argentina to host regional competitions that connect to the grand final of the international competition that is hosted every summer in Recanati, Italy. In addition to the competition, Dr. Avila gives lectures, workshops, recitals, and other pedagogical events throughout the region, in his mission to educate and foster piano education in his native continent.
An enthusiast of chamber music and Latin-American repertoire, Alejandro performs regularly with singers and instrumentalist of the Kansas, Nebraska, and Missouri areas. Premiering new works by living composers and reviving lesser-known compositions are among Alejandro's main endeavors as a contemporary artist. Ongoing summer residencies include the Salt Creek Festival in Ashland, Nebraska as a guest artist, the Vocal Academy of Opera (VAO) in Bodrum, Turkey, where he coaches singers and plays for recitals and concerts in the region, as well as a Associate Faculty at the Conero International Piano Festival in Recanati, Italy. He is also a co-founder of The Meadowlark Project, a new music ensemble that brings Kansas-based art songs into new audiences and small communities within the states of Kansas and Missouri.
In his free time, Alejandro enjoys cooking, running outdoors, and playing keyboard with his Lawrence-KC-based Brazilian band Balacobaco.