Below, I have written answers to questions I am often asked about this website. If you require any further information, please If you are having problems with receiving your order, please refer to question 17.
About the tracks
1) What are these tracks for?
The music tracks from Piano-Accompaniments.com are designed to help you familiarise yourself with playing along to the piano parts of works you may be learning. When you play your solo part along with these piano tracks, you will find they help with keeping in time, and in tune; getting used to playing with the piano part; getting a sense of performance and making practice more fun!
You may well also find that these tracks save you money in hiring rehearsal pianists, at least in the early stages of learning a piece.
While these tracks are primarily designed for private practice, many of my customers have also played along to these tracks in public performances and exams. These tracks can provide great benefits to your practise sessions, and are used by musicians all over the world.
2) What quality are these recordings and how are they recorded?
These are high-quality recordings, with a real piano sound rather than synthesised recordings you might hear elsewhere. The tracks are recorded on a top-of-the-range digital piano - a Yamaha Clavinova. A digital piano provides a similar sound to a grand piano, but with the great advantage that I can edit the recorded files in order to correct note pitches, and incorporate sympathetic tempo changes, any necessary click-beats and breathing points. As I am a professional accompanist I feel I am well placed to be able to judge how each accompaniment should sound.
All this means you will be practising along to performance standard accompaniments, not tinny Midi files. In addition, each work/movement has its own 15-20 second sample for you to listen to.
If possible, I would encourage people to listen to the extended samples (on the Samples page on the top silver menu bar) on high quality speakers to get a true representation of the quality of the tracks I offer.
In addition my Testimonials page contains a selection of 250 generous comments made by happy customers through the years!
3) Can these tracks be modified?
If you would like to have your tracks modified at all, I am happy to try and re-record bespoke versions for customers. I do this on a voluntary donation basis, and you can find details on this page (click here).
If you simply wish to change the tempo of the accompaniment tracks slightly, you can easily find software on the internet to allow you to do so. This means you can create multiple copies of any track at different speeds, to enable you to customise your practice routine. The software I recommend, for tempo changes of up to +/-15%, is The Amazing Slow Downer by Roni Music.
4) Do you provide CDs?
I'm sorry that I am no longer able to offer CDs by post, the only tracks available to purchase are in MP3 format. Apologies to any customers who used to order CDs from me, but please refer to question 5 instead.
5) Can I make CDs from these MP3 files?
Yes, if you have a computer and suitable software. Most PCs come with a version of Windows Media Player, which will do the job easily, and Apple Macs can burn CDs using iTunes. Alternatively you can also use many commercial software packages instead.
There are two main formats of CDs you can buy in shops for this purpose, CD-R and CD-RW. If your CD player can play CD-RWs then use this format (as you will be able to re-write the disk afterwards), but if in doubt please use CD-R disks, as they are much more universally accepted by older CD players. This webpage (click here) gives further instructions for burning CDs.
6) What do you mean by 'does this track contain cuts, clicks, repeats, etc...?' and 'practice versions?'
For many works/movements, you will see the phrase 'does this track contain cuts, clicks, repeats, etc'. This brings up a little text box that describes whether I have added click-beats (either at the start of the piece or in places where the piano is silent), whether I have included repeats, whether I have omitted any concerto tuttis and how I might have accommodated solo cadenza passages. 'Practice versions' are simply slower versions of fast or more difficult works - these are provided free with the full speed 'performance' versions or when you buy a full sonata or concerto. They can help you build up to playing, hopefully, at the full speed eventually!
7) What if I want the tracks without click-beats?
If you are unhappy at having occasional click-beats sounding in the works as you perform them (to help you keep in time when the piano is silent etc.), then in most cases I am able to re-record bespoke versions for you without such beats. Please see this page for further details.
8) What if I find the tracks hard to play along to?
I provide further advice for playing with these tracks on this page (click here).
9) Will you be adding any more requests?
As of the end of 2014, I have nearly reached my upper webspace limit, with 572 works available to purchase on site, comprising 1,960 MP3 files! For the time being therefore, I have decided to not add any more works, apart from one per month for the next 9 months. Therefore, if you did want to send me requests for new works, I would of course be happy to hear from you (I always love hearing from my customers), but I regret that I would have to politely decline for the time being. I may be able to add more webspace in years to come, so I would add any such requests to a future reserve list.
Purchasing from the store
10) How do I buy tracks?
Browse your way to the works you want, using either the online catalogue, the search box at the top right of the page, or the instrument icons to the left. Clicking the 'Add to Cart' button puts that product in your shopping basket, then press 'continue' to continue shopping. When you have finishing adding to your basket, you should select the 'checkout' page, where you simply add your address details, and then proceed to the payment pages. You can use most standard debit or credit cards to make your purchase, and PayPal account holders are able to use PayPal if this method proves easier. The standard checkout system transfers you to Sagepay secure servers to process your online payment. (If you encounter difficulties with SagePay's checkout please refer to FAQ 14.)
Once the transaction is complete, press the 'Proceed' button to get to your receipt page, where the download links are made available. Should anything go wrong with your order, please refer to question 15.
11) Do you stock or offer sheet music?
I do not stock sheet music, and none of the downloads themselves include sheet music or links to such. Fortunately, much of the music on my site is in the public domain and hence there is a good chance you can find appropriate scores freely on the web, particularly at the amazing imslp.org website. While I can advocate printing free scores for practice purposes, for public performances I would always recommend buying commercial scores from reputable publishers as they are much more robust and may contain important performance notes. If you need advice with scores, please contact me and I'll see what I can do to help.
12) Do you offer the files in MIDI format?
I don't offer the source files as a general rule, however there may be exceptions to this so it's worth sending me an email! The source files are not strictly MIDI but can be exported to MIDI format retaining note, volume, pedal and tempo values but losing some of the finer detail of the recording. This means if you were to receive the MIDI tracks you may need to edit them yourself in order to get a satisfactory outcome. With this being the case I would need a strict assurance that the tracks would not be edited and then used to produce commercial tracks, and hence to start with I would place an arbitrary limit on the number of MIDI tracks I could offer.
13) Can I buy from anywhere in the world?
Yes, the recordings can by purchased anywhere in the world. MP3 files can naturally be downloaded anywhere. While each price is shown in Sterling, Dollars and Euros, the currency converter will show the price in other currencies.
14) Is it secure to order from this website?
All internet shopping done via Sagepay (formally Protx) benefits from the latest 128-bit SSL encryption technology, so you can be assured that your transaction is as safe as it can be. I never get to see your credit card details, so there is no question of your security being compromised.
For further information about Sagepay's security please click here.
15) How long are the MP3 links made available for?
After you have completed your order, you will be presented with a receipt page and email containing links.
Please use these links to permanently download the files to your computer within 48 hours (2 days) of your purchase. If you are unable to do so for any reason, don't worry as I can send you any unreceived files by email.
Also, if you ever lose your MP3 files due to a hard drive failure, I will happily send you replacement files.
16) I am finding difficulties with ordering. Is there an alternative payment method?
While most people are able to progress through the secure SagePay checkout without problems, on occasions people can find difficulties with completing the order and in such circumstances SagePay will cancel the order. You will not be charged but consequently no MP3 links will be generated. However, this webpage (click here) outlines an alternative payment method that can be used in such cases. Please note that I cannot accept telephone or postal orders at this time, all ordering must be done via online payment.
17) What if anything goes wrong with my order, can you help or provide a refund?
In the majority of cases, customers are able to download their purchased MP3 files from the receipt page automatically and in full. However, on rare occasions you may find that files have come through incomplete, or sometimes not at all! This can be due to server timeouts, spam filters removing the links, location-based broadband issues, or just general technology gremlins! No matter what the problem, or why it occured, please , and I will personally do everything I can to make sure your order is fulfilled.
If any issues cannot be resolved, or if you are unhappy with any of the accompaniment tracks provided, then I am happy to provide a refund for the tracks in question.
Using the tracks
18) Do I need a broadband connection?
To download MP3 files, I would suggest that a broadband connection is used, although if you are just interested in a couple of small works/movements then a dial-up connection should suffice. The average size for an MP3 file is around 4Mb, (the smallest is about 0.5Mb and the largest is 12Mb). A full sonata can be anywhere between 10 to 30Mb. With a broadband connection even the largest sonata should not take any more than 10 minutes to fully download.
19) How do I store these files on an Apple iPad®/iPhone®/iPod Touch®?
It is easy to order from my website using an Apple iPad or iPhone, but customers may find difficulty storing the files to their device due to the lack of a native storage system, unless you already have a file manager app. If you do not have such an app, you can download one from the App store. The file manager I use is called iFiles, but you can find others (some free) with a quick search. This webpage (click here) provides further details.
20) Can I use these tracks with my personal stereo/MP3 player/smartphone
Yes, the MP3 files that you download can be used with personal MP3 players or MP3-compatible phones. If you own an Apple® device you can load any relevant MP3 files into your iTunes library where you can convert them to AAC files, else refer to question 17 above.
21) Can I copy and distribute these recordings?
Please do not make and distribute illegal copies of these recordings, as outlined in the terms and conditions. I have spent a long time creating this catalogue of products, and I’m sure as a musician you will respect the amount of effort this has required. I don’t mind you lending any recordings to close friends or family, and I don’t mind how many copies of each track you make at different tempos as long as these are for your own personal use. Thank you.
22) Can I use these tracks for my own recordings, website or on YouTube?
Many people ask me about whether they can record along to my tracks and post the results online or elsewhere. I would appreciate being informed about such use, partly to see the tracks in action(!) but also to check no copyright is being breached. However, as a general rule, where your solo and my piano parts are combined in a recording and cannot be separated into constituent parts, I am happy for you to do so, providing the source of the tracks is credited along with a website link. Thank you.
About the website and it's creator
23) Who are you and what experience do you have as an accompanist?
My name is Paul Gardner, and I am the creator and owner of Piano-Accompaniments.com. I have been learning the piano for over twenty years and have been awarded a Masters degree in Music Performance from the University of Southampton, England. I have been accompanying soloists for many years and it has become my primary occupation. I have accompanied many hundreds of recitals, diplomas, master-classes, concerts and exams with pupils of varying ability, both in the UK and abroad. Many of these performances have been by their nature of advanced works, and as such I have covered a considerable amount of repertoire.
24) Why did you set up Piano-Accompaniments.com?
I used to find it very useful when I was practising piano duets or concertos to record the corresponding piano/orchestral part so that I could play along (using a MiniDisc player with headphones). I found this made practising a lot more enjoyable, helped me with listening out for the accompanying part, and proved indispensable for memorising the solo parts. I later decided to translate this idea into creating accompaniments for instrumental repertoire, in particular, the medium to advanced-level repertoire that most classical musicians aspire to play.
Using high-end software and hardware, I have spent many months learning, recording and editing the tracks that you find in this catalogue, in each case creating recordings of a far superior quality to those initial examples I used to make for my own benefit! I very much hope these recordings prove useful to musicians of all ages, all over the world.
25) What may I contact you about?
Naturally, if you have any problems with ordering or receiving your tracks, please to let me know and I'll attempt to sort any problems as quickly as possible.
If you discover any glitches with the website, I would appreciate you letting me know so I can try and put them right. For instance if the wrong tracks are ever generated or any links are broken.
Lastly, I would love to hear about how you are using my tracks, and whether they are contributing to your practice sessions. If you do enjoy using my tracks, please let me know. I guarantee it will make my day! :)