In life, no one is the same. Different personalities, looks, and speech all contribute to a person’s individuality. The same is true in music. Singers and instrumentalists have their own styles.
Get to know the styles of the people you accompany. As you practice with a soloist, be observant to different needs. You might need to emphasize the melody as you play to give a soloist more confidence. If timing is an issue, accent the downbeat of each measure to keep a group’s timing together.
Whenever I practice for special music, I always ask the soloist or ensemble the following questions:
1. Are you comfortable with the tempo of the song?
2. Do you need to rehearse a specific part for rhythm, notes, etc.?
3. Do you need an interlude to catch your breath?
4. Will you repeat anything at the end of the song?
These elements will make them feel more comfortable with the song and more comfortable with their accompanist. Plus, you will feel better prepared and more capable to do your job.
Cater to the needs of your people and they will appreciate you more for it.