4. No one should ever play the melody line. (This is for the vocal team).
The obvious exception is during an instrumental section of a song. But if a vocalist is singing, an instrument can probably think of something better to play than doubling the melody being sung. Some ideas of what solo instruments (flute, violin, trumpet, etc.) can play instead:
- a harmony at the interval of a 3rd, 4th, or 5th
- an echo of the melody (“call and response” style)
- follow the chord changes on sustained notes
- play a counter-melody (something subtle that doesn’t take away from the melody)
- when in doubt – lay out!
The rule to not play the melody also applies to keyboard instruments, unless the song is brand new and needs the support. Generaly, doubling the melody can be avoided by the keyboard. The keyboardist can think of their part as a separate accompaniment to the song and not like four-part hymn playing that doubles the melody and it’s rhythm.