Well here goes....! My first blog. I've been thinking of doing a blog for quite some time and I've known what the general idea would be, but I have so many ideas, I just didn't really know what I'd write about first. With September being the "opening of the season" in general and tonight being the opening night at the Met , I thought this would be a good time to start! I don't know how often I'll post but I do want to write.
This particular blog entry will be geared toward young artists. I find myself thinking, so often, about so many things I'd like to say to young singers. Yes, words of advice. I was very lucky in starting out, as I hope most people are, in that I had wonderful people giving me advice. It may not have always been the best advice - but advice, none the less, and most of the time, (I'm an optimist!) given for the right reason. I find I have this great desire to share things at this time in my career. As I've gotten older and I begin to focus more on teaching, things just naturally come to my mind that I'd like to share. I am a very open person so I have to decide, as I go, just how open I will be; knowing myself, I will have to edit and pull back a bit now and again. Singing opera is such an amazing career path - it is an amazing CALLING! Life as an opera singer can be SO amazing, but it can also be heartbreaking. I hope that I can be of help, bring a little bit of sanity and maybe even a bit of comfort to some singers; and who knows? Perhaps help shed a little light on what singers go through for their friends, family and significant others.
So in light of what I had said about being an opera singer is a calling: RUN! Don't walk, but get a head start and run if this is NOT a CALLING for you!!! I suppose you've heard this time and time again, but it is worth repeating. As AMAZING a life being an opera singer can be, it is frickin' difficult!!! No, I didn't walk to opera rehearsal barefoot in the snow, uphill both ways... That would have been easy!!:-) Be ready to be broke, be ready to invest THOUSANDS of dollars into your craft! Be ready to be away from your family and friends. Be ready to have to miss parties and family gatherings (hopefully because you are working, but also, you're just not being able to stay long in loud gatherings). Although I seem to see more and more young singers with parents who are able to help out financially, if you are not one of them, be ready to only have time to practice after your temp job, to have to leave your temp job to do an audition on your break and run back to said temp job. Be ready to move from sublet to sublet and to have any number of roommates - most likely those who are not at all in our business and who do NOT get it and probably never will.
Boy - this is turning out to be a bit of a downer. Sorry! Not my intentions!!:-) . But I guess this is a blog - stream of consciousness.
So that being said: Get a SHRINK!! :-) HA! I do say that with a smile, but take my word for it - get a shrink you LIKE and can afford. If that is not possible (and even if it is), have something that clears your mind - yoga, tai chi, running, biking, swimming.... and friends outside the business. Something that helps you center and that keeps your feet on the ground; hobbies such as painting, knitting, playing instruments. I wish I'd found yoga and meditation sooner in my career. I was a big runner and took my bike with me whenever possible if my gig was in a bike-friendly area. I'll blog about exercise another day, as I feel very strongly that it is imperative - not only to have the physical stamina needed to get through an entire operatic role, but to have a calm mind and something "normal" to do.
I pray you are able to find the right teacher and coaches!! Sometimes you just don't know; that is the kicker of it all!! I wish there was a black and white way of knowing you have the right teacher, especially. If no red lights go off, the least you can do is make sure you are comfortable with your teacher and coaches!! You need them to be as honest as possible!!! That, for me anyway, is non-negotiable! Honesty. If you want to pay your teacher $150+ for a lesson and they're not being honest with you (about your ability nor his/her ability), God bless you for having that extra money to blow.... I also had to have a good rapport with my teacher and coaches; your agent, too, when you get to that stage. Look, this business is difficult enough; you don't want your teacher to be your shrink or get too personal, but I do think it has to be a safe environment in which you can be completely open, take chances and GROW. Voice lessons (especially) and coachings are so personal and you can feel very vulnerable; I think it's important to feel safe and comfortable with that person.
So all this being said (and just touched upon), HAVE FUN!! This is such an exciting time (of year AND in your life, if you are a "young artist") and the years of being a "young artist" go by faster than you can ever imagine! :-). The next "up and coming"? That could be its own blog!:-) That flies by even faster! So in the mean time, have fun, work hard!!! Enjoy the auditions! Yes, you read correctly. Enjoy seeing your friends, enjoy this opportunity to perform! Remember that you have no control over the outcome, so just stay healthy be prepared and do your best!! You may as well enjoy it! Also, keep a journal of your auditions: for whom you've sung, what you sang, how you felt about it and what, if anything, was said) BE KIND!! Most everyone is nervous and some people may be stand-offish or just plain rude. Don't be rude. Being kind and a good colleague will make you feel better and takes much less energy. Yes, take time for yourself in auditions and performances: definitely get into character and calm your nerves and focus, but always try to be kind.
I wish you all the best in this new and exciting opera season!! Keep your chin up, your nose clean (what does that really mean, anyway??? :-)), stay centered, work hard and have fun!! I hope the right work comes along for each of you!! I wish you all love, peace and light.
ALL my very best,
"Guard well within yourself that treasure, kindness. Know how to give without hesitation, how to lose without regret, how to acquire without meanness." - George Sand