Weeeellll shit. The Fabulous Eden linked to me on her delightful blog (hi Eden!), so I guess now I have to post something. GEEZE. GAH. OK FINE.
I’ve had this entry percolating in the back of my head since *mumblemumbleoctobermumble * and its relevance has possibly already passed its expiration date, but this is My Blog, so I can do what I want! Ha!
The real world is hard for a singer. I’ve talked about this before. In school you have auditions and shows and juries and recitals and whatnot, but really it’s all planned for you. You just have to pay a little bit of attention and show up. But after graduation you are suddenly the captain of your own destiny, and it is scary as hell. In fact, the sheer number of options, the nuances of opportunities available/appropriate for a fledgling professional are paralyzingly vast. For most of us, the solution is endless hours spent looking at this:
YAPTracker, (Young Artist Program Tracker) is a website that offers singers a handy way to research, apply for, and track opportunities of all kinds (mainstage, competitions, young artist programs, summer programs, pay-to-sings, graduate programs, agents, etc.). We use it constantly.
This fall I had four auditions within a couple of weeks, three in Philadelphia and one in NYC. The first was a young artist program, and was held at the Academy of Vocal Arts. I had never been to AVA, had never driven around in downtown Philly, and this was my first audition out in the Real World. Needless to say, this was a nerve-wracking experience for a million reasons that had nothing at all to do with my singing. So it was particularly thrilling that the night went so very well.
I got there in plenty of time, despite the rush-hour traffic, and found street parking that didn’t make me cry. I found my way to AVA with no drama, found a place to warm up, was in good voice…really the night could not have gone much better than it did. The panel was friendly and energetic, and had me sing three pieces. This is a Big Deal. If they don’t like you at all, you might get cut off halfway through the first piece you offer. If they like you ok, but don’t really want you, you get to finish. If they like what they hear, they call a second piece. If they call a third, you can bet that they are hearing something they like. They asked me about my German, thanked me and sent me on my way, euphoric and triumphant, out into the night. Huzzah!
The second two auditions were also at AVA…but they went much less well. Circumstances conspired against me from the moment I woke up, and the whole day passed in a frantic rush peppered with small disasters. I had to hire a pianist on the spot, which is always a bit stressful in an area where you know no-one. I accidentally paid $20 to park instead of $6 because of a failure to read. The list at my first audition was all screwed up, and I sorta cut off a tenor who the judges knew at the door thinking it was my turn, and was turned away. Crap. My singing for both auditions was ok. No disasters, but not really anything that would set me apart. I left knowing that I wouldn’t be hearing anything good from them. I didn’t have time to worry about it, though, since the day continued to be a little heavy on Murphy’s law. It took two and a half hours for me to get home, had to push back a lesson I was teaching, was late to church choir in Delaware and never got to eat a meal. A day I’d just as soon forget.
The last was in NYC, which was very exciting to me since it was my first trip to the city. I grabbed the Mega Bus at the butt crack of dawn and snoozed my way through New Jersey. Got an awesome bagel for breakfast, took the subway without incident and found Shelter Studios really early. This place was way out of my experience. I hadn’t really given much thought to the venue, and had never been to an audition space that didn’t include some kind of warmup space, so I had naturally not called ahead and reserved a room to sing in beforehand. That was…embarrassing and disheartening. I for sure felt like I was suddenly in over my head, a yokel from some little backward nowhere who had no idea what she was doing. This feeling faded, though, as I listened to some of the other auditioners chatting in that quietly aggressive and intimidating way that performers have about their other auditions, name dropping like mad, only to go in and sing like absolute crap. Despite the setback, I sang well and left happy. I spent the day walking around and enjoying the city, then hopped the bus home.
So what did I learn from that first round of auditions that I can take with me as I move forward?
1. Buy different shoes, or put something sticky in the heels. These fall off your feet when you put on panty-hose, and you look like an idiot walking in them.
2. Hurry up and learn a couple new arias that are both faster and happier. All your arias are kinda the same thing right now. (This is not news, but is reiterated every time I have to put together my top 5).
3. No one wants to hear all of Stride La Vampa, ever.
4. You have to reserve space to warm up for some auditions. Find out which ones. Plan accordingly.
5. I can sing Voce di Donna totally cold, and sing it pretty darned well. It serves as a good warmup for the other pieces on my list, too.
6. If you are tempted to schedule an audition into a day that looks insane, DON’T. Chances are it will NOT go smoothly, and you will have a vague sense of panic holding you back all day long. Change your schedule.
7. If you are ahead of schedule, don’t keep singing in your warmup room out of boredom. It’s a fast track to not only thinking/worrying too much, but also to wearing yourself out. You may remember this lesson from EVERY OTHER TIME YOU’VE SUNG FOR ANY AUDITION EVER. Don’t be dumb.
8. You are not the best person who will sing today. You are probably also not the worst. If they didn’t want to hear you, they wouldn’t have given you an audition slot. Don’t get intimidated.
I haven’t gotten any offers from the auditions I did this fall, but they were all still valuable time spent if for no other reason than that they gave me the opportunity to work out the kinks. As we move into the Spring audition season, I am feeling much more prepared. Seasoned. Confident. Forward on the Foe!