Category Archives: Travel

Riding the Wave

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Riding the Wave

Oh hello! I have a blog!

Why is it always

Sometimes life

See this is exactly what happens every time I pull up this stupid window to try and write a blog entry. What moments ago seemed to be clear, easily verbalized thoughts suddenly turn to absolute crap on the page, I glare at this blinking cursor in disgust for a minute or two, then blow out an exasperated sound like “ughhrhhrghhg,” close the window and go back to reading endless blog archives or watching Poirot on Netflix. But if I stay away much longer, I’m going to have to just erase this blog and give up, or leave it to atrophy like thousands of other little broken threads hanging from the Interwebs.

No! Since the whole theme of this thought I’ve been struggling to get on the page is to pull up one’s big kid undies and carry on, it seems appropriate for me to suck it up and start here.

You might have noticed this too: 2012 turned out to be largely total shit right up to the end. Or maybe you didn’t! Maybe 2012 was a great year for you (you lucky jerk). It’s not that nothing good happened all year long. Lots of great things happened–they were just so hilariously, ridiculously outweighed by the crap that they barely budged the scale. I don’t want to dwell on it too much, but I have to at least explain where I’ve been for the last few months, and why I find myself in need of this internal pep talk to begin with.

We spent the last year living in Pennsylvania for my husband’s internship, part of the requirement for finishing his doctorate. And he met that requirement! He loved the work he did in his internship and he grew a lot over the last year. But, as internships are wont to do, his ended at the end of July, and he found himself jobless and hung up indefinitely in his career path by that other big requirement of graduation: his dissertation. He hoped to be done before his job ended, but that didn’t happen. In fact, he was only able to finally finish his first draft on December 29th and send it to his chair to begin the long (oh for craps sake) process of edits that will last until…who knows. You might notice the significant gap between the beginning of August and now. It’s awhile. And he’s been unemployed and writing furiously that whole time.

While in Pennsylvania I worked a few jobs including teaching, singing and retail. These were not enough to keep us afloat there for any significant amount of time. Right around Mid-October, as it was becoming suddenly clear that he would not be done with his dissertation (and therefore employable) by Christmas, we decided to take drastic action. So we made arrangements to move back to Louisville, where Husband’s family were, very generously, offering us housing in a property that was currently up for sale. It’d been on the market for two years with no movement at all. We’d pay a small amount of rent there, I’d be able to find work, and he’d have time to finish his dissertation so we could MOVE ON already.

So we packed all our stuff up to move it into a storage unit until such time that we could afford to rent a truck and move it down. We were ready to cram all our essentials into our cars and drive to Louisville when we learned that the property we were moving into the next day had sold. The new owners would want us out by the 15th of December. Whee! Lacking any better option, we took out a good amount of the stuff we’d planned to create a little mini household with, threw it into the storage unit too, and took off for Kentucky.

We’ve been pretty much scrambling to figure out our next move ever since then. We stayed in the property as long as we could, then with generous and wonderful relatives in Indiana. Then to North Carolina for the holidays, where a friend had an empty apartment and I had family to crash with when needed. It was great to be with family, and we had a wonderful Christmas, but a pal of uncertainty hung over us the whole time we were there. We rang in the new year with friends on the beach, which I think was a good way to reset our brains for a new start. Then we drove back up to Louisville, and are currently living in the guest room of some extremely awesome people. I’m still job hunting, Husband is working on his first round of dissertation edits and looking for temp work. Our only income since mid-November has been from my Etsy business, which is not exactly booming, but has helped us to keep gas in the car.

It’s been very hard for me to think about young artists programs, applications, auditions, or really singing in general for the last couple of months.

But for the first time since we left our apartment in PA, I’m finally feeling like we’ve come rest somewhere, even if it’s just for a moment. I feel like I can catch my breath and start planning, rather than just having to react to circumstances that are changing too rapidly for us to get ahead of them. It’s 2013, a truly New Year, and I hope it will be a good one. I can do my part to see that it will be.

So I’m heading out on the town tomorrow a bit to follow up some job leads, sing for a local choir director in hopes of finding work, and PRACTICE. I can find a temp job for now, and something that will further by career goals after that. We WILL be back in our own place soon. I will be able to pay for applications again soon. I will sing for people, I will find gigs and auditions. I will find students and start teaching again. This will all be fine. Life rolls right along, and I can either be swept along by it, or get on top of the wave of craziness and ride it.

Double Rainbow…What does it mean?

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Double Rainbow…What does it mean?

I have this half-written entry about the Newport Folk Festival sitting in my drafts, and had every intention of writing updates from here in Steamboat Springs…but then I got busy.

Busy with what, you ask? Well, I’m an opera with this guy. And this other guy. And this gal. It’s been a pretty awesome experience so far, once I got (mostly) past the terror of being the least experienced person on stage. Woo!

So instead of a real post, I’m going to leave you with a couple of photos, and get back to work. We’re finishing staging the finale today.

When opportunity knocks

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This Spring, I was invited to participate in a summer program. It’s a good program, run by great people in a beautiful place. But, despite being offered a truly amazing deal, I couldn’t afford to do it. And that was a bit of a heartbreak, since it was something I wanted to do very much.

So, when I got offered a spot in another summer program for a similar amount of money, I turned it down easily. Not because I didn’t want to do it, or because it wouldn’t be a great opportunity–but if I couldn’t come up with the money fast to do a program I loved, I couldn’t justify coming up with it more slowly for a program I liked. I shut the door, and started looking ahead to the next round of auditions in the fall.

Imagine my surprise when this second program continued to pursue me, not once but three times. Opportunity wasn’t just knocking, it was fairly banging down my door, significant scholarships in hand. Trying hard to not be a total idiot, I finally accepted the insistent push of the universe, and decided to make it work.* And that was all at once terrifying, gratifying, and exciting.

So for the last couple of weeks I’ve been rapidly shoving Mozart recits, arias, quintets etc into my head in preparation to perform Marcellina in Le Nozze di Figaro. This is not a role that has ever been on my radar, but now that I’m getting to know her, I think Marcellina and I will get along famously. There have been a few shenanigans along the way to make me question whether this was actually a great choice for me…but I have to keep reminding myself of some simple, inescapable facts:

1. It’s not like I have a whole lot else going on right now, professionally. I’ve been teaching, and I did a production of The Mikado this Spring, but other than that, my stage time and professional development have been at a near standstill. I’ve been working in a vacuum, and that’s not a great way to grow as a singer.

2. This will go on my resume, not only as a Summer program, but as a performance of a role with a company. That’s good stuff, and my resume can’t take a year’s worth of nothing after grad school.

3. I get to work up some new arias in preparation for the fall audition season–which, by the way, has already gotten underway. Not a moment too soon. I needed some fresh blood on my Top 5 (the five arias that I will consistently offer at auditions this year) to make me competitive.

4. While this is still going to cost me some money (y u so e’spensive, plane tickets?), it is money being well spent on my craft.

5. It’s going to be seriously scary and new for me, process-wise. This is going to be the shortest turn-around I’ve ever had for a show that isn’t a musical. I’ll be performing with people who are legit working professionals, singing at major houses all over the world. And I have to not only keep up, but prove that I deserve to be there. Nothing motivates quite like fear of failure, and this is good for me.

6. Thinking is fine, but over-thinking/worrying about crap that doesn’t matter in the long run will make you crazy. So don’t do it.

Right now my Figaro experience is mostly one of barely-contained terror as I learn this role (and it’s not a big one, so it’s going pretty fast) in a very short period of time. Italian does not come naturally to me, and it is some serious work getting it to stick in my head. I couldn’t ask for a better way to improve my skills than this.

Meanwhile, Husband’s job ends at the end of August, his dissertation is still 4 guys short of a full data set and we have no good job prospects on the horizon for a briefly ABD psychologist. Whee! Upheaval and change! This seems to be the name of the game for 2012. I’m slowly learning not to fight the uncertainty, but, instead, to ride the current and see where it takes me.

 

*If anybody would like to make a donation towards my living expenses during this 20 day program, I certainly wouldn’t turn it down.

People I Hate At the Airport

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People I Hate At the Airport

A friend of mine just gently reminded me that I have a blog and should perhaps post stuff every now and again (Hi Abby!), so here’s a little something I was thinking about while traveling across country a week or so ago.

Flying can be exciting. You climb into a giant metal tube with wings that doesn’t seem like it should be able to get 3 feet off the ground let alone 33,000 feet, cram yourself into a tiny seat surrounded by hundreds of strangers and soar off to destinations as exotic as the far east, or as mundane as the Atlanta airport (through which all travels, no matter what the ultimate destination, seem to be routed). It’s sorta thrilling when you think about it. You can travel thousands of miles in just a couple of hours, and go just about anywhere on the globe in a plane.

But mostly air travel is a long stretch of boredom punctuated by panicked running from gate to gate. You wait in line a lot, first to check in, then at security, then to board. You may sit around at a gate for hours between flights, or you might have to sprint from one side of an airport to the other to catch a connection–only to arrive and find that you are just in time to wait in  line some more. I generally don’t mind air travel, but there are certain kinds of people who can make your trip more stressful and irritating than it needs to be.

  1. People who stand on the moving walkway. Look. I know, it’s fun to stand on the moving walkway…it’s like a big horizontal escalator. Whee! ou don’t have anywhere to be any time soon, since your connecting flight doesn’t board for 6 hours, or you’ve shown up for your flight 4 hours ahead of time. Why not just stand there and be swept gently along, save your energy, watch the world go by…But some of us have places we’re trying to go, and go QUICKLY. That’s what the moving walkway is for. It’s not so you can be extra lazy and avoid walking for 50 feet. It’s so that those of us with tight timetables can move a little faster without having to run through a crowd of people. If you MUST stand, please follow the posted instructions to stay to the right. That means don’t stand there with your rolly bag blocking the whole walkway, leaning absently to one side and texting on your phone. Don’t make me kill you.
  2. People who can’t stop making out with their SO. We all get it. You’re deeply in love, or lust or whatever. You like each other’s faces so much that you want to eat them. You must be cuddling, rubbing, stroking, touching at all times. If you don’t, you will DIE. Or so it seems, since you can’t leave off your PDA for a couple of hours. You might have noticed that there are about 20 people belted into seats crammed into the 10 feet of space right around you, and we can’t escape your love-fest, as much as we might want to. It’s nauseating. Stop it.
  3. The Jersey Shore takes to the air. Some folks still get dressed up to travel. And that’s cool! Apparently looking snazzy and put together can score you an upgrade at the gate sometimes, and everyone likes to feel pretty. But you, girl in jeans so tight they look to be painted on, sparkly halter top, 3 lbs of makeup and the tallest heels I’ve ever seen not on a stripper…you should maybe rethink your strategy. You do not look hot as you awkwardly toddle along the concourse with your zebra-print bag bumping along after you. You look like you’re trying not to fall over.
  4. Angry guy in line to board. I know, it’s ridiculous that they’ve just gotten through the Zone 2 passengers, and they’re already out of overhead space. This is what happens when airlines charge $25 to check a bag, and everyone flying decides to pack as much as possible into a slightly-too-large carry-on roller bag. You seem to have done the same thing as the rest of us, I see by your stuffed expandable briefcase and carry on bag. They are willing to gate-check the excess! We’ve gotten around that $25 expense! Woo! Now stop grousing, and huffing, and heaving sighs as though begin separated from your luggage for 2 hours is a great injustice. You’re only making this process more unpleasant for everyone. Get a grip.
  5. Opinionated guy talking politics (et al) in-flight. Much like the couple across the isle trying to inhale each other’s faces, you are just too close for everyone’s comfort. You seem to be unaware that you are surrounded by people on every side, or that your voice carries easily the length of the plane. There’s a good chance that your abrasive, intense assessment of American politics is going to piss off about half of those people, excite about half, and annoy anyone left over. Everyone ends up riled up, trapped in close proximity to dozens of strangers, feeling uncomfortable and irritated by the whole experience. Ditto for discussions about divisive religious issues, overly-detailed personal stories, medical/physical details about you or anyone you know, and awkwardly doomed-to-fail pickup attempts on the person sitting next to you. Hush.

I’m sure I’ve left some people out of this list. Feel free to chime in with your own in the comments!

Next time, a much more positive, less angry-sounding post, promise. 🙂 Perhaps I’ll tell you about my 30th Birthday in California, or my summer musical plans!

A Day in Monterey

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Today Abby, baby Genesis and I headed down the coast a bit to Monterey. The drive down was gorgeous, and it was amazing to watch the landscape change from mountains to redwoods to dunes and farmland…there is a lot going on in this state, for sure. We arrived around lunch time and were starving, so we quickly parked by the beach and took a stroll down the fisherman’s warf.

The place is lined with restaurants (didn’t think to get a picture of this–you’ll just have to believe me that it’s intense), all basically with the same menu at the same price point, all offering the same view off the two sides of the pier. In our first few steps, we were stopped by a girl standing outside one of these restaurants, offering clam chowder samples out of a vat in a cart. A little surprised, we happily accepted, and sipped our little plastic cups (it really was delicious) while she told us all about how stroller friendly they were, about the beautiful ocean-view table she had for us, and gave us a card for a free calamari appetizer. We decided to walk all the way down the strip before deciding.

As soon as we turned away from her, though, we realized that her tactic was not at all unique. Outside of every restaurant was a man or woman offering samples of THEIR chowder and talking up THEIR eateries. Since we were still holding our little sample cups, we were immediate targets for the “Come on over here and compare” pitch. One could easily, we soon realized, eat a whole meals’ worth of chowder in samples just walking down the pier. It was a bit intimidating, but sorta hilarious too.

We avoided getting another chowder sample and walked to the end of the pier, where I got to meet my first seals and sea lions outside of a zoo. They were really fun to watch for a few minutes. Most were lounging in the sun on a wooden platform, but others had formed a sort of…seal clump in the water, and were just floating on their backs with flippers sticking up out of the water. A boat came through, and had to come to a full stop and drive around them.

After seal-gawking for a few minutes, we chose the path of least resistance and returned to that first restaurant for lunch (much to the delight of the chowder-hawker out front). This turned out to be a fantastic idea; the food was delicious. The free calamari did not suck (I was a bit surprised by this) and our blackened fish sandwiches were wonderful. We chatted, watched a seagull hang out on the window next to us, and enjoyed a nice leisurely lunch while Genesis continued napping.

Eventually, though, she did wake up, and we headed on over to the Monterey Aquarium, which is awesome. I especially enjoyed the jellyfish exhibit, and the huge tank with sturgeon, seven-gilled sharks and lots of other fishies. So cool. There were a lot of beautiful tanks there, and we had a great time. Sadly, due to dogged interference by a small boy intent on violently splashing, I didn’t get to pet a ray, which was a drag. But, I DID get to pet a sea cucumber, which was…sorta gross actually. Not slimy, just squishy feeling.

After the aquarium we made a brief stop at The Twisted Stitch so I could get my yarn fix (you didn’t really think I’d be able to come home without finding a yarn shop, did you?). I had a lovely chat with the proprietor, Dawn, about the rationalization of vacation yarn as souvenir rather than stash, and she helped me pick out an appropriately California yarn. We did, however, find perfectly good reasons for me to buy yarns from Europe (she’s from Whales, and Europe is right next to Whales, so it’s basically all the same thing), from Australia (she has an accent, so an argument could be made, since they also have accents), or from Lorna’s Laces, because they started out in California. Smart woman, Dawn. I did manage to limit myself to one skein, but only by exercising self control.

It has really been a lovely day. But I’m being called to the table, where Abby’s brother has crafted a home-made BBQ sauce for grilled chicken, and then we’re going for FroYo. Yup, life is hard out here. 🙂

Californication

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Good morning from Los Angeles! I’m sitting in Terminal A three hours early for my flight out to San Jose, sipping a giant earl grey (yay!) and reluctantly munching on a really bad bagel (boo). It’s been an eventful couple of days out here on the west coast!

Until this weekend I’d never been further west than Oklahoma City, unless you count South Korea, which is, of course, considered the far east. So this week, I decided to combine a competition in southern California, a visit to see my friend Abby and meet this beautiful baby:

and another competition in North Carolina into one airport-heavy vacation week.

My adventure started with a 4 am drive to the Philadelphia airport, which I have to thank my husband for. He’s a champ. The flight out was uneventful, but seemed very long. I’ve been on a number of double digit-hour international flights, and, while they are always long, this one seemed to drag on more than those. I can partially blame this on the lack of in flight food and entertainment to distract me. Delta apparently doesn’t offer its passengers with food beyond the obligatory bag of peanuts or cookies and half a can of soda. You can buy things like Pringles, or sandwiches or little cheese and fruit platters for an exorbitant amount, of course. Just as you can pay $6 to watch a movie in-flight. I opted to play on my phone and knit instead.
That, and an ongoing game of “your neighbor’s thigh/shoulder/arm are hot lava” with the dude sitting next to me, which got old pretty fast. At first, this stranger seemed like an eye-candy gift from the airplane gods, but his manner, the fact that he wore sunglasses the entire flight (even while watching movies) and that he spent a goodly amount of time digging in his ears and flipping the resulting ick to the floor did a lot to take the shine off his looks.

I will admit to being That Tourist, taking pictures out the airplane window as we flew. But honestly, Iowa from the air is so damned surreal that I just couldn’t help myself. An endless, perfect grid of farm lands as far as the eye could see, interrupted only by the meandering of rivers, and little snarls of town. Bless you, Iowans. Your state looks hypnotically boring.

I had also never really seen deserts in person before (and I guess I still haven’t, really) so the sight of all that orangey red dryness was amazing.

I really didn’t expect to like L.A. In fact, I thought I’d probably hate it. But when I imagined the city, I had always left out the mountains. They provide this sense of scale and beauty to the city. Honestly, even though it’s enormous, and crowded, and the traffic is horrible and the smog oppressive… Los Angeles really is a beautiful place. I can see why people gravitate here. I would never want to live in this city, but it’s  place that I would love to come back and really explore.

I made the drive out to San Bernardino, where I had Pricelined myself a hotel…and was a bit bemused to find that it was in the sketchiest part of town, and seemed to be home to a large transient population. On the way in, I witnessed a colorful altercation in the parking lot, and a dude staggering in to his room clutching a 40 in a paper bag, plus the belongings of some local homeless person stuffed behind a bush by the front door. Good times. I didn’t feel unsafe, though, and having lived in Old Louisville for awhile, this kind of population was not a strange sight to me.

After wandering forth to find my first meal of the day (it was 4:30 EST, and I was about to starve to death or fall asleep or both), I headed to Redlands to rehearse with my pianist. The campus is beautiful and tiny. My pianist was friendly and patient with my exhaustion-addled brain. After a fruitful rehearsal, I went back to the hotel and slept for 12 hours straight.


Since my body, though confused, was still basically on EST, I got up early Sunday morning, and, since I didn’t sing till 3:45, I decided to go on an adventure up into the mountains. I drove up a somewhat terrifying, though incredibly beautiful highway called the “Rim of the World.” I stopped on the way up, climbed a hill and took these pictures of the valley:


This is the kind of road they use in sports car commercials–curvy, narrow and clinging to the edge of a mountain. There had been a snow storm up there the night before, and the trees were still snowy and glorious. It was interesting to start out the morning among palm trees, and within 20 minutes be amid snow-covered pines. Lucy, my rented Nissan Versa, was a champ, and we got to the top without incident.

My destination was Arrowhead Lake Village, an extremely touristy little lakeside town that seemed to be mostly rental cabins and a very nice shopping plaza. It was basically deserted, though, on a Sunday morning between ski season and the summer boating folks. I had breakfast at a waffle place on the boardwalk, and enjoyed the view.


I tried to stop and get some good photos of the snowcaps on the way down, but since it was a little later in the morning, more folks were out and there were 4X4 trucks impatiently riding my tailpipe the whole way down. I got a few pictures, but none of the massive snowy mountains off to the sides.


I went back to the hotel, did my hair and makeup, then headed to campus to walk around and explore some more before my performance time. The campus is very sweet, with lots of big trees (palm and not) and big green lawns. I ran across a sizable
orange orchard next to the tennis courts…because of course. The smell was amazing, since most of the trees were still in bloom. The bees thought so, too, so I kept a respectful distance.

I performed pretty well, despite having some ensemble issues in my Bellini aria. There was a red-headed baritone from CCM who sang right before me, and who offered that damned Figaro aria. He sang it very well, and since its hart to beat something so familiar and humorous, I wasn’t sure I’d make the final round.

While waiting for the results, I went out for frozen yogurt–and shattered my phone when it fell from a bathroom sink. Blast. Amazingly, the touch screen still works, so I went and bought a roll of packing tape, and taped over the shattered glass. It only has to last till later today when I can get to an Apple store in San Jose. Bummer, but I’m lucky that it didn’t die completely, since I’ve been using it not only to keep in touch, but as a map to get around.

I bought some microwavable stuff for dinner, and headed back to the hotel, not expecting to make finals. To my happy surprise, I did, and my dinner was abandoned while I went back out to sing again. I had not been totally happy with my afternoon performance, so I was happy to get a second shot. I killed it the second time around, though I got cut off by the timer just as the story in the aria was getting really good. The red-headed baritone from CCM also made the finals, and sang extremely well, so I wasn’t sure which of us would prevail.

Fun fact about competitions with pianists: they all play the same damned piece. Sure, it’s by different composers, and different musical periods and all that, but every single one of them will play something bombastic with a million runs and acrobatic dexterity. Its amazing, sure, to hear all those very talented musicians at the top of their game. But look…9 people is a lot to hear the same kind of piece over and over again. Naturally, the ones the audience seemed to respond to best were those that chose something a little off the beaten path–the teenager who played Ginastera’s Cajun Dances, for instance, or the one who just went for the direct approach and played Debussy’s Fireworks. At any rate, it was midnight EST by the time everyone had performed, and I was sleepy enough to not care much who won. I just wanted to go back to bed.

I made friends with a pianist from Loma Linda at the reception waiting for results, and was dismayed to note that none of the vocalists seemed willing to speak to each other. C’mon people. I know that it’s not unusual for singers to act like this at competitions or at auditions, but an air of aloof superiority really isn’t very attractive. The results came in, finally, and I was thrilled to find that they had chosen two winners from the vocal category instead of one! Both the CCM baritone and I will be returning this summer for the festival concert. My pianist friend won too, and rushed over to share a big congratulatory hug. 🙂

So I’ll be spending my 30th birthday back out here in California at the 61st annual Redlands Bowl Summer Music Festival! I can’t wait. 🙂

Now, this blog entry is going to be quite long enough, and though I still have an hour and a half before my flight, I’m going to sign off here and go start the book I bought, Fenny on the Couch. More updates to come from San Jose/San Fransisco, and then from the Long Leaf Opera competition in NC!

Learning Curve

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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!