(My orals and vocal lit. final went well- one more music history exam, three more concerts/graded performances, 6 more student juries, 25 more voice students grades to submit, 107 more TA final exams to grade and submit, one more flight to middle America to go.)
All of these musings can be found in some form on nfcs, but since I'm almost finished with this second degree, and have been auditioning for a number of years, I'll be so bold as to summarize my thoughts on the post-school, pre-professional stage.
Yes! You're a young artist! You are officially making money by temping, waiting tables, admin. asst., banks, travel agencies, anything that will pay the 9-5! You're also trying to fit in voice lessons with your teacher, who is now somehow really busy with all of her grad and undergrad students, and can only see you every third Saturday. The coaches you worked with for free in grad school now charge you for their time, and even your school library won't let you borrow scores and recordings now that you've exited their hallowed halls!
1. Do you have it together?
Did you happen to be able to learn your 5 arias in undergrad/grad school, prepare them, coach yourself into them and out of them, be able to sing them standing on your head or after eating some bad sushi?
Well, congrats! You can now try to send your resume, headshot, thirty five bucks, demo cd, AND copy of your birth certificate to one of the many tiers of young artist summer and residency programs! Along with the 1,100 OTHER soprano applications that they will be receiving by the October 12th deadline, yours will be right there with pretty glossy pics and a sparkling resume (hopefully you have enough former engagements from grad school and community work and even concerts with orchestra, that they'll give your application a chance).
Yes, you'll spend all of August bookmarking the websites where the applications will be ready. Then you spent the first two weeks of September printing, reprinting, forgetting what rep. you put down that you would sing on December 18th, getting your RECOMMENDATION letters!!, photocopying and burning cds.
From this, hopefully between Nov.28th and December 20th you'll be invited to NYC or another major city near where you live and work to audition for anywhere between one and twenty-one summer and residency programs.
2. Why summer programs even if they pay only enough for you to get by for that week?
Contacts, Names, Resume building, chances to cover, chances to meet other singers your age and see what level they are, chances to work with new: coaches, teachers, directors, conductors ALL of whom will get a handy "contact sheet" at the end of the summer and whom YOU can stay in touch with through friendly email or letter, to let them know that you're still alive and you are still singing!
3. Why residency programs? Well, hmmm--- If I were being paid close to 30 thou a year to sing or cover, I'd go!!! Even to programs that don't pay as well as $32thou, as long as you're not "losing" money, I'd say- GO! You can get a part-time job, but now you get free coachings, lessons, and hey! You get to actually be around professionals, see how they work, cover, sing on a stage, work with a real opera company no matter what letter the career guide says their budget is.
4. If not residency programs, what city are you in? And are you making the best of it?
I used to think that this plan would be what I'd do (because I didn't think I'd get accepted to a residency)-- I would live and work in ---- (not NYC). There is a great music scene there. There are X number of opera houses that I could do chorus or comprimario roles with. There are X number of smaller regional/community houses where I could do leaving roles if I got my foot in the door. There are X number of orchestras looking for soloists. There are X number of schools where I could choose good teachers from. There are X number of singing I know there already who are doing well, and I could hook up with to start some sort of rotating performance concert or recital rep. performances with. There are ..you get the picture.
But you HAVE to do this! You can't just say you're moving to NYC and going to make it as a singer.
Too many people I know have done that, gotten a great solid job that pays all of the nyc bills, and are now working more than they are singing. And if they're ok with that, great.
If not, then maybe rethink that move, or a move to any city where EVEN though you want to be a singer, you will have to get a long hour, long day, good paying job that may end up taking more time than you want it to.
5. Back to life as an unpaid-trying-to-make-it singer. Keep track of every audition you do, whom it was for, where it was, what you sang. Duh. Do you really want to be offering the same starter piece 3 years in a row? If it's really your best and nothing else can comare, then I suppose yes. If not, try to rotate the rep. a little.
Oh yea, and thank you yaptracker.com for the new and easy way to do this, rather than having running tallys or Excel or Word and forgetting to fill them in half of the time.
6. Cover letters. Short. Sweet. I am this. This person asked that I get in touch with you. I sang this. I would be very interested in auditioning for you on This date. Thanks. Encl: Resume, Headshot, CD (and this is only for programs that ASK for a cover letter, not just a shot in the dark to some conductor or director).
So let's say you get the audition time and you can't make it. Uh oh! go to nfcs and ask if someone can switch. OR, call the admin. of the program asking if there are any cancellations or if you could switch your time. Don't call TOO much, try to do it on your own. If you still can't switch, then you either have to cancell, or show up on the day/time that you COULD sing and hope they'll hear you (if you're pleasant and not RUDE when you ask!)
But on the other hand, don't feel so lowly that when you get put on a waiting list or denied an audition for something you REAAAALLLY thought you were perfect for (if you know their season), that you don't call and ask if there are any cancellations, or if the company will be hearing people that come if there is extra time.
Yes, those arts admins are all overworked between September and November with singers calling them, and the rest of the year with trying to keep track of every one coming to the program that summer or the next year, but they WILL return your call or email (usually), and they will tell you whether there is a chance to be heard.
Just don't bug the head of the program and leave THEM voice messages about wanting feedback ten times after your audition. (Can't say I followed this advice so much during my FIRST year of auditioning).
I just put a 4 (a) in here, because I realized how late I am to get to my study session.
Today: Romantic and 20th Century.
Yesterday: Renaissance, Baroque and Classical.
Tomorrow: Remember them all PLUS be able to write an essay about each time period and identify way too much music from each time period.