The life of a performer can be exciting, rewarding and encouraging. It involves lots of preparation for becoming a contender as performer, and also requires you to know the person inside the singer well so you can confidently present and represent your Personal Brand when it comes time to sell your product especially in an audition situation. Whether you are hopefully applying for an audition of any kind or have received conformation that you have an audition, one of the hardest parts of doing business comes when we are either denied the chance to audition or don’t get hired for that job or win that competition. Sometimes there is feedback, criticism, or one hears nothing at all. According to most people in the profession, one of the hardest parts about being a performing artist is this constant “rejection”. This rejection usually has nothing to do with your talent or you personally but is more often based on something you simply can’t control – it might be that you’re too short, too fat, too tall, too pretty, too white, too black, too young, too old, or too whatever.
This is a reality of the performing game and for those willing to dedicate their lives to their craft you must realize it is truly part of the game and something that comes with the territory. But, that usually doesn’t make it any easier to accept. The faster you come to realize that hearing ‘no’ is simply a part of the auditioning dramatics, the faster you can overcome any negative feelings related to the experience and make a choice as to how you want to deal with it and be able to move successfully to the next audition.
Most artists will get turned down for most jobs most of the time. You could have the most glorious voice, splendid vocal technique, language skills, acting ability and more and still be overlooked. But, you should not take this as a comment on your ability. It just indicates that those hiring or adjudicating have a particular objective, idea, type they are looking for on that day. It is all very subjective because everyone has their own taste. I reiterate, whether it’s feedback we’ve asked for, an unsolicited remark or a simple “no”, the results of an audition or submission process, criticism and rejection are a huge part of our lives as creative artists. Knowing how to overcome the negative thoughts and feelings you might have after such an ordeal can make you stronger by giving you the power to choose how you want to deal with “rejection’. Strangely enough, when you become objective, you do have the resilience and confidence to weed through any criticism knowing which parts of what was said are your truth and can be used to further polish your product and discard the rest. And if there is no feedback, you won’t have to spend your time and energy second guessing and agonizing over “what if”.
“Ability is what you’re capable of doing. Motivation determines what you can do. Attitude determines how well you do it.”
~ Lou Holtz
The next time you have to handle “rejection”, remind yourself that rejection has many faces. Here are some of the reasons why you might not have gotten that job; some suggestions for getting beyond what might seem an insurmountable stumbling block caused by what others have said about you and your talent; and some ideas of how to climb back on the horse by solidifying your preparation for the next audition without allowing what was previously said to you get in your way.
Number one on the list is, never take “rejection” personally. It is not a personal affront to you. Decide consciously what to do with feedback from others before responding, instead of reacting with the first thought or words that come to mind. It’s just somebody else’s opinion and everyone is entitled to their own opinion. You could argue until doomsday and never be able to change their minds. This is the time to be gracious, respectfully listening to what is being said by giving them your full attention and keeping your own inner dialogue in check. Thank them for their suggestions, insights, etc when they are done. Then politely leave. You may or may not find some small gem of insight from the information they gave you that you can then put to good use the next time you audition.
Sometimes we’re so fearful of being criticized or rejected that we keep our creativity bottled up and don’t let it out. We have many good intentions of doing a great audition but somehow at the last minute we freeze up, our mouths get dry and we get that “deer in the headlight” stare. Our inner Brat takes over reminding us of previous criticisms and that’s that! You are no longer in control of being able to use all of your positive preparations and the audition does not go well only adding to your memory box where you store things like, “See, I told you you’re not good enough!” My suggestion is to consciously, as you enter the auditioning space, open your own personal space to include everyone in the room. Take the time to silently invite everyone into your space as you audition. It will help you feel more confident and comfortable. Do it every audition.
“The reward of a thing well done is to have done it. ”
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
It’s possible to try to second guess what we think our auditioners want to hear. You may try to adapt your audition pieces trying to impress, second guess and please those you are singing for instead of following through on the plan you put in place for this audition. This may cause you to lose your focus and toss the agenda you intended to accomplish with audition, fly out the window. You may end up feeling like you’re not truly expressing your creative impulses because you are trying to be and sound like someone else because you thought that is what the auditioners wanted to hear. Stick to your plan and be proud and excited to be and sound like you. You are unique and if you don’t express yourself, give your interpretation of an aria or song, unleash your particular sound, your uniqueness will never be expressed. No one else but you can offer what you have to offer.
You have gotten greedy and feel you can’t pass up any and all auditions that came your way, so you try doing 2-3 auditions in one day. Keeping your energy up for that many auditions becomes a feat of its own and can create more nerves, and unsteady situations than one can realistically handle. It’s better to know which audition is the best for you right now; the one where you have a real chance of getting the job, winning the audition, etc. Pick the right one for that day. Sometimes, if you already have an important audition on a day that another opportunity to audition shows up, you can contact the second audition and see if there is any chance you could do it at a later date.
“Do or do not. There is no try. ”
Instead of starting the audition with the aria that works best for you and helps to settle your nerves, you listen to those going before you and decide on another aria that isn’t as polished or ready as the other often resulting in not such a great audition. It’s best to stick to the plan. Your first aria should always be what shows you off the best, the one that you could wake from a hard sleep at 3 am, stand up and sing like a pro. Having sung your first aria well gives you confidence and courage when asked for a second. And if you are not asked for a second, you know within yourself that you have presented yourself at your best for right this moment. This makes any feedback given by others easier to listen to even if you don’t agree.
If you are auditioning for a specific role you can say you would like to warm up or start with a different aria or would you mind if I started with…… That gives you an opportunity to get settled and know how the sound in that room works for you. Then move on to the arias from the opera you are auditioning for.
Stay away from looking for a specific outcome for an audition. You will almost always be disappointed if you do. Go prepared, present yourself well sing your best and leave. Stick to your plan, your agenda for that particular audition. That’s all you can do. Then get ready to move on to the next audition, performance, lesson or coaching.
“You will never plough a field if you only turn it over in your mind. ”
~ Irish Proverb
If for some reason you really flubbed up, when you get out of the audition space, give yourself a set time period, perhaps 10-15 minutes to get down and dirty and really beat yourself up. Hopefully it will be someplace you can talk out loud. That works best. After the 10-15 minutes are up you are done. Move on to the next thing. Leave all the negative self talk over there and step away from it. If you are in your apt or in your car or a cab or whatever, roll all of that negativity into an imaginary cloth bag, open a window and throw it out. You are done! Move on! There are healthy ways to cope with the hurt inherent in this profession: work out your feelings in the gym, jog, clean your apartment, go to a movie, take an extra dance class or singing lesson or coaching session, get together with friends of like mind and bitch then laugh about it all, then leave the hurt behind and move on.
Those hiring are looking for not only great talent, but someone who can put repeat butts in seats of their opera houses because you are genuine, have nice manners, are easy to get along with, have a good sense of humor, and folks like you. So pay close attention to your behavior once you enter the audition space. Your behavior during an audition is as important as your singing. So represent your Personal Brand.
Have an established routine in place that helps you feel positive, relaxed and prepared for the entire audition process. This helps take the nerves out of the entire auditioning process and will help you put any criticism or rejection into proper perspective. Today is a new day, another day you get to be an artist.
Keep in touch with your very own personal artistic community for support and venting.
“Success seems to be connected to action. Successful people keep moving. They make mistakes, but they don’t quit.”
~ Conrad Hilton
It is not unusual, no matter how well you feel you performed, not to get picked if you are auditioning in your first round of professional auditions. The first season of auditions are generally more about you introducing yourself to the professional world of opera. If you are an unknown commodity you need to let those hiring get to know you and your talent. The performing community is a small one and word travels, so be at your best on all fronts. Until you get your foot on the first rung of that proverbial professional opera latter, continue getting all the experience you can and don’t be afraid to audition for the same people again next year. Often times they are interested in knowing what’s new on your resume, how has your voice grown and also what your “rejection” level is. Did last’s years “no’s” make you quit or did it make you even more committed?
The one thing that most successful singers will tell you that they did on their road to success was that they never, ever gave up. Persistence is by far the most important virtue to have if you want to be successful as a performer. You have to believe that with each new day you are one step closer to your goal. The only way to lose is to give up along the way. So make a commitment to becoming a successful performer and more than likely you will achieve your goal.
Believe it or not, rejection makes you a stronger person. With each rejection comes new perspective and understanding. Coping with rejection means feeling the emotional pain, putting it where it belongs, and moving forward. The more times you hear and choose in a positive manner to deal with the word “no” the more confident you become. It’s a choice. You can either deal with rejection by falling into a pit of self-loathing and blame or you can look at it only as feedback. If you find similar suggestions within all of the criticisms you are getting, you might want to take a look at it.
“We either make ourselves miserable, or we make ourselves strong. The amount of work is the same.”
~ Carlos Castaneda
One can never know why you are not chosen for a job that you feel is exactly right for you. Remember that “rejection” is never personal. There are so many reasons for not getting the job. It could be political, perhaps a favor was owed to someone, they have a specific costume someone has to fit into, your voice is too big or too small to match the rest of the cast, or they just don’t like your sound, etc. It’s a very subjective industry where personal taste rules. So find your niche, commit and go for it. Remember that you can look at criticism as failure or you can look at it as feedback. It’s your choice. Try to be open to the possibility that this “rejection” is actually leading you to something else, usually better than what you thought you wanted. Some one might be recommending you to another company that is looking for just what you have to offer. You just never know.
Ciao for now – Avanti!