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Amateur or Professional – Which Are You?

Topic Talk

Conversation between Carol Kirkpatrick and Jose Maria Condemi recorded outside the Santa Barbara Opera, discussing topics such as how operas are cast, maintaining professionalism, how to form an emotional connection with an aria, emotional expression and how to bring out the character, and asking "Why?"

I’ve covered this subject before, but believe at this time of year when Auditioning, or as I call it, “Going to Do Your Job” season, is once again upon us its worth repeating. The important thing for you to understand is, that you are an amateur if you believe and behave like one, or you are a professional if you believe and behave as one. It’s never too early to start this process. It’s a choice you need to start considering as you move forward with your career. Even if you are a freshman in college, you must make a choice; include the idea of changing your mindset. And no one said it was going to be easy. However, it will become the path you take. So, let me lay out some of the differences:

    1. Amateurs stop when they achieve something. Professionals know the initial achievement is just the beginning of the journey.
    2. Amateurs have a goal. Professionals have strategies and tactics to achieve their goals.
    3. Amateurs often believe they are good at everything. Professional understand they have differing degrees of competence.
    4. Often when amateurs work with coaches/conductors they feel they are being criticized as a person. Professionals know they have weak spots and take criticism as an opportunity to get better at what they know needs work.
    5. Giving up and feeling like a failure seems to be easier for amateurs. Professionals see mistakes and failures as a path to growth and mastery.
    6. Amateurs tend to focus on the short term. Professionals always work on the long term.
    7. If things are not going well, amateurs tend to blame others. Professionals take responsibility for what they do, good or bad.
    8. Amateurs tend to be inconsistent in their practice, rehearsal and performance times. Professionals show up every day focused and ready to work, thus becoming consistent in their performance.
    9. Amateurs tend to think in absolutes. Professionals think in probabilities.
    10. Amateurs believe that the world should work the way they want it to. Professionals realize that they must work with the world as they find it.
    11. Amateurs are scared to be vulnerable and honest with themselves. Professionals feel like they are capable of handling almost anything.

There are lots of other differences but it all boils down to two things: fear and reality. Let me leave you with this food for thought: In what circumstances do you find yourself behaving like an amateur instead of as a professional. And, what’s holding you back? Are you hanging around those whose thoughts are more like an amateur? Why not instead hang around those that are enjoying the journey and always moving forward, the professionals and let that rub off on you.
Now, what’s on your mind. Avanti Carol.

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