Happy New Year! Want to kick the New Year off with a tune-up! Here are some ideas to help refresh your re-start button.
Ever get tired of trying to figuring out how to get your foot in the door that will really take you to the next step in your career. Sometimes you might get overwhelmed by the many choices available and then wonder if any of them is right for you. Because you are not sure you might try a buck shot approach – trying a little of this and a little of that, thinking you will discover the secret. However I have heard too many stories of aspiring artists losing faith in themselves and their talent after having used this method. They get all excited about a workshop or class they just spent time, energy and money on, realizing all they got from it was what to do. Often times they already know what to do, but not how to do it. They grow weary from putting themselves out there and getting nowhere. Frustration sets in. They become discouraged and depressed at their seeming lack of judgment.
So, how does one go about creating a career path that keeps you in possession of your own power, and moves you toward your goal of having the type of singing career you want? I’ve heard from my own students that they feel confused and unsure which programs are worth their time, energy and money. As with many of my students, most aspiring artists are supplementing their income with either a full or part time job, and they feel that adding something else to their plate is a real financial challenge. Yet there is a sense that you have to try to do everything right now or be left behind. Here’s a newsflash – just because it is there, doesn’t mean that you need to partake! Stop – breathe – think! Ask yourself exactly what you will gain and benefit from this. Or do you want to forever have to prove to the world, performance after performance, audition after audition, that you are better than everyone else?
Take the time you need to truly evaluate where you are right now on your career path, and what you really need to help you move forward. Give yourself a sense of direction unique to your needs. What would be useful for you right now? What is the missing link for me personally? Let’s take a realistic look at what one really needs to do or possess to have a career.
I think one of the most important factors in putting this all together is to know who you are from the inside out!! Think about it – you are the product, right? So start by conducting an honest evaluation of yourself and learn who you are. Know and understand your strengths and weaknesses. There is no better or worse, right of wrong to this. Everyone has a unique set of inner systems, patterns and traits so figure out yours and how you work best. How much can you comfortably put on your plate each day physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually and financially? Then get just that done. Do you need a process or are you better at options. Are you more motivated by the carrot or the stick or do both play a role and if so, how does that work best just for you? Is change difficult for you and if so, how do you go about stepping outside this comfort zone time and time again?
“I wanted a perfect ending. Now I’ve learned, the hard way, that some poems don’t rhyme, and some stories don’t have a clear beginning, middle, and end. Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what’s going to happen next. Delicious Ambiguity.” ~ Gilda Radner
Obviously, you have to possess a great natural instrument plus have great musical and dramatic instincts and an ear for languages. Now it’s time to hone these talents by achieving a very solid vocal technique, and recognizing and developing your musical and dramatic abilities and acquiring a durable comprehension and appreciation of languages.
Have knowledge of and comfort in your fach. Study singers past and present who sing your fach to find one with whom your own voice has great rapport. Do more than sing the appropriate arias in your fach; prepare several differing roles to find and build your confidence and understanding of how your voice works within each. Acquire resources to find proper venues to audition for at your current entry level. Think clearly and make the right choices for you. This is not a race or a competition. Don’t be afraid to also ask for opinions from others that you trust. Then start gaining performance experience. It’s imperative that you understand that one has to practice performing to get better at it.
Utilize organizational skills and if you have trouble with this you might want to try mind-mapping. This is a mind-blowing way to create, record and organize your thoughts and ideas. Start by writing the subject of your inquiry in the center of the page and then as thoughts come to mind, jot them down anywhere on that same page all around the center word. They don’t have to have any order or even make sense as you are doing this. Then when you feel you have pretty much exhausted that subject, start circling and connecting together the thoughts and ideas that seem to create a solid objective to expanding your ability to better organize and plan. This just might give you the knack and balls to think outside the box.
Write a realistic plan of action that works just for you on your time schedule. This is not a contest; both the tortoise and the rabbit crossed the finish line. The rabbit did it his way and wore himself out going back and forth to make sure the tortoise wasn’t beating him and the tortoise was only thinking about putting one foot in front of the other, just keeping it slow and steady. So which way works for you? Commit to following through and staying the course. If you haven’t already, try planning for only one week at a time. That is more doable and keeps you from those horrible mind games. Take one thing from your weekly list and add it to your daily “to do” list – “pick up suit at the cleaners, buy milk, cat food, get 10 Flat Rate Mailing Envelopes and stamps at the PO”. For the next day you might add: start creating business stationary that represents my personal brand. Your plan should fit in with your life style and your schedule, even if it becomes a little crowded. Once you have that in place you need to stay the course and not become seduced with something new until you have completed your present plan. Then you can reevaluate, once again, where you are right now, what your needs are right now and plan for only the next step. It then becomes one positive step at a time.
Put together a professional PR Packet. That means resume – short bio – photo – reviews – letters of recommendation (only if required) letter of introduction. Make sure that your materials are the very best you can afford and that they are on your professional stationary with your name and how to get in touch with you on each piece. (even your photo) Present them in a folder that maintains your band.
All businesses are about creating and maintaining relationships. Ask anyone who is in business. So start developing great business relationships that will require some taking care of. You will have to keep them updated on your upcoming events and then let them know how they went. Just a short email will do. That means creating a Professional Email list. When you send this email out you can send the original to yourself and blind copy the others. Don’t use their name in the greeting or body of the note. Just say something like, “Hi, as promised, I just wanted to keep you updated about my upcoming performance of ???? on ??? at ??? I hope you can make it”. All the best, and your name.
“Restlessness and discontent are the first necessities of progress.” – Thomas Edison
If you are feeling down and beat, often it is because you have somehow given your power away to someone or something outside of yourself. It’s easy to get it back, it’s just a matter of recognizing that you have given it away and then simply reclaiming it and you’re good to go. Make sure you maintain good health – mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually. If you don’t, who will? And when one takes a journey, all aspects of keeping in good health are primary in making it worthwhile.
Make sure you value Commitment, Self Discipline, Consistency and establish Balance in your life.
Auditioning is not a competition; it’s collaboration because everyone involved is looking for a match in both being hired and hiring. And how about your relationship with the audience? (More on this subject in a future newsletter.)
You know better than anyone, your wants, needs, capabilities, strengths and weaknesses. You know instinctively when you can trust someone and when you can’t. Deep down you know when something is right for you or not. So start believing in yourself. And after reviewing the material above, analyze what you are personally in need of gaining, honing or nurturing to be successful, and one by one, find the mentors, teachers, workshop(s) or contacts that will help you accomplish these things. And remember, as you travel along your individualized path that you are not competing against any other singer. It can throw you off course and set those wheels spinning in place again as you worry about where you are in comparison to those around you instead of concentrating on what you need to do to get you where you want to go one small step at a time.
“Focus on competition has always been a formula for mediocrity.” – Daniel Burrus
And yes, you have to make sacrifices above and beyond what most anyone else working toward a career has to face. But if it’s what you want, suck it up and do the work. Don’t use excuses. Like Yoda says, “There’s no trying, either do it or don’t.” So, start putting all the pieces of your puzzle together and stick to your own plan of action with clarity and conviction. You will cut through the chaos and frenetic feeding frenzy of everything and everybody else that is going on around you. You may feel you are moving in slow motion, but remain steady and true to your path. When you make this kind of educated commitment to a process that works for you, you cut the time of transition from aspiring artist to young professional in half. Know you are a success because you realize you don’t have to beat anyone at anything to reach you own goals and dreams on your very own doable time schedule. It is all up to you. Happy New Year!
Ciao and Avanti! Carol