Theatre & Opera Magazine

Opera University: Auditions 101 (week 4)

Posted on the 15 November 2011 by Pinkall @pinkall
Week 1 - Ego
Week 2 - Self-Promotion
Week 3 - The Audition
The Life of an Artist
"Passion = Lots of Rejection, Little Pay, Long Hours, and Happiness"

Perhaps you have a similar profession, but the life of an artist is not easy.  Essentially, artists are trained to express themselves in abstract ways - and in my case, singing.  And it is not only the expression, but the way it is expressed that is what's most meaningful.  For some arts, perfection is idolized, for others it is ingenuity.  All of the arts have their own rules, but in the end, it comes down to an idea and how it is conveyed.

For most people, they go to local stores to find wall decor - "art" - because it "looks pretty".  It may look gorgeous, I'm not arguing that, but if you are not observing it in a way that is expressing something, then it really isn't art - it's a craft.  All this means is that it is created for a specific purpose - e.g. plugging up a blank spot or hole that you punched in the wall.
Now, not all artists think this way, some just sing because they're great at it.  But, the business of it all is centered around these crazy ideas of expression and perfection.  Perfection is a tough thing to accomplish!  But all of this is highly enjoyable for most artists, because it is a work that even on the worst days we still enjoy doing.  Many have a misconception that an artist's days are filled with having fun and goofing off, but that couldn't be further from the truth.  They are long hours of micromanagers perfecting something for the sake of "art".  We know not everyone will view what we do artistically (they may go to the opera because their wife made them) but I have worked in construction, in education, in churches, in Boy Scouts, in all kinds of fields, and the hardest working and most devoted workers that I know are all musicians.  And, they love it!  The hardest part is dealing with the rest of life.
In general, we pay money to have companies reject us many times over, have to deal with family/friends asking us about the eventual rejections, get crappy pay for highly competitive gigs, are constantly critiqued in every possible way by reviews and by other musicians, work the strangest schedules (my rehearsal schedule today is 2pm-11pm), work weekends, have gigs on all the major holidays, hours of practice in solitude, AND THEN pay the bills, car loans, eat, sleep, write your blog entry, etc.  It can be very unforgiving.
For those interested in living "the life", just know what it takes.  It takes sacrifice - you probably won't see your friends for long periods of time, and they will probably stop calling you and asking you to do things assuming that you are too busy.  It takes guts - you are of course letting the world judge you constantly.  It takes pride - because you may be the only one who understands how hard it was to get that bad-paying gig in the Middle-of-Nowhere, America.  It takes devotion, and it certainly helps when you have a great support structure (e.g. family, friends).
I have heard several times about the difficulties of being a singer and being married.  Of course, mostly divorced people gave the lectures, but in general, it is difficult.  The obvious difficulties are work, eat, sleep, talk, and travel schedules, but besides that, it's a piece of cake!  I know everyone has unique difficulties with their own lives and marriages, but I have to give a ton of credit to my wife, for letting me do what I do.  She has to put up with a LOT of troubles, and she certainly doesn't get enough credit or attention from anyone for her devotion.  It can be annoying when people are only interested in your husband's weird profession and don't ask her what she has to go through, or just how her life is going, and yet she still is very supportive and devoted!  What a gal!
So, it's a tough life, but certainly not impossible, and it is very very rewarding.  You get to do what you love to do, and you make people happy along the way.  It truly is very rewarding.
Yesterday, I was the tenor soloist for a production of Messiah by the East Hill Singers.  This was one of the most amazing groups that I have ever performed with.  The singers were a mix of local singers and prisoners from the federal penitentiary in Lansing.  They genuinely love to sing (Handel no less), make amazing music for hundreds of people, and then get to meet with their families and friends for a moment after the concert.  They are genuine people with big souls, giving their service and lives to something bigger than themselves.  What an amazing experience!
Opera University: Auditions 101 (week 4)
Finally, I have many schedule additions.  Please check my website for more information -  I will have a lot more about future stuff next week!

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