Wednesday, September 25, 2013

A Singer’s Life: On the Road

Audition season can RUIN all the hard work you have done to eat right and exercise. It’s quick and convenient to run to the nearest fast food joint and spend your hard earned money. Use these handy tips for staying healthy and stress free while traveling for auditions or gigs.

-Make a detailed list and pack a day in advance. Include everything— the perfect shoes to walk the streets of NYC, audition clothing, music, and of course, your toothbrush. Be specific, but do NOT over pack.  Lay out your clothes and narrow your picks down to what you actually need. And don’t forget to check the weather.  No one performs their best when they’re blue with cold. 

-Organize!  Go to the grocery store and pack (healthy) snacks for flights, long car or bus trips, or for long hours of waiting at Nola studios for your auditions. Save your money and yourself from buying that tempting pretzel… or that six-dollar bag of M&M’s. Buy foods that cannot be smashed and won’t leak in your bag. Aim for granola bars, nuts, firm fruits, etc.  If you plan to eat soon after you arrive at the airport, you can freeze your meats or cheeses overnight. By the time you get through security they will be ready to eat!  Just be sure to season your food heavily if you plan to do this. For more food suggestions, be sure to check out the bottom of this post.
-If you fly, remember to put all three-ounce liquids in the TSA required containers.  Place them in an outer pocket of your luggage, or keep in your purse.  If you have to open your luggage for airport security, they’re easy access. Not only do you keep the line moving, you save yourself the embarrassment and struggle of your stuff falling out of your suitcase as you frantically try to zip it closed again.
-Carry your accompanist binder and scores in your carry on.  If your luggage is lost, you can still perform.  If you know more music, bring it!  Just because it isn’t listed in your audition package doesn’t mean that someone won’t ask if you can sing Caro nome.  Right then.  If you know something, bring it just in case.
A colleague once told me about an audition where the Maestro asked her if she sang a certain aria.  She responded “Yes, but I don’t have the music with me.”  He made her leave the room to go track it down and then wait until there was another opening so she could sing again.

-Check your smaller list of items you could not pack the day before. It’s best to bring a good-sized “purse” as well as your carryon for flights. This keeps the necessities (food, medication, music, makeup, laptops, etc.) easily accessible. If you need a cute, sizeable, and affordable tote, be sure to check out Charming Charlie’s accessory store.  Those twenty-dollar bags are perfect for holding everything you need.

-Always carry on your luggage if possible.  Avoid extra fees and the nuisance of lost or delayed luggage. It’s stressful when your things are missing before an audition or gig.

ON THE PLANE… or bus or car:
-Pack your own pillow or blanket for your trip. Hotel pillows are not always cleaned adequately. Make your things work double duty and bring a coat or wrap to wear to and from the airport, then later use it as a blanket!
-Stay hydrated.  Yes, this causes extra trips to the restroom, but studies show that hydrating properly during travel can help with jet lag symptoms. Avoid soda, coffee, and alcohol.  If you can’t resist or need it to soothe your frazzled nerves, just drink in moderation.
-Keep your music within easy reach on the plane. If you have a brief memory slip (as everyone does) while reviewing in your head, you don’t have to struggle with those awkward overhead bins.  The plane, bus, or train is a great place to quietly review your score without many interruptions.

-Visit the grocery store or market ASAP to re-stock on meals and snacks.  Make your meals ahead of time to carry with you to the gig or audition.  Singing can make you ravenous—it’s easy to go for the nearest, easiest food. Keep your snacks handy to save your money and stay healthy.   

Suggested healthy snacks for traveling:
            -Almond or peanut butter with you favorite veggie
            - Dried fruits and nuts— they are very filling and keep your blood sugar up
-Oatmeal packets—these are great to bring for the hotel or friend’s house; not only are they small sized and filling, they require minimal mess and preparation (most hotels have a microwave)
-Precooked whole grain salads like quinoa, lentils, and couscous— great at room temperature (unlike lettuce, these won’t wilt), just add some nuts or fresh fruit with a little bit of dressing, shake it up, and you’re ready to eat
-Hummus— bring some veggies or pita for dipping (to keep it cool freeze the night before your trip)

-Chicken Salad— prepare and freeze it the night before; add seasoning to help keep it tasty longer