Wednesday, December 30, 2015

New Year's Resolutions for Singers

By Lily Guerrero

Many people will make resolutions this January to eat healthier, work out more, and save money. What about singers? What can you do to shape up your brand?

1. Get organized.

Getting organized extends to many facets of your singing life. Do you have an insane amount of photocopies floating around your apartment? Buy large, three-ring binders and organize your photocopies by language. Within each binder, organize the music by the composer’s last name. That way, the next time you need to find an aria, you know where your photocopy is and you don’t have to make another copy out of your aria book. 

Is time management not your forte? Get to know your Google calendar! Schedule some practice time for yourself every day, and really stick to it. 

Are you terrible at remembering where you put all your receipts for tax purposes? Get a cute box and paperclip your receipts by type of expense so that you have them in one place when April 15th rolls around.

2. Get active in body, mind, and spirit.

We all know the many benefits of exercise, but in a world where every minute counts, use it as a multi-tasking opportunity. Before going to your day job, spend 30 minutes on the elliptical memorizing your aria or going over the text to an art song. Not only are you working your body, you’re working your brain! Incorporate breathing exercises and stretching into your practice routine. It is a great way to prepare your body to use its entire mechanism. Remember that your body is your instrument, and you need to keep it well-maintained!

3. Get in the loop.

The opera industry is your profession. Do you know whom the up and coming singers are and what they have done to get to that point? Do you know the current events in the business? Are you following all the latest news on opera blogs and magazines? You already read Sexi Soprano, so I know you’re a savvy singer! Consider getting all the latest opera gossip sent to your e-mail, so you have something to read in the morning while you sip your coffee. It’s both entertaining and informative!

4. Get in touch.

The New Year is a great time to reach out to people and send a quick hello as a networking tool. Draft a letter explaining all of the things you did the previous year, and what your career goals or plans are in the coming year. It’s always good to remind people that you exist, especially if you can do it with a handwritten letter. You never know if that church you subbed at a few months ago needs a soloist for their next big Requiem concert. Don’t forget to get in touch with previous mentors as well. They love to hear what you’re up to, and I’m sure they’ll be touched that you sent them a note with your appreciation for all they’ve done for you in the past year!

5. Get back in the game.

Maybe this audition season was disappointing for you, and you’re feeling discouraged. You didn’t place at the Met competition or get into the YAP of your choice. Give yourself a little time to grieve, but then get back in the game. You can start out with something small. Schedule your next lesson. Pick out a new aria and translate it. Find a local, low-pressure competition to enter. Remind yourself of all the reasons why you do what you do, and give yourself time to fall in love with the art form again.

What are your singer friendly New Year’s resolutions? Comment below!

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

8 Things All Singers Do During The Cold Weather Months

By Lily Guerrero

1. They drink tea like it's an elixir of magical healing

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2. They wear comforters as scarves

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3. They run away from anyone who coughs or sneezes

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4. They get intimate with their Neti Pot

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5. They apply insane amounts of chapstick

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6. They don't shake hands with anyone for fear of germs

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7. They don't go outside unless it's for a voice lesson or rehearsal

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8. And finally, they absolutely refuse to go Christmas caroling, or anything else that involves phonating on cold air

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Wednesday, December 16, 2015

The Gift of Presence

While on a holiday concert tour last December, I was inspired to “pay it forward” at a Panera. Because it was lunchtime rush hour, the cashier was inconvenienced by my good intentions. She had to find a piece of paper, write down my credit card number, and go through a couple extra steps in order to set it up for the next customer. Not only was it a hassle, but it was a security issue! I hid behind a plant, spying on the next customer while furtively sipping tea and trying to look as much like the wallpaper as possible. The next customer wasn’t just one person; it was a family of four. However, when I checked my account later and saw the $10.42 charge, I realized they only accepted my anonymous generosity for a fraction of their lunch. From my position behind the plant, they looked more confused than grateful. But then again, that’s how most parents of small children look in public.

After lunch, I walked over to Barnes and Noble to buy a Christmas present for a friend. I picked out a book and brought it to the “Free Gift Wrapping” counter. The lady there was clearly stressed by the rapidly growing line of eager gift-givers. Unfortunately, her book-wrapping looked like the diaper job I did for my dolls when I was three. Trying to be helpful, I asked if I could re-wrap the book myself. Not only did I wound the pride of the frazzled gift-wrapper that day, but I also picked a book that my friend hated, as I would find out later. 

The whole day was full of failed attempts at goodwill. In that evening’s concert, however, I sang my heart out and gave the only gift I knew how to give well: myself. I didn’t fail. That day, I realized that being the most open and generous version of myself for one hour can create more joy in and around me than one hundred Tiffany bracelets. 

Gift exchanges are wonderful and fun, but being present is the best present you could ever give to me, and it is the best present that I could ever give to you. Here are ten tips for giving the gift of presence:

  1. Put your phone away
  2. Notice something new about the person you’re with
  3. Smile at strangers. Yes, even in NYC!
  4. Take time for yourself 
  5. Give compliments
  6. Carry around small things to share when you notice someone in need: throat lozenges, chocolate, gum, etc.
  7. Replace social media time with face time 
  8. Walk slower 
  9. Look up, not down at the ground
  10. Learn a few jokes and share them 

“If nature has made you for a giver, your hands are born open, and so is your heart; and though there may be times when your hands are empty, your heart is always full, and you can give things out of that--warm things, kind things, sweet things--help and comfort and laughter--and sometimes gay, kind laughter is the best help of all.” 
Frances Hodgson Burnett, A Little Princess

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

LIVE Webinar With Christine Goerke

Missed our LIVE webinar with Ms. Goerke!? Watch the replay!

Trouble in Paradise: What to Do When Your Partner is More Successful Than You

By Lily Guerrero

Finding another singer to share your life with can be both a blessing and a curse. You have someone who understands your lifestyle, but sometimes this person becomes your competition, or worse. If they happen to have a stream of successes while your career stands idle, they could become the object of jealousy. How do you separate work from home life when you happen to share the same bed as a colleague?

1. Celebrate your differences.

Maybe you are a great Mozart soubrette, while your partner excels at the serious stuff like Verdi and Wagner. Celebrate the blend of flavors that is your relationship, and remember, if you feel like your significant other is getting hired for more “exciting” roles and gigs, it doesn’t take away from any of the opportunities that you have.

2. Remember, you’re a team!

Their success is your success! If you are sharing a home, bills, or a bank account, their gig is your gig! Take the opportunity to rejoice in the fact that, as a couple, you are successfully “living the dream” and paying those bills by singing. Remind them that you are happy to have a successful partner and that your lives together are built on small victories and contributions from both ends.

3.  Tap into their new network for future opportunities.

If you attend any after parties or outings with your significant other, take the time to meet their cast mates, director, or conductor. A little networking never hurts, and sometimes a company can use your relationship as a marketing tool in future productions. Picture something like “star crossed lovers” or “opera’s power couple!” Just don’t go overboard with the self-promoting. Remember, you are first and foremost a guest, you are not there for an audition.

4. Communication is key!

When you are at home together, take that time to enjoy each other’s company. Problems will arise when one complains about the rough rehearsal they had that day, and the other resents the fact that they don’t have a gig of their own. However, that shouldn’t keep either one of you from talking about your problems. Remember, you’re a team! 

If you still feel that you haven’t expressed all of your concerns, keep a private journal to vent your frustrations. This goes for either person. Journaling is a great way to let your thoughts flow and find your own answers. Plus, it’s always fun to look back years later and see your crazy complaints!

5. Focus on your own strengths.

Maybe 2015 was a dry year for you. Everyone was casting for Puccini operas and you only found a few small, chamber opera gigs. That’s okay! Continue self-promoting, working on your craft, and taking auditions. Sometimes the deck does not fall in your favor, but perhaps 2016 will be full of opportunities for you. It is not a reflection of your ability if you did not get as many jobs as you were hoping. Take a look back at how far you’ve come, and get excited for all the future opportunities! Sometimes, it is best to keep the blinders on and only focus on yourself. Don’t worry about what your partner is doing, they have their own race to run!

It’s hard to watch someone climb the ladder of success faster than you, but always remember, you love this person for who they are and not what they do for a living. Not everyone gets to make a career out of what they love, and not everyone finds a partner with whom to share their life. Luckily, you have both!