Saturday, September 26, 2009

A big thank you!

I want to thank all the folks at the University of Michigan School of Music for a great time this past week. I heard some wonderful young singers, and everyone was very welcoming. I want to particularly thank my good friend Professor Stephen Lusmann for inviting me!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Here's a one page audition "cheat sheet".

While I have been working on a book about auditioning, I've also been preparing for masterclasses I will be doing. In preparation for a class at the University of Michigan that I am doing this weekend, I have prepared an Opera Audition Cheat Sheet, a quick guide to auditions, that hopefully can help you ask and answer some important questions - let me know what you think!

The Opera Audition “Cheat Sheet”

I. Who am I auditioning for?
a. General/Artistic Directors
b. “Pay to Sings”
c. Young Artist/Resident Artist Programs
d. Agents/Managers

II. What am I singing?
a. What is the right repertoire
b. Does age play an important factor
c. The physics of the physical side of singing
d. The “mundane” side – have your music ready to go

III. How do I look?
a. What to wear
b. What not to wear
c. The Beatles should not have still been together when your photo was taken
d. Does it really make that big a difference?

IV. How do I find out how I did?
a. Is it appropriate to contact the company/manager, etc?
b. If so, how do I approach them?
c. How do I fix a train wreck?
d. How many times do I go back?

V. How do I make it better?
a. Do I go all the way back to the drawing board?
b. Whom shall I run it by?
c. How do I re-sell it?
d. When is enough enough?

VI. Good resources
a. Musical America Yearbook -
b. Opera America -
c. New Forum for Classical Singers -
d. Yap Tracker -
e. Classical Singer -

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Remember your materials

I heard some auditions in New York this past weekend (on Sunday morning no less!!), and I must say they were very good. But it put me in mind of something - materials - with the Internet, it is true that I can copy off a digital press kit, but I might forget, and if you have an agent, they might forget, see where I'm going with this. Always make sure that you arrive at your audition with a set of materials - they will be my road map back to you or your manager if I am interested. Any number of things can turn into your "edge", even something as simple as a set of your materials.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

I'm back!

Well, a little thing called opera has kept me from the blog, but I just returned from NY, and Opera America meetings, and some very good auditions, so I will be back with a post tomorrow!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Do degrees matter?

I was recently interviewed along with some of my colleagues in Classical Singer magazine about the issue of degrees, and some of the pros and cons of advanced degrees like the DMA, etc. There is a wide range of viewpoints on degrees for singers. On the one hand, some feel that a doctoral degree may indicate that you either lack talent as a singer, or are not serious about your pursuit of a serious singing career. Some people feel you shouldn't even list them on your resume because of that. I don't have any prejudice against a particular degree from any particular institution, and I am proud of the degrees I earned. At the end of the day, my belief is that it is your audition, and not what is listed (or not listed) on a piece of paper, that will get you hired.
Back when I was doing university teaching, there was a companion belief that you shouldn't let anyone know you had a teaching job, because that would weaken the impression you made in an audition. For the record, I never hid my teaching position either.
I guess where I land on all of this, is that everyone has a story to tell of why they are where they are, and how they got there. Your life story and musical journey may be such that a DMA program is perfect for you. On the other hand, you may have a chemistry degree, and you've become a wonderful singer purely through private study. The point is, only you know what is the right path for you to take. An no matter what path that is, nothing can replace having to produce the goods when you get to the audition.