I recently spent part of a voice lesson discussing college choices, majors, and life plans with one of my students. It got me thinking about the choices I made and what I might do differently knowing what I know now. I have far too much to say on this subject for just one post, so this will be the first in a series of entries.
When I was finishing high school and making huge decisions that would determine the course of my adult life, I had no idea what I was getting into. I wanted to be an opera singer, and I didn’t care what anyone said. I’m not saying that I wish I had done things differently, but I wish I had at least done my research.
Most importantly, I wish I had known what I was choosing, so that I could have been prepared for it. Specifically, what does the path to being a professional opera singer look like? When I choose this career, what does that mean for the next ten years of my life? You can find an excellent answer to that question here: What does an operatic career look like? Building a career as a professional singer takes time, money, determination, and lots and lots of auditioning. For more on auditioning, read this: How much did your last job interview set you back?
The thing is, getting an opera career off the ground takes money. Quite a bit of money. You’ll need audition/performance outfits, not to mention the money for application fees, accompanists, travel expenses, and tuition fees for the “pay to sing” programs that give you the experience needed to be considered for the paying gigs. Assuming that you don’t have unlimited money at your disposal, you’ll need a steady job to fund all of this. Being an opera singer can pay the bills eventually, but you’ll need a good day job in order to make it to that point.
Building an opera career also means learning to tolerate rejection. In the beginning, you will probably be rejected a lot. It’s nothing personal, that’s just how it works. It takes time and practice to become great at auditioning. Most importantly, you have to believe in your talent and turn each rejection into motivation to keep yourself moving forward.
That being said, being an opera singer is also amazing and totally fun. And there’s also no rule that states you have to make it to the professional level to have value as a singer– there are many definitions of success. My goal here is not to discourage anyone from following his or her dreams, I only want you to plan for the challenges involved so they do not derail you.
In my next post, I’ll discuss my own experiences and struggles, how I sabotaged myself with naive enthusiasm and lack of practical preparation, and how I still would not change a thing because the music training I’ve received has made me a better person overall.