Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Branching Out

So, some exciting news:

I am now an author and blogger for Opera Vivrà!

You can check out my latest posts about Barihunks and My Desert Island Opera DVD.  I'm so excited to be a part of their team and I hope you take a journey over there to check them out.

As I've already mentioned, I'm also the music correspondent for The Millbrook Independent and you can read my articles online here.  I recently wrote about the upcoming obscure Russian opera that will have its U.S. stage premiere at Bard College.

There's a lot of writing happening this summer and I'm loving all of it.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

That Inevitable Post in Which I Talk About My Body

So, I wrote this 3 weeks ago:

"I'm currently living in Limbo Land between Classical Singing and New York in June and the Baroque Opera Workshop at the Aaron Copland School of Music.  My body is exhausted, my voice is inoperable, and I'm fighting some horrible cold/infection/thing.  Did I mention that I have a lot of Italian to memorize?

Let me quickly follow that with: I'm not complaining.  I'm not complaining simply because what I just finished and what I'm about to do are AWESOME and I actually love learning music.  It's just my body that's holding me back and this is the one thing that is giving me grief at the moment."

How often does a singer feel like their body is having a huge, and uncontrollable, impact on their performance, productivity, and/or musical self-esteem?  I think it happens quite often.

I think the greatest negative effect of this situation, besides the obvious inability to perform at peak capacity, is the stress that it causes.  And this stress affects our physical health and our emotional/mental health.  So, how can we singers avoid not only the bad effects of a less-than-perfect body, but also the ensuing stress?

First, I think we must accept the fact that we cannot control everything.  If you get a sinus infection, what can you do about it?  You can only take medicine, take care of yourself, and ride it out.  There's no cosmic button you can press or immunity you can earn that will keep you from getting sick.  But, you can accept that it's happening, and it's really not a positive thing, but it's something that will resolve and all you can do is take care of yourself until it passes.

I've heard singers say, "I don't want to sound like I'm making excuses, but..." and then follow that with things like "I have had a cold for a week now" or "I had a infection and now I have no voice" or "this allergy medicine is drying me out and I can't sing well."  Those aren't excuses!  Those are the simple facts of the situation and they are things that you had/have no control over.  So, you do your best and press on, taking care of the things that you can control (such as being prepared, being engaged, and taking care of yourself) and not stressing out over the things that you cannot.

You may be saying, "Well, that's easier said than done."  Of course it is.  Most things are easier said than done, but it doesn't make them any less of a good idea.  I think it's something to consider and work at.  I'm certainly not perfect.  I still get a bit stressed or nervous from time to time when my body holds back my singing.  But I press on and hope to do better next time.  That's all we can do, really.

So, take care of your body as best you can, prepare as best you can (always!), and take things as they come.  No performance is the end of the world or the last time you'll sing.  There will always be something else, sometime else.  And you'll rock it.  Take care of yourself, be aware of your body's needs and condition, be smart, and listen to your mentors.  We can only do so much.  There's obviously so much more to be said on this topic, but what I've covered here was my lesson this summer.

Just as an update, my voice did heal up by the time the Baroque final performance rolled around.  It was a bit scary that first day, and it was a bit shaky throughout the week, but I made healthy choices and my voice was back to normal on the day of the performance.  I've posted a video of it on my website if you'd like to check it out.