Tough Questions

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📅 Published on June 3, 2010

I recently posted a list of questions from Wolf Trap Opera’s blog about pursuing a career in the performing arts. I think these questions are great for anyone, in any career, but I just had to answer them for myself and I chose to share my answers with you (to keep me accountable)? May my responses, but most of all the questions, inspire you and challenge you.

Who are you trying to please?
Whomever I am singing for. When that is an audition, the auditioner. When it is a performance, my fellow performers and the audience. In general, I sing to please myself – it is what satisfies me.

Are you trying to make a living, make a difference, or leave a legacy?
I think with singing, I am trying to make a living (even though I know it is nearly impossible). I know this is the wrong answer.

Where is your team – the people you trust?
Always at the end of a telephone line… my parents, and several of my friends. Also my voice teachers.

What does busy look like?
For me, the question is: What does TOO busy look like? If I don’t have at least one day a week to sleep in and spend mostly taking care of myself, I am too busy.

Choose: challenge your colleagues, or just do what they ask.
This is a challenge. First of all, because everyone I work with should be my ‘colleague’. Everyone working on a performance project is working together towards a common goal. This is the first way I need to change my thinking… I tend to evaluate people based on the power they have and then respond with more or less submission to their ideas or instruction. I need to learn to be flexible, but to be an equal partner in the creative process.

Are you prepared to actively sell yourself?
Another challenge. I think one of my strengths is my ability to market myself, but marketing and selling a product are two different things. I must learn as quickly as possible to recognize my real value as a singer and to accept payment and recognition for it.

Which: to invent a category or to be just like [insert name of famous singer here], but better?
I think both of these statements defines me, and I think that’s good. I have a clear idea of myself as an artist and what my unique offerings are, but I also have role models and good examples that I follow.

How close to failure, wipe out and humiliation are you willing to fly? (And while we’re on the topic, how open to criticism are you willing to be?)
What is failure? Feeling like you have failed is hard; being humiliated is harder; but failure has frequently been proven to lead to success. I don’t think myself afraid of failure.

Is perfect important? (Do you feel the need to fail privately, not in public?)
Perfect is not important, but excellence is, and if I feel like I did not present my ‘excellent’, I am quite distraught. A perfect example of not perfect but excellent is Isabel Bayrakdarian’s disc, Gomidas Songs. Beautiful, touching, expressive she is on this disc – but her voice is far from perfect. It is HER. That is what I strive for. No one wants perfect, and I cannot possibly give perfection. My audiences want to see ME.

How long can you wait before it feels as though you’re succeeding?
Age 30.

Are you done personally growing, or are you willing to change and develop?
I am counting on the fact of change!


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