It’s May 20th, blogosphere, which means that it is my four-year voice-iversary, and I am singing like an absolute boss. I wrote about my three-year voice-iversary last year, and I figured that despite my “totally understandable neglect” of this blog and my erstwhile readership, I should commemorate this day by writing a little something.
I actually can’t believe how far I’ve come in the last year–even just since moving back to Chicago in October. I started studying with a new teacher and working with a new coach. I did three competitions in March and did my healthy vocal cords credit by taking home a first place win, a scholarship and recital prize, and a second place win. Not too shabby. And then last weekend, thanks to that prize money from March, I hopped on a plane and did my first real young artist program audition in Florida–and was offered a contract to be an Artist in Residence from January to April. I’ll also be making my professional operatic debut in September, as Suor Genovieffa in Puccini’s Suor Angelica; with a local company, and before that heading back to Buxton to sing my dream G&S role–Elsie in The Yeomen of the Guard.
I’m having a true Disney moment as I write all of this.
All I can think of is that moment in Pocahontas; when Grandmother Willow dips one of her branches in the water and creates a ripple effect–and she says, “So small at first, then look how they grow. But someone has to start them.”
My surgery was the beginning of all of this. Once my cords were healthy, I could start figuring out my technique; once my technique was in order, I could start auditioning. Then of course one of my auditions took me to France for a year, where I realized that maybe my technique was not quite as in order as I thought, and I once again started from scratch, watching my mouth change shape in a Monoprix hand mirror while I vocalized every day in my little oven of a room in Paris. If I hadn’t gone to Paris for a year, I wouldn’t have improved my French diction to the point of being mistaken for a native (still my proudest moment of the whole experience), which was a real contributing factor to my success in those competitions in March…which gave me the gumption to put myself out there for more auditions.
Anyway, if I have any advice for other singers (maybe younger singers), it’s this: take the time to find out who you are vocally and artistically, and LOVE WHAT YOU HAVE TO OFFER. My voice teacher recently accused me (in jest, of course) of loving the sound of my own voice–but you know what? I’m going to own that. It’s like when John, Paul and George say, “What do you see when you turn out the light?” and Ringo says, “I can’t tell you, but I know it’s mine.” I love my voice–it’s uniquely my own, part of a body that is different from everyone else’s. I find that loving the sounds that come out of my mouth when I open it to sing makes it hard to criticize the rest of me (though not impossible–I’m only human, after all!).
Some might call me out for my ego, but as Sir Joseph Porter has it, “Proper self-respect, nothing more!” I think if you can love the sounds you’re making, that will project out to the judges/audition panel/artistic director/audience. I firmly believe that a lot of my recent success is attributable to how happy it makes me every time I get to open my mouth and make beautiful sounds.
So yeah. I treated my very happy and healthy vocal cords to a nearly-authentic pain au chocolat; at Pret a Manger this morning before work, and in a remarkable twist of events, I don’t have Pinafore rehearsal tonight. Hurrah, hurrah, hurrayyyyyyy!