Business and personal coaches are always advising clients (and the general public) that it’s important to ‘get out of the comfort zone’ to allow change and growth. I’ve often wondered how those of us in the performing arts can apply this advice, seeing as our very choice of profession is already way outside most people’s zone of comfort in the first place…
Then again, after a reasonable amount of experience, singing in front of an audience gets easier (although the nerves never entirely go away.) It can even start to feel like part of the routine. It is our job, after all!
But even those of us out here on the high wire need to keep growing: as artists, as people, as professionals. So what can we do? We’re already scaring ourselves daily, auditioning, entering competitions, putting our performances up for scrutiny by critics, audiences…other singers (yikes!)
I have been at this for a number of years (ahem) and had settled into a certain level of comfort: singing rep I’m confident of (and seemed to get asked to do fairly consistently.) Then, for myriad reasons, I have started to step outside that ‘zone’ (sometimes intentionally, sometimes not.) New music is not particularly unusual for me, but a contemporary piece that requires me to perform as a cabaret artist? That was different.* Working with a composer? Fine. But a JAZZ composer? Gulp.** Moving into heavier rep? Well, fairly normal progression for a singer, but I never, NEVER thought I would be singing Wagner.***
Bye bye comfort zone, nice knowing you.
*One Art: an opera/cabaret, most recently performed at Tête à Tête Festival 2019.
‘Fantastic show, perfect marriage of form and content, and…a pitch-perfect lightness of touch that was devastatingly poignant.’
**Wonder Woman, May 2019.
‘…a soprano with an open, expressive face, and an off centre stage presence…she was never less than engaging. A tremendous singer…the audience were held, almost not daring to breathe. The contrast of a trained soprano and a jazz(y) backing is something I’ve seldom encountered, and it’s sensationally successful, certainly on this occasion.’
***I will be singing Irene in Rienzi at St Johns Smith Square, July 2020, and covering Brünnhilde for Longborough Festival Opera’s Ring Cycle 2020-2022.