Inspiration and Confidence Building

‘An audition is not a test: it is an exchange of information. Don’t reveal your faults!’
– Joan Dornemann, assistant conductor at the Metropolitan Opera

Perhaps not what you want to hear immediately after singing a difficult audition or failing in the first round of a competition, but it is very good advice. So much of the time we are dogged by the idea that we have to ‘blow everyone away’ when we get up to sing for a job or prize…that we MUST do the most difficult/highest/lowest/fastest/loudest aria ever written for human voice, or they just won’t NOTICE us. Yet those who are on the other side of the table tell us again and again: better to do something simple but do it very well. Many teachers, coaches and advisers tried to tell me this during my training, but Joan Dornemann’s phrasing really drove it home: it’s not a test. Translation: you are not a student (although it applies to students too!), you are a professional. You are exchanging information: they are not ‘up there’ with power over you, judging you – we are all involved in a business transaction. Do we want you in our production? Do I want to work for this company? Is it a good fit? Don’t reveal your faults: why should I walk into a room and say ‘someday I might be able to sing this run competently and really nail the high note, but in the meantime, let me demonstrate some very out-of-tune warbling.’ Ouch. How about: ‘Here is what I really excel at RIGHT NOW. Oh, and here it is in the context of some gorgeous music. Thanks. Nice to have met you.’

More quotes relating to auditioning and building confidence:

‘Ask yourself “WHAT am I doing?” instead of “HOW am I doing?”‘
– Tim Caldwell, voice teacher, performer, author

‘We all have that small voice that tells us we’re rubbish, and we need to learn to silence it.’
– Fyfe Dangerfield, songwriter

‘You cannot overprepare. Enjoy being as searching and thorough as possible before you begin, so you can be as free as possible once you’ve started.’
– Ian Rickson, director

‘As soon as you concern yourself with the “good” and “bad” of your fellows, you create an opening in your heart for maliciousness to enter. Testing, competing with, and criticising others weaken and defeat you.’
– The Art of Peace, Morihei Ueshiba

P.s. If you are reading this and kicking yourself for having done ‘exam’ style auditions in the past, please stop the self-flagellation. Just get on with preparing for future auditions with a new attitude. Toi toi toi!