As a singing teacher, I like to think that I am shaping the singers of the future and giving them the skills to pursue a career in performance. We cover all aspects of the voice as well as languages, musicianship and acting skills. Most of the time they learn just for pleasure, to gain confidence or have simply been forced into it by their parents!
But just recently I heard these words…
‘When people ask me what I want to do, I tell them I want to be a singer and that you are my inspiration.’
I was floored.
Very rarely do you get a case of somebody actually intending on making singing their choice of career. When this situation arises, I panic. Not because I doubt the persons singing ability but because I feel a sense of dread and doom for them. My thoughts go immediately to all the negative aspects of having a career in performance (which includes actors, instrumentalists, artists and anybody else who relies on subjective decision-making). Heart break, frustration, apprehension, depression, disappointment, jealousy, nerves – the list is endless. Of course everybody has a different experience but we have surely all felt a hand full of these emotions. Your career is not in your hands but in the hands of others who can pick you up or drop you on a whim.
Now I’m not just having a moan, because even the most successful singers will feel these emotions on a daily basis. But it’s how you cope with these elements that really matter. Some people are driven by competition, nerves or even rejection. However, it takes a very strong person to be able to turn all the negatives into positives. I cannot begin to tell you the number of singers I’ve spoken to who feel disillusioned and let down by their career choice and have retrained in something else either for financial reasons or lack of determination. There are also people who have had very fulfilling careers involving travel, great artistry, job satisfaction etc. The spectrum of experiences are vast but they all involve hard work, perseverance and soul-searching.
In my own experience, my very first singing teaching tried her best to put me off my ambitions. She described music colleges as ‘hot houses’ and said I would earn virtually no money and I would be better off doing law.Thank goodness I didn’t take her advice, sound as it was. She was right about it all but underestimated my inner strength. Yes it’s hard, frustrating and even self-esteem crushing but it’s also exhilarating, daring and thrilling in equal measure.
We rarely get a chance to follow our dreams in life and if you feel compelled to do something then why should you deny yourself. If someone finds themselves ignited with a particular passion for whatever it may be, why snuff out that desire by opting for security, reliability and the mundane. I’m certainly glad I didn’t. So be prepared for the ride in every way possible and do what you have to do. You can be informed and guided but ultimately passion should prevail.