Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Audition Season is Here!

I received some exciting news the other day when I opened my e-mail.  I have been granted my first audition for a Young Artist Program (YAP) as a tenor.  This is wonderful news for me, especially since the first two responses I got from other programs were declines.  I read an interview of Rockwell Blake a few years back in which he stated:

"There’s no cushion.  You start out with nothing, you have nothing, and there’s no such thing as an investment in property or something like a dentist would have to go through.  You move to New York, take an apartment and go to everything you can go to, and shell out a lot of money to pianists and coaches, which is necessary.  One needs to study, regardless, and you have to shell out money for the auditions, and if you are serious about making a career, you go to every audition there is.  That means maybe three or four times a week you’re shelling out twenty-five bucks for a pianist just to play three arias for you.  So it gets expensive, especially when you have no income."

I have made this into my personal mantra as I begin my real walk into this career.  For instance, at this point in the year, I am applying to about 20 different programs.  Ultimately more will come up as well as I continue through the season.  If you think about it, it is a numbers game like many things in life are.  When I first auditioned as a baritone nearly four years ago I only applied to about five programs and, while I managed to be granted auditions at all of those programs, I got accepted into none of them.  As an example of some of the odds a young singer faces starting out think about this:

A well-known program may receive 1500 applications from aspiring singers.  Out of those 1500, the company will hear approximately 700 auditions.  Then, from those 700, the company will pick about 25 singers for their program.

These odds seem nearly insurmountable, until you realize that there are hundreds of programs in this country, some of which are smaller programs and therefore receive fewer applications and hear fewer people for the same number of spots.  So, you see, eventually you will find the program that can accommodate you.  I am confident that I will find a placement for the summer during this season and begin my career.

My language quest has been somewhat trying as of late.  I have lacked time and motivation due to everything going on in my life, as I described above.  I am still working however and making progress.  I found a new app for my iPhone which is called "Audiobooks."  This is literally the entire database of LibriVox made available for iPhone.  Any language learners who do not know of LibriVox should check it out immediately, as well as Project Gutenberg.  These are invaluable resources for language learners as they provide you, between the two of them, with tons of materials for Listening-Reading.

I hope to get to another meetup or two before the year is out to see where I am at with my German.  This will be difficult though due to my potentially busy audition schedule.

On a side note, I noticed an interesting tidbit today when looking at my viewership.  I had a considerable spike in my readers on my birthday.  I can't imagine this is coincidence, but I find it rather amusing.  It's like a birthday gift from my readers.  I have also noticed a nice steady climb in readership over the years which is encouraging.  Ultimately my blog is gaining in popularity and I hope that it is helpful or informational to some of those who read it.  If there are ever any questions that any of you want me to try and answer, just leave a comment and I will answer it in my upcoming post.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

After the wedding...

The past few weeks have been a bit of a whirlwind.  On the eighth of October I got married and thusly have not had much time to devote to anything else.  I just got back into practicing both vocally and linguistically this week.  On the vocal side of things I did make a couple of recordings prior to the wedding and posted them to youtube for the sake of my upcoming auditions for various YAPs (young artist programs).

I never did get around to putting subtitles on the second clip.  Hopefully I will do that soon.  In coming back to practicing after about two weeks I am encountering some strange veil over my voice whilst singing.  I am not sure if this is sign of an oncoming illness, or just some minor entropy from not singing in a while.  Interestingly, I did not lose any of my range, the quality is just different and my endurance seems to have backtracked a bit.

Linguistically I have had a pleasant experience coming back after two weeks.  I have found that a number of things have solidified themselves and I am working around the language more easily than I did prior to the wedding.  At this point, if I work every day I can finish Assimil on January 2, 2013.  I don't know if I will work the two extra days, or stick to my plan of moving on to Spanish on January 1.  I am quite excited with how my German is progressing, even if I am not at the level I was hoping to be by this point of the year.

Monday, October 1, 2012

I'm getting married in a week! Also, my first tenor audition!

I'm getting married in a week.  Therefore I have done very little with German over the past couple of weeks.  I still continue to speak when I get together with Ernest, however I have not studied anything actively over the last two weeks.  I even let my LingQ account lapse until after the wedding so I can save as much money as possible.  I plan to get back on track after the wedding with German and make a big final push over the last couple of months.

About this time of year I let the cat out of the bag regarding the language I am going to next pursue.  I am running into a similar problem that I ran into toward the end of last year with French.  I plan to move on to my next language, but I feel drawn to sticking with German and really solidifying everything and continue working on German until I reach fluency.  On the other hand, I like moving on to something new so that I don't get bored.  It appears that my German will be at a solid B1 level by the end of the year, maybe B2 if I work effectively.  Truthfully that's sufficient for what I need currently, and is a high enough level where I can move on and not really risk losing what I have done.  That being said, my next planned language of study for next year is:  Spanish!

I studied Spanish in high school for three years and continued to speak Spanish for a while in college with some friends.  However, I have not actively spoken or studied Spanish in about eight years.  Also, since I have already worked in French and Italian I have a solid base in the language.  Therefore I am not a beginner, however I am still going to start from the beginning of my process and see what I can do.  It has been predicted by Ernest and other polyglots I know that Spanish will quickly become my best language because of the background I already have, and because of the easy exposure to Spanish in American culture.  I tend to agree and would love to be able to make it to fluency in the next year, beginning in January.  My goal at the beginning is always to attain fluency in a year, then I modify as the year progresses.  Next month I will give my review of my German year and assess how I have progressed.

I sang my first audition as a tenor on Saturday and it was a bit of a train wreck.  Just about everything that could have gone wrong during my audition did.  It started with flipping verses for about eight measures and proceeded to forgetting words, blanking out completely, and shanking high notes.  Fortunately this was a small local company which shouldn't have any effect on me elsewhere.  On the plus side, I did go into the audition very comfortable and confident, which I did not anticipate.  I was using this audition as a sort of practice experience to prepare myself for the more important auditions coming up in the next couple of months.  I need to go back and take a look at my repertoire to make sure I have it all memorized properly and securely so that my nerves don't steal my words again.  The audition experience provided me with the setup for a night of beating myself up, however sleeping does wonders for the soul and the mind and I have been much better since waking.  I have to take a week off from serious practice time to prepare and experience my wedding, and then I will be back in the swing of preparation again when I return next week.