Thursday, November 29, 2012

A New Phase

I have entered a new phase of my vocal journey this month.  I was lucky enough to be able to have two lessons this month as compared to my usual one every other month.  During the course of these two lessons, JRL and I worked on a new aspect of singing technique.  For the past three years, we have focused mostly on developing the chest voice component of my voice.  This was lacking from my singing previously and took some time to develop.  Now, we are working on finding the "thin edge" of the voice.  This is proving to be very challenging for me, though I am finding success and a certain ease in my singing that was not as present before. 

In the past five years or so, I had noticed that I was losing my vocal agility and I could not figure out why.  I found this very frustrating, because I used to pride myself on the ease with which I could handle coloratura passages.  After a couple of weeks of working to find the "thin edge," I sang through "Ev'ry Valley" from Handel's Messiah today with relative ease and at a passable tempo.  The runs felt both clean and under control, not to mention the top notes were easier than they have ever been.  My challenge now lies in this weekend. 

I have two auditions this weekend and these are some of my last auditions of this season.  At this point I have not been terribly pleased with my performances in audition situations this year.  I have been becoming more and more comfortable with each audition and I know that this is a process.  Singing tenor is still new to me, especially in front of people, and the more that I do it the easier it becomes.  I am hoping that some fruit will come from these auditions this weekend. 

My primary goal is to sing well and seek the "thin edge" throughout my two auditions.  My secondary goal is to be offered a position through these auditions.  I am at a difficult point currently in that I am nearing an age where I need to either find work singing, or pursue a secondary plan that is more sustainable than my current day job.  This will inevitably lead to me pursuing a graduate degree if I have to go down this path.  Following a path towards a graduate degree does not necessarily hurt my chances of singing professionally, in fact, it would probably help me a great deal.  The issue I have is that I would rather just get out there and sing rather than go through another two years of academic work.  Prayers are greatly appreciated that my auditions this weekend and throughout this audition season lead to an offer to sing somewhere this summer and begin my career.

German is still coming along at a consistent pace.  I have fallen into a pretty good groove as of late, though I am a little slow on my goal of 4,700 known words by the end of the year.  As we come into December I will need to increase my workload so to reach this level.  4,700 may seem like a random number to want to achieve, however there is a method to this number.  There is a study out of Australia (I believe) that found that in English the amount of words known divided by 1.6 equated to the number of word families known, which is a better measure of fluency than simply words known.  It is generally accepted that one can be quite proficient in a language once they know 3,000 words.  The Australian study points out that this is really 3,000 word families, not words.  Therefore, per the equation, I need to know 4,700 words to know 3,000 word families in English.  While I do not know the specific equation for other languages, I have found this same equation works pretty well for other languages.  If I can reach this number by year's end I will be at a solid intermediate level in the language and be able to have relatively comfortable conversations on a wide variety of topics.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Challenges and Excitements

It begins this week.  On Friday, I have my first YAP audition of the year.  This audition is for Ohio Light Opera.  I am both anxious and excited about this audition.  Anxious because of my last audition experience and because I have to have a monologue prepared, which is a new thing for me.  Excited because I feel like I have a lot to offer and that this year will be the year my career starts.  It has been a challenging last couple of weeks and I have realized some things that I didn't think were going to be such a problem when I started the audition process this year.

I have been denied auditions to a number of programs.  To date I have been denied auditions for 56% of the applications I have submitted, with 31% of programs having not yet responded one way or the other.  While I cannot say for certain what the reason is behind this, I believe it is due to a lack of experience.  When I was younger I was told that there were two ways to start a career in this field:

1.)  Go to grad school and make connections through the school's teachers.
2.)  Go straight into YAP's out of undergrad and make your own connections.

In that I was tired of schooling after undergrad I choose to take route 2.  The problem though, is that I also went through a technical change which led to a reclassification of my voice and three years without any stage credits.  So now, I am going to have to travel a very narrow path this year it seems, which may end up including a pay-to-sing opportunity, rather than a true YAP.  Ultimately I have faith in my process and in divine providence that I will be successful in attaining my goals.

My German is still progressing slowly but surely.  I have adopted a more intensive reading approach based on Dr. Arguelles' method of focusing on texts in which the percentage of unknown words is kept low so that you can focus on them and really ingrain them in your brain faster.  There is obvious upside and downside to this.  The upside was already mentioned; it is easier to get words to stick in your memory because you only need to focus on maybe five words instead of 20 or 30.  The downside is that it slows down the process considerably.  At this point my goal is to add approximately 10 new words to my known words total.  This may seem trivial but over the course of a month, that ends up being about 2,000 words if I am consistent with my five day work plan.  This will put me right about the same amount of known words as I have in French, which gives me a pretty good handle on the language.  I was hoping to be able to do more with German than I did with French since I had an extra four months, but with my wedding and auditions this year it just wasn't possible to spread myself out anymore.