A young and talented and deep-thinking artist that I have recently had many conversations with, Arianna Armon has given me further ideas for upcoming blog entries and this one is no exception!
Along the same theme of dealing with people who are not initiated in our business, nor our lifestyle and who often ask questions out of pure ignorance, not necessarily rudeness, and these are some of them.
"Why aren't you singing on Broadway?" "Why aren't you singing at the Met?"
Those are two HUGE questions, which draw more energy than we often realize.
Before we begin our own journey, often as youngsters when we are still starry-eyed and dreamy, we look at Broadway or the Met as the iconic "place" to aim for! If we make it to "that place" and sing and perform there, then we know we have "made it"! I still see it when young singers come to me for a voice consultation to work with me - singers who have just arrived in NYC or are striving to move here. When I ask them what sorts of goals they are aiming for - the green ones ALWAYS say "I wanna be on Broadway" or "I want to sing at the Met one day".
Those of you reading who have been around the block a time or two are giggling to yourselves. Not because it's funny, but because we have ALL been green, we've all thought it or said it out loud. Then the REALITY of being an artist and building a journey begins, and we begin to see for ourselves!
What the green performers and the general public don't know - yet - is that even though Broadway and the Met SHOULD represent the highest of standards in their respective businesses, they often do not.
"You are so good - why aren't you on Broadway?" is often a question. Sadly, "good" has very little, if nothing to do with it. If all we had to do was be good at what we did, or even EXCEPTIONAL and we'd get a Broadway role or a contract at the Met, THAT would be easy!!! Sadly, exceptional or even competent has very little to do with the "business" on Broadway, or the "business" at the Met.
Now, don't misunderstand me - there are some marvellous singers and performers in both these places, but it doesn't preclude that ALL are and that there are not marvellous singers and performers ELSEWHERE as well. And that just because a singer is NOT on Broadway or at the Met that they aren't good enough to be there.
What we learn very quickly if we choose this journey, is that there are no absolutes. Broadway is NOT an absolute. The Met is not an absolute. They are flawed systems, like every other one, and they do not hold up the highest standards that we as a society have deemed they do.
We do not have to get to Broadway or to the Met to feel we have achieved artistic success! In fact, artistic success can often be found elsewhere! Some singers never get a chance, and some decide they are content to be elsewhere. It is not about "settling" it's about BEING WHERE YOU ARE and making your journey YOURS. The arrival is not what is important, it is the work and the journey.
We do not understand that until we begin the journey. The people that ask these questions don't understand the questions they ask because they have nothing in their lives that relate to it. As a journeying artist, it becomes less important WHERE you are working, but JUST that you are! Sometimes you work for the money, cause we all have bills to pay! Sometimes to work for the opportunity to do a role you really want to inhabit; sometimes to work WITH a certain director/conductor/choreographer/another actor; The reasons are always changing! Only YOU know what are the right decisions for YOU.
As I get older (!) I realize more and more that I owe NO ONE an explanation for my journey. My journey is uniquely mine. My decisions uniquely influenced my journey. I made and am making it work.
YOU do not owe explanation, excuse, or treatise to someone who asks you an unintentionally loaded question like "Why aren't you singing on Broadway?" or "Why aren't you at the Met?" They wouldn't necessarily understand your answer anyway.
Sometimes simple is the best: "Maybe someday I will."
Smile - and work on YOU and let your journey unfold.
Susan Eichhorn Young
Susan Eichhorn Young covers all things voice—strong and sophisticated singing and speaking.
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