Where do I sing? What do I sing?
These questions come up regularly. They aren't black and white. The answers aren't always easy, and they are often fluid.
There are so many variables and being in the right place at the right time; being ready; subjective responses and who is hiring and on and on.
What are you in charge of?
More than you think!
You are responsible for your own craft, and your development of said craft.
You are responsible to learn about the business, if you are indeed pursuing a career. Every angle of the business is a different business. It's up to you to figure that out and find out what the parameters are, and how you negotiate the landscape (or the land mines as the case may be!)
You are always going to get tons of opinions. Some people will love what you do; some will be lukewarm. It's life. Opinion is only a sampling and can't be given too much weight in the overall aspect of things. Let it inform your bullshit detector: as in, are you clear in your own pursuit? Can you look at the opinion objectively to inform where you are, what you are trying to do, with information that is helpful as opposed to delusional or destructive?
Where should you be?
Obviously I can't answer these questions for you. Nobody can. Nobody can guarantee you are going to have a career. Nobody can dismiss you and tell you that you WON'T have a career.
What does having a career mean to you? It doesn't mean the same thing to everybody.
What do you want? Why?
What fulfills you? What gives you joy? What makes you happy?
These answers may or may not put you on a career track.
Who is telling you "you should", or "you shouldn't"?
Not everybody has a world class voice. Not everybody is a prima donna or leading lady. It's okay. Theatre is created for MANY MANY different voices and characters. If everybody is a leading lady, then nobody is!
Theatre is available at every level. And, guess what? It can be absolutely fulfilling at every level.
You can find committed, talented, professional and fantastic theatre from community theatre to fringe theatre to pop up theatre, to small regional houses, to larger regional theatre to A houses and Broadway.
You can also find absolute shit in all those places too.
There are no absolutes. If you look hard enough, you'll find the gems everywhere there is theatre!
Sometimes you'll hear an exceptional voice or see a brilliant actor in a place you wouldn't expect. Sometimes they are there because they simply want to be; sometimes they are there because the business has just found them there, or they have found a place there.
Whether you are a leading lady, a leading man, a side-kick, a secondary or tertiary character, a "character" character, right through to a strong chorus member: YOU MATTER.
Figuring out where you fit will allow you to thrive in that environment - from genre, to level, to character type & fach and more.
If you realize that no, you aren't a leading man but you make a great character actor - then figure out what you have to have and have to do to create the best character actor you possibly can! What does that demand of you in craft and knowledge? Where are you best seen and how you do you get infant of those people?
You go where your talent takes you. If you keep hitting walls, perhaps it's time to simply sit down and have an honest discussion with yourself to review your goals and your dreams. Adjusting the focus of those goals and dreams doesn't mean you give up! It means you adjust the realization of where you actually are, and what you can do to truly inhabit that reality.
Dream big, big for YOU. Then, breathe in the present. Where are you? Why are you there? What brings you there? How do you inhabit that? Surround yourself with a FEW trusted professionals (professionals - not friends, not family) that will give you a firm anchor and will help you understand where you are now, what you have to offer, how you could be seen, and where. Nobody knows where that leads. Only you, taking the reins, committing to your passion and your craft, learning how things are structured and what the business does, can discover that.
If you find out that you are over the moon and happy creating theatre in small spaces, and that you play the "second banana" and can NAIL it and it gives you a sense of accomplishment - then that is a WIN!
It isn't always all or nothing. It is finding out WHO you are, WHAT you have, and WHERE it can be realized. It is claiming the truth of what you DO, not just what you say you want to do.
If you lead with the truth and authenticity of what you are truly about and what you honestly can do, then you have a clearer understanding of where you could be, as you pursue where you can play!
Take a few seconds with that one. It's gotta stay present, and the honesty of that within you will morph as you and your craft continue to evolve!
Keep asking questions.
Keep your peripheral vision open.
Keep seeing the spectrum of the rainbow, not right or wrong; not black and white.
Know the difference between making music, and making a living making music.
Breathe your passion.
Know the business you are in.
Trust few, and nod at the rest.
Look at a closed door or a "no" or a "don't" as an opportunity to find another door that opens, a "yes" or a "do it!"
There is no failure if you pursue.
There is no failure if there is passion.
There is no failure if you are content.
There is no failure in falling down, tripping or trying again!
What you DO with it gives you momentum or stops you. How you respond will give you more answers than you realize!
Be where you are. Inhabit it. Stretch into it. Enjoy every second so it gives you opportunity to grow!
Don't make excuses. Just do the work. Hone the craft. Gather knowledge and be as informed as you can be.
Where you sing and how you sing and when you sing and what you sing, will then continue to reveal what you want to be bothered with, and what you can release without angst.
Your success is knowledge. Be bold to find it, and live it!
Susan Eichhorn Young covers all things voice—strong and sophisticated singing and speaking.
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