THREE WAYS TO JUMP START YOUR CAREER
#1 Make your repertoire more versatile
Many singers (especially those fresh out of grad school) are hung up on the five-aria package. In reality, you are likely to perform many kinds of music as part of your life as a professional singer. Rethink what a "package" means. How about five to seven arias, two to three contrasting oratorio pieces, two or three art songs and two or three musical theatre pieces? I call this collection “The Book”, and its purpose is to prepare you for any type of opportunity that may come along. Within this collection, ensure you have a variety of languages, styles, tempi, time periods and characters. All pieces should be well-prepared; coached, polished, and dramatically fleshed-out. Whether it be an opera or operetta audition, a church solo, a wedding gig, a house party, an MT audition or a recording session, you will be ready to go and won’t have to pull out dusty old repertoire or scramble to learn something new.
#2 Make quality recordings of your varied repertoire
In the classical vocal field in 2019, often your recording is your first audition; your “round one”. Too many singers throw together recordings last minute and with little attention to detail. I recommend selecting five to seven pieces from “The Book” to record (depending on your needs, probably three arias, one oratorio, one art song and one MT piece). Plan far in advance, and schedule two separate sessions if time and finances allow. Hire an excellent accompanist and rehearse with them in advance. Try to avoid small studios and classrooms. Use the space of a larger recital hall or church space if possible, and ensure you are using quality equipment. Probably you will want video recordings for everything other than oratorio (which could be audio only). Do a test run before you start recording so that everything is as it should be. Take good care of your body and voice in advance of the sessions. Bottom line: take recordings seriously.
#3 Update your website and promote it
Once you have lots of well-prepared repertoire and quality recordings, you will feel empowered to promote yourself more assertively. If you don’t already have a website, there is no better time than the present. Seriously, you can update your website in an afternoon. Fortunately, setting up a website is easier than ever with template-based services such as Squarespace and Weebly. It is no longer necessary to pay a webmaster to create and update your site for you. Choose your best recordings to feature on your website and make it clear from the homepage where folks can access them. Keep the website clean, organized and simple. You don’t need hundreds of production photos (though you can certainly create a gallery if you like); a few high quality photos of you will do the trick. If you can’t afford headshots, ask a friend to take some nice shots with a new iPhone in portrait mode! In addition to recordings and photos, the essentials are a calendar tab, a contact tab, and access to your resume/bio. So get to it, and once it is done….share, share, share! Point people to your site using social media, emails, business cards, and word of mouth. Off you go!