A Job for a Singer

on . Posted in Singing

Finding a day job that supports you financially with the flexibility you require for a singing career is tough. Add the basic need of quality of life (e.g. eating decent food, being able to stay out of debt, and havi reasonable health care options) and it seems almost impossible. But it's not. And you might even find a job that's fun and leaves you with enough energy in the evening to practice and enjoy your free time.

1. Calculate: Find out how much you will be paid, figure out what it will cost you to work there (gas, parking, oil changes, lunch, clothing, etc.) and see if you really can afford to have that job. (See What Your Teacher Never Told Youfor more on being an entrepreneur and making it work.)

2. Location, Location, Location: Keep the job as close to your home as possible. Time commuting/sitting in traffic is wasted time.

3. Specificity: Artists tend to have crazy schedules and any kind of routine can sometimes get lost--because we simply don't have it (sometimes). Try to land a decent job with specific hours and specific duties. Let the job keep you grounded in routine and it will help shape the rest of your week. If you know you have rehearsal every Tuesday and you teach every Thursday night, knowing that your Monday-Wednesday-Friday schedule is 8-5 and done, you're more likely to be able to balance out stressful times and stay on top of your practicing and marketing.

Specific duties can also help--musicians tend to juggle more balls than most and a job with enough routine activities to keep you grounded and stable at work (but not too much to be deathly boring) can help focus you.

4. Trial & Error: If you start a job and discover it's draining or you have toxic colleagues or the commute is indeed too long or the hours are constantly changing or it just doesn't suit you or whatever--dump it. You are worthy a day job that supports you and brings you a few steps forward, but not one that drains you or brings toxicity or chaos into your life. (Been there, done that, didn't even get a t-shirt.)

5. Spin It: You've gotta do what you've gotta do, so have fun and treat it as your "cover." Whenever anybody at one of my other jobs hears my music and asks, "What are you doing here?" I respond, "This is my cover."  *wink*

"Sing something for me--RIGHT NOW!"

on . Posted in Singing

People really do say this to singers. It's SO ODD! It's like saying "You're an accountant? Do my taxes. NOW!" Or saying to a landscape architect, "Landscape my property. NOW!" Who likes to be put on the spot like that?

Who puts people on the spot like that, anyway?

Here are a few answers I've heard, ranging from downright sassy to politely diplomatic. Because I honestly don't know what the most appropriate response is, but maybe different demands can be answered with different responses.

The Sassy Response

One of the best responses to this was from my friend Susannah in Grad school at the Manhattan School of Music. She was working in an office and many people demanded she sings something right there--on the spot. She responded smiling with, "I charge by the note." They stopped demanding.

Another friend from college, Joe, responds with some variation of "I'm sorry, the monkey only dances if you put money in the cup." (Ouch!)

The Commercial Response

"If you would like to hear me sing, just put my name in at iTunes and you can download any of 3 songs I have there." Unfortunately, that didn't stop the pushy people from pleading, so I gave them a free download card. (What happened next is a WHOLE other blog article...) They finally left me alone because someone else distracted them. By playing the song previews on iTunes. Go figure.

Give 'em What They Want

Amazingly, a couple of my friends actually break into song, like "O sole mio" or whatever they have in their head at that moment. Amazing.

The Diplomatic Response

David, a friend of mine whose skill ranges from enchanting 60s folk medley to lovely early English song, will frequently respond with "I'm not warmed up and I don't want to damage my voice." Very fact-based, very diplomatic. Like Marta, who simply says, "Sorry, I'm off-duty." (That's my favorite so far.)

The Audience-Building Response

From fellow mezzo MajaLisa:  "I can't sing for you now, but you are welcome to come hear me at my upcoming performance of ________. If you want to give me your email address, I can add you to my newsletter." NICE, MajaLisa, very nice! We can learn from this woman!

A Parent's Response

Leave it to a parent-singer-conductor to give the most entertaing response:  "When people demand that I sing for them, I break into a lively rendition of "The Wheels on the Bus (Go 'Round and 'Round)" and insist they do the actions with me."


How Divorce Made Me Stronger (and Smarter: 6 Lessons Gleaned)

on . Posted in News

(...and it made me a better singer, too!)

The blog DivorcedBefore30 published a guest blog post of mine recently; and as a divorced singer, I have to say that most of these lessons are as personal as they are professional.


I secretly left my abusive ex-husband and fled a foreign country that had been my home for five years. I knew I couldn’t stay and that was the only way I knew I had to leave. I was alone, penniless, terrified,
and getting a divorce at 29. I had hit rock bottom and it was only up from there…but not the way that I thought was up. It was life’s way up.

#1: It’s up to you to take care of yourself. Tina Fey said it best in Bossypants: Tina Fey's Bossypants People will try to fool you. My naiveté had increased during the brainwashing from my ex and I actually believed that
handsome colleague was genuinely interested in me. He wasn’t. I thought the lady who hired me was going to follow through on her big plans. She didn’t. I began tuning into reality, which was what people
were doing, not what they were saying.

#2 Speak up! If you’re going to regret not saying something, you better well learn how to....

READ THE REST at DivorcedBefore30.com

Argentina Concert Video Compilation - Bel Canto Chorus Tour

on . Posted in Travel


A beautiful video compilation of two concerts from the Bel Canto Chorus South America tour last summer! The sold-out, standing-room-only concert in the Basilica de Guadalupe in Mercedes and the concert in the Facultad de Derecho in Buenos Aires.

Here you can see how utterly packed both venues were and how receptive the audiences were. What a gift it was to be there and to sing for everyone--and what a big, beautiful surprise to find this video.


Video Report - Bel Canto Concert from Colonia, Uruguay

on . Posted in Travel

While on tour with the Bel Canto Chorus last summer, we stopped twice in Colonia, Uruguay, and most of us fell in love with it. Old cars had been made into art on the streets, small artisans showed us their art and their wares, and we were welcomed with open arms. They even danced us through the streets to the restaurant after our concert there!

Ana Belen Tourin was at the concert in the Teatro Bastion del Carmen and recently shared this video posted to YouTube - the report itself is in Spanish, with plenty of beautiful singing in the video!

Thank you, Colonia, you are magnificent!