The New Forum for Classical Singers

 


  << Previous Topic | Next Topic >>Return to index  

Who do you perform for?

February 9 2010 at 2:25 PM

redmezzo  (Login redmezzo)
NFCS Member

 
I couldn't decide which forum to post this on, and decided on this one. I think it addresses a corner of Performance Wellness that warrants some thought. It also seem apropos some other current threads of discussion.

Without going too far into personal anecdote, I've been noticing the differences before school/in undergrad/in grad school/out of school, in terms of the praise/criticism that seems to validate my work.

Example: During school, it is understandable that one becomes preoccupied with what your evaluation panel/teacher thinks about a graded performance. After school, you don't get that exact kind of feedback.

I would like to think that I place very high value on the feedback from audience members. Or did I only do that when I didn't like what grade my panelists gave?

Has anyone else felt a bit lost, or directionless? Yes, there is also family, critics, the conductor, the director, castmates, maybe a coach/teacher, but it does not feel the same. At times, it feels a bit empty. I was commenting to my SO what a head-case my voice teachers have 'turned me into'.

More importantly, as a teacher or director, how do I try to ensure that my own students aren't looking for only my praise?

 
 Respond to this message   
AuthorReply
schnoodc
(Login schnoodc)
NFCS Member

Not a head case (long response)

February 9 2010, 3:01 PM 

You are looking for honest feedback, which is hard to find. It really is. However, it will never "validate" or "invalidate" your work, even when you find it. You have to figure out why you are singing, and not rely upon others to give you enough praise or criticism to make you feel like its worth the trouble.

Did you teacher "turn you into" this, or did you always sing to get praise/criticism/attention from people? This is not only a problem for singers - it is tough going from the academic environment to the real world. It's always easier to write essays on, say, education policy in a class where a teacher can praise your originality and enthusiasm. It is quite another thing to get an entry-level job in an educational advocacy organization, where you have to start out doing menial tasks that don't feel worthwhile. The real world sucks this way.

The cold, hard truth that hits after graduation is - does anyone care if I kill myself trying to do this well? Would anyone noticed if I just didn't do it any more? The answer is usually....not really. People move on to new projects and new proteges. There's always a young hotshot out there to take the attention away from what you are trying to do.

But I bet you didn't always sing to get praise/criticism/attention from your audience. Spend some time remembering that and be kind to yourself during this transition. If you can harness that enthusiasm without depending on others for it, than you will continue singing. If not, you probably will give it up after a while and do something that you do have that kind of enthusiasm for. Or chuck it all and become a forest ranger (like I think about doing at least 2ce a year!).

As a teacher or director, you cannot control how others look at you or depend on you. Takes a long time to really believe it, but it's true. Be the kindest, most helpful, most truthful authority figure you can be and understand that you cannot keep others from getting disappointed or making decisions that you don't agree with. Even if you could explain to them what you have learned, they won't believe you. They never do.

Give it some time. Focus on yourself. Don't judge yourself so harshly. Just sing without expectation. The rest will become clearer with time.


 
 Respond to this message   

The Singing Mom
(Login The_Singing_Mom)
NFCS Member

I think all singers can be "head cases"

February 10 2010, 7:19 AM 

I don't think your teachers have turned you into one, I think it just happens. I think we all have our insecurities. I am so insecure that I have trouble believing anyone who tells me that they enjoyed a performance.

I did a fund raising concert with some friends this summer. The next time I saw the music director of that church she commented on how much she enjoyed my performance, she really liked the songs I picked, great for my voice, etc.....I was gracious in accepting her praise (at least I hope I was) but I didn't believe her. My voice teacher told me "music director" told me that your performance went well at my next lesson. It seems my performance was "validated" by audience members, but I have problems believing any praise that comes my way. It's a different problem, but still a problem.

You are not alone.....I am sure it doesn't help all that much, but I hope you know that there are others out there with "issues".

 
 Respond to this message   

JenSop
(Login JenSop)
NFCS Member

I hear ya

February 10 2010, 10:02 AM 

I have the same issues. I even think I wrote a thread about it a few years back. For some reason, I never believe it when people compliment me. When it's audience members, I just chalk it up to the fact that they probably don't have as trained of an ear. And when it's colleagues, I just assume they're "being nice." I'm sort of getting better with this as I get older, but I obviously still have a lot of insecurity issues.

And I also feel that the applause is addicting. Even in my warped brain (thinking the audience doesn't know better) I still really hunger for that applause. I kind of trace it back to when I was in school and was expected to get straight A's because I was academically gifted. That "A" validated me and my abilities. Now in adult life, the applause validates my abilities. And even though I don't always believe the compliments, I would be devastated to not get them.


 
 Respond to this message   

HT
(Login Houndentenor)
NFCS "Time Out" Corner

Oh, c'mon

February 10 2010, 8:46 AM 


If we didn't enjoy the applause and the attention we'd just sing in the shower. This is true of everyone who performs.

That said, you can easily go overboard in pandering for applause or needing the constant attention. And yes, I think that's what drives a lot of singers (and actors) nuts. Because it's like a drug. There's never going to be enough.

So it's best to focus on what you have to say and communicate that to your audience. But when it's over I'd be lying if I didn't love a bravo and some applause.

Houndentenor

"You're a reality show without a camera crew."

 
 Respond to this message   
Lucie
(Login LucieInDisguise)
NFCS Member

Yeah

February 10 2010, 9:12 AM 

My day job would be so much better if they would just FREAKING APPLAUD!! Why don't they get that?

Lol!

 
 Respond to this message   
JEM is my name
(Login JEMismyname)
NFCS Member

disagree...

February 10 2010, 1:18 PM 

For me, it's simple. It's money lol. Otherwise, I DO just sing in the shower lol. I love to sing, but I do NOT sing in public for free (unless it's for a family or close friend function). Nor do I take lessons or coachings unless it is to brush up before a competiton or audition in which I might get some money lol.

JEM

 
 Respond to this message   

HT
(Login Houndentenor)
NFCS "Time Out" Corner

Oops

February 10 2010, 5:32 PM 


Well, yes. I would have added that but I was afraid I would sound crass. There's a famous cartoon among singers. It shows what singers are thinking about when they sing. The soprano imagines a standing ovation. The mezzo thinks about the baritone. The tenor imagines bags of money. The baritone sees the vowel placement chart. And the bass pictures himself fishing. LOL

Along the way some of us make some art as well. I do sometimes sing even if there's no money involved but it has to be something I really want to sing and people I really want to work with.

Houndentenor

"You're a reality show without a camera crew."

 
 Respond to this message   

Valeria Girardi
(Login sexymezzo)
NFCS Regular

Re: Who do you perform for?

February 10 2010, 1:05 PM 

We as performers sing to tell a story, and make that story believable. As an artist, this should be your main goal. Of course singing well, and having your technique at your fingertips make this possible.

Your "homework" is done in the studio with yourself, your coaches, and teachers. Getting praise is great there, but it is even better to not just have them say your wonderful, but tell you what needs to be done, to make it the best you possibly can for your instrument. You don't to this to please them, you do it over and over again to achieve your main objective, which should be to tell your story.

There will be people who give you great advise along the way,those who haven't a clue as to what they are talking about, those that sing your praise, those that love you, those that hate you. The next time you step into your "homework" room focus only on what you need to do to make yourself the best you can be. The next time you step onto the stage, tell your story with honesty and truth. If you do this you will not have to seek praise and validation. It will be at your disposal.

 
 Respond to this message   

Tytania
(Login Tytania)
NFCS Member

Performing is the wrong place to look for validation.

February 10 2010, 2:15 PM 

Singing is a fun activity. Voice lessons give you a chance to have "me time" and a way to express yourself.

Singing and performing are two different things.

Performing is a bitch. Performing is about creating something for the audience. It's not about making people love you because no matter how hard you try, someone out there is thinking that you're boring and unattractive and sucky.

No matter how great you are, performing exposes you to people who won't like you.

But the point isn't to be liked. The point is to make people feel something, or to help them forget their problems for a while, or to tell a story. Sometimes, it's part of your job to stand aloof while they gripe about your latest performance because that is a part of the audience experience too.

So, who do I perform for? Me. I'm the one who wants this. No one else.

As for my students, I tell them that we're here to work and enjoy singing. I praise them for the effort they put in, not for having a magic voice. The better they are when they begin, the harder they need to work to improve and I tell them that from the get go.

And I tell the performers that you cannot control the opinions of your audience or judges. You can only strive to meet your personal goals and to give the best performance you can in that moment. That's what you get out of this. The rest is just details.

-Tytania




****************************************************************************************************
Those who are too weak to follow their own dreams will always find a way to discourage others.
****************************************************************************************************

 
 Respond to this message   

King o'high Ds
(Login KingohighDs)
NFCS "Time Out" Corner

Yeah, but...

February 10 2010, 2:39 PM 

No matter how many people hate what you do, someone out there will love it. I feel I have something worth saying and I will connect with some. I DO have to do it for myself as well, but I also think about those in the audience. For someone it's the first time they will ever hear the work I'm singing and for someone, it's their last. I owe it to them to be my best. Of course, I have learned that if I love my performance, usually the audience response is better.

D-King




"All that is gold does not glitter, not all who wander are lost" - J.R.R. Tolkien

 
 Respond to this message   

Tytania
(Login Tytania)
NFCS Member

True, but that's not the same as seeking validation from it.

February 10 2010, 3:26 PM 

Validation is that thing where we feel like what we aren't worthy unless someone else is saying we are.

We go out there knowing that we are worthy and have something worth sharing and that someone will connect with it, even if it doesn't happen today.

That's not the same as going into singing thinking that it will somehow give you something that will be worth sharing.

And as crackaliciously awesome the audience connection feels, the more we're loved, the more pressure there is to be even better than our last performance.

Or, at the very least, to do something equally good but different.

But hey, I think you and I have always been on the same page about that.

-Tytania

****************************************************************************************************
Those who are too weak to follow their own dreams will always find a way to discourage others.
****************************************************************************************************

 
 Respond to this message   

King o'high Ds
(Login KingohighDs)
NFCS "Time Out" Corner

Yes, we agree...

February 11 2010, 1:17 PM 

My disagreement, or at least difference of perspective, was with focusing on those who won't like what we do. I used to have a friend who could always find a cloud on every silver lining. It's a matter of focus. I will never let the vocal minority ruin it for those who might actually like what I do.

D-King




"All that is gold does not glitter, not all who wander are lost" - J.R.R. Tolkien

 
 Respond to this message   

redmezzo
(Login redmezzo)
NFCS Member

Not personal validation

February 11 2010, 8:38 AM 

I don't seek for personal validation, rather, that of the performance. I have lots of friends and family who like me, I'm not trying to make friends in my audience.

ie.
as a child, it is parents
as a student, it is professors
as an adult professional, it is....?


Also, what magical teacher did you have that made lessons a fun place to express yourself? I have NEVER heard a singer describe lessons in that way, as "me time"...???

But I sing to perform. There's no way in hell I would have done all of this if I were not training to do it in public.


 
 Respond to this message   
schnoodc
(Login schnoodc)
NFCS Member

As an adult professional....it is YOU

February 11 2010, 10:13 AM 

This is what my first post was trying to say - nobody cares anymore whether you sing or not after leaving academia. There is nobody to sing for except yourself. If that isn't enough, nobody's going to provide you with that motivation. This is why so many singers quit.

The real world gives you very few "magical places to express yourself." It's not a teacher's job to get you to do it, it's yours. I have heard lots of singers say that lessons are "me time," especially when they are slogging through menial 9-5 day jobs. Some teachers help a student do this better than others, but their success or failure has much to do with the student. This is hard and it is one of the major challenges of adulthood, after trying to keep food in the fridge and a roof over your head.

Leaving school is tough. High schools are all about trying to get as many people to demonstrate basic skills as possible, without regard for individual abilities. College creates an artificial world where people are paid to care about whether students really feel like they are expressing themselves and finding their true potential. And then they get dumped out into a depressed job market. Its not fun.

No easy, tidy answer to this question. It's a process.




 
 Respond to this message   

PinoNoir
(Login PinoNoir)
NFCS Member

I never went to music school and have always been self-motivated

February 11 2010, 10:34 AM 

When it comes to singing. I never had anybody who made lessons magical or anything. Most of my teachers before I got to NYC were nice (not all were) but they didn't have a clue what they were doing. They were all aspiring professionals themselves. I never sang to please THEM. Even since arriving in NYC and getting teachers and coaches who actually could help me be professional, I never sang for "THEM." I always had an agenda, an itinerary for each lesson. What I wanted to cover--after all I was paying them and I wanted to get the most out of it.

Also I had absolutely NO validation from friends or family about my singing until I was singing in public at opera houses and making money off of it. Before that they thought I was crazy (and some probably still do) to pursue this.

 
 Respond to this message   

redmezzo
(Login redmezzo)
NFCS Member

hmmm

February 11 2010, 2:03 PM 

I must not be expressing this very nebulous concept very clearly, judging by many responses. I have not been an solely extrinsic-ly motivated singer who only looks for head pats and gold stars from a teacher. Rather, several years after leaving school, I'm finding that my feelings about my own work in a production/concert are in a very bizarre place and I'm looking for clues/answers/commiseration. I also have talked to many other colleagues who would lump this in with "school killed my love of singing, what does it take to get it back?", but I'm trying to find another dimension to that over which I have more control.

Thanks for the the well-intended input, folks! It gives me good insight as to how well/not well I verbalize ideas.

 
 Respond to this message   
amazonsop
(Login amazonsop)
NFCS Member

I think I get it

February 11 2010, 2:56 PM 

Of course, as is the nature of the forum, things branch off.

But I think in essence, your question is being answered. The person who gives you feedback about your performance is you. That's why we go to school and develop all of our musical snobbery, so afterwards you can say to yourself, well, all the f's were a little sharp, and that third Debussy didn't quite settle with the piano. I've found that I rely a lot on recordings of my performances because of course what I feel at the time is not always an objective reflection of what I accomplished or did not accomplish. But I'm finding that I need to wait a little while before I do this, because it can be a little unnerving obviously.

I work with a pianist who is fantastic, but who really never says anything about my singing. And for a while I thought that was great, but I am going through some changes recently and find that I too am craving feedback. And so I get out my little edirol and I sing into it and then I listen to it to figure out what's going on. I listen to myself the way that I would listen to someone else - trying to take the emotions out (not saying "Oh that was flat! How embarrassing!). Top notes pop out of the texture, vowels are inconsistent, final consonants are not clear enough etc etc. I have to be academic about it so it's a learning exercise and not self-destructive. You are smart enough to do that!

Of course, I have been out of school for 5 years. I never could have done this when I graduated, I was too emotionally fragile. And yes, now I am also looking for one of those no-BS coaches. Anyone who is really worth the money will tell you when things aren't quite up to snuff, but it has taken me five years to get to that point. I could never have handled it before.

 
 Respond to this message   
 
  << Previous Topic | Next Topic >>Return to index  
Find more forums on Network54Create your own forum at Network54
 Copyright © 1999-2017 Network54. All rights reserved.   Terms of Use   Privacy Statement  

All posts are © their original authors.