1. Thou shalt love the lord thy voice teacher with all thy heart and soul and mind.
And of course by that I mean, don't let what's shiny and new and super complimentary at your summer program entice you away from the person who has been slogging along day in and day out, working slow-but-sure wonders with your singing, taking your frantic competition panic calls, giving you the same advice over and over again that you never listen to, replying to your endless stream of emails, telling you you can do it, and generally building you up. Don't get poached. Just don't. Two voice lessons at a program do not a long-term strategy make. Change voice teachers every five minutes and you will be a mess.
2. Thou shalt not compare thyself to other singers who are older, and more experienced.
You will feel bad all the time. Be inspired by them, because they are making it happen, but don't be a victim and let their level of accomplishment get you down.
3. Thou shalt not condescend and give advice to singers who look up to you, just because you are older and more experienced.
They have people who they are paying to work on things with them. Don't step in with your extensive knowledge of the repertoire and confuse them by saying who they sound like, that they are really a tenor, that they should be singing Handel instead, you know...yes, you know exactly what I mean. What all the older singers did to you that made you feel weird and like you have no idea what direction your life is headed. Be the supportive, uplifting person that makes them feel good about who they are NOW.
4. Thou shalt NOT over-sing in Death-by-Aria the first night of the festival.
It's a classic mistake. Be the one who doesn't have to prove how loud they are. And then you will have a voice the next day when it is time for the really important stuff. What a concept.
5. Thou shalt absolutely use the summer to grow vocally even if you don't go to a program.
Listen to Lucia all the way through. Listen to something wild you would never normally want to listen to, like for me, that would include one of the Glass operas. Learn a role. Set up coachings with someone you have never worked with but have always wanted to. Take your audition arias to an acting coach.
6. Thou shalt not feel bad about thyself if you choose not to go and pay $4000+ this summer for a program.
The truth is, when you think about how long it takes a person like us to make that amount of money...it had better be one heck of an experience. So embrace your choice not to do it. You are being prudent, and start a little savings account for your audition trips in the fall.
7. Thou shalt give a recital for free just to be nice.
Get together with some friends and sing your audition arias, some new song repertoire, etc. for your church or a retirement community. It's a great way to try out new stuff. These kinds of things have certainly been invaluable for me in making discoveries about what is right and wrong for me to sing.
8. Thou shalt organize an aria club and call it Fight Club to be cool.
So, aria club could meet once a month, everyone kicks in for a pianist. Every second month, you have to sing something brand new. Sounds like good motivation to me!
9. Thou shalt attend an outdoor performance!
10. Thou shalt not forget to have fun.
Remember how living life makes us better singers? It does. For heavens sake go to the beach or the pool or something and enjoy yourself. Make dinner for friends. Be fabulous!