Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Focus and Preparation

It is freezing.  Not as cold here as in Ohio where Joe is teaching-- it was 5 degrees this morning when he got in the car!  But it makes it difficult to move and even harder to get motivated to do anything other than sit under a blanket watching movies!

The air is very, very dry here, so I've been using my favorite "avoid getting sick tactics" like Vick's Vapo Rub all over my nose at night, saline nasal spray every hour or so, and washing my hands like crazy.  Which, sadly, is not great for my skin or my manicure, but a girl has to take precautions.

To be honest, this time of the year is busier with auditions for me than the fall and pre-Christmas, so I'm taking lots of time to get the new stuff up and ready to go.  I had a great audition on Saturday and it marked a huge change in the way I see auditioning.

I've decided that there is absolutely no room for uncertainty when it comes to auditioning.  You either really do an audition, like its your job, like you WANT the job, like the job is yours, or you don't.  And the difference between one and the other is two things: preparation and focus.

The preparation part of it should be obvious for most of us by now-- but for me it HAS to include the acting part as much as the musical part.  I cannot just wing it in terms of the character.  I have to know what my arms and hands and everything are doing, and where the person is that I'm talking to in the aria.  I usually force Joe to let me try out some of the acting moments and ask him what is more believable.  This is great, because sometimes I do weird-ass things that don't make sense, and having another opinion is key.  However, I have found that if I believe fully in what I am saying and doing and totally commit to it, everyone else believes it too, no matter how over the top the gesture.

The focus part is not so clear cut.  For me it is all about my mindset going into the audition.  I HAVE to have faith that I am up to the challenge.  I have to get to the place mentally where I can trust in my vocal readiness and preparation so that I can do both singing and acting at the same time.  Sometimes this is very difficult.  I'm not sure how I get there, but this Saturday, I did it by taking plenty of time before starting the aria to really get my breath and think about who my character was.  Often, the pianist will start and not give you the time you need, but this time, I was lucky to have a very sensitive pianist on my team.
The other piece of focusing for me is reminding myself that this is not an aspiration for me any more, and its not just a fun hobby.  This is a job, and I have to show the panel that I can do the job and that I want the job.  I have to project confidence.  And the only way to project it is to actually have it.  The only way to have it is to work very hard.
Another way in which focus is key is to be so involved with music making that I do not spend any time listening to my own audition.  When I listen to myself, I drag the tempo and sing with too much control and not enough freedom.  Trying to control each note is always a bad idea.  Of course, there are moments when a singer knows they must focus in on a vocally difficult section or group of notes, but not the whole aria.

Putting all of this into play at once really takes practice, but for me it is always mostly about believing I can do it, and mindfully carrying it out.

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