Well, the recital is definitely not happening in January. I had a little setback in the form of a botched audition, and my goals are shifting. I don’t know where this will wind up, but for now, I’m taking away the pressure of performing as a singer.
I really thought I could reinvent myself as a musical theater performer, and maybe I still can. I tend to believe anything is possible if you set your mind to it. The sticking point is setting your mind. And setting it again. And again, and again. Anyway, the botched audition was a learning opportunity, and I don’t mean that in a cynical way. I’m grateful for what I learned.
It was a last-minute call to come in and sing for a show I knew very little about. I looked it up online, learned what I could, then grabbed a song I hadn’t done in more than a year, got up the next morning, did a meager warm-up, and drove to the theater.
I wasn’t nervous. I feel completely at home in a theater. I will audition for any director, anywhere, anytime, as an actor. I know exactly what I’m doing with spoken text. But when I walked into the audition room and got up in front of people I didn’t know, to sing material I hadn’t sufficiently prepared, for a show I’d never read, the bottom dropped out of my voice. Nerves or butterflies or blood-sucking parasites took over my breathing apparatus, and I sang like the amateur I apparently am.
Lesson learned: PREPARE. Sing often. Have a repertoire of songs you know you can KILL in any situation. Sing in front of people. Warm up daily. Don’t get stuck in one style (e.g. don’t spend six months on Italian arias and then try to shift into Country on a day’s notice, unless you’re a much better singer than I am). And don’t assume that because you can sing, you will be able to sing well in any situation. Don’t tempt the Muse. She’s fickle.
I gained a HUGE measure of respect for my friends who do musicals. They are brilliant. (You know who you are. If you even think I am talking about you, I am.) I gained a better sense of what it will take for me to become a singer. And, for now, I canceled my recital plans.
But all is not lost. I did sing a solo on the Sunday between Christmas and New Year, traditionally a “low” Sunday when hardly anyone comes to church. I practiced hard for that. I did everything I realized I should have done for the audition: practiced daily, worked on my weaknesses, went over my trouble spots again and again, rehearsed in the space, etc.
Even so, I was nervous. I stared at my music the whole time I was singing, even though I’d memorized the song. Isn’t that crazy? Twenty-five years in professional theater, and I couldn’t look at an audience while I sang.
I have a long way to go.
But that’s a good thing, isn’t it? Something to strive for. Something to dream about. Even if I never sing professionally, I am learning volumes. I can live with that. For now.