Today, I would like to share with you the story of a friend of mine,
Sarah is a freelance opera singer, like myself,
and just last year things were going very well for her.
She had around 40 performances of Le Nozze di Figaro
with a fun, young troupe.
This meant consistent work for months and on top of that she
had some concerts and jump-in opportunities,
due largely in part to this touring gig.
She was on the train all the time, singing great music,
meeting fantastic people. Her schedule was booked solid for
months until...well...it wasn’t.
After a hectic time her calendar looked frightfully empty and
she had no idea where or when her job would be.
Sarah’s story is not at all uncommon in this business.
At times, we musicians are so busy we wonder why we even pay
rent on a flat we never see while
just a few months later we wonder how we will pay rent on a flat
at all. Don’t get me wrong - down-time can be a most welcome gift;
it allows us to re-group, re-focus, and refresh.
However, what are we musicians to do when faced with a “slump”?
Motivation can be especially tough to muster up when we literally
do no know when our next paycheck is on the way.
First and foremost we must see those blank pages in
our diary as opportunity.
While we cannot deny that performances are what pay the bills,
we must also acknowledge that they are merely the acme of weeks,
if not months, of work we very rarely get paid to do in the first
Self-discipline is the key to our success.
Make no mistake, there is plenty to do and staying active is
the best way to stay motivated.
Here are a few of the things I recommend:
1. Learn something new.
If you happen to have some extra
time on your hands, by all means learn
(or re-learn!) an essential role for your fach
or an important concerto for your instrument.
We all understand that performing is about much more than
technically delivering the notes written on a page but
often times a hectic schedule doesn’t allow us the luxury of
really digging into a piece. Artistically, deeply, and
creatively throw yourself into the music of your choosing.
You can only benefit from this experience and plus you never
know when you may be asked to perform it.
2. Call upon your team of experts.
Schedule as many lessons with your teacher
and the coaches you trust as you can afford.
Being on the road or booked solid can sometimes allow bad
habits to creep in to our technique.
Nothing beats working with someone whose ears you trust to
help you make strides forward.
3. Create your own performance opportunity.
Practicing and coaching
is one thing; performing is another.
Create your own performance opportunity,
even if it is in your mother-in-law’s living room.
Invite friends, family, and some discerning colleagues
to hear that new role or concerto you have been learning.
Not only will you gain experience, but friends and family will
be thrilled to hear you perform and their enthusiasm is contagious.
Though you may not have any
performances on the horizon, you most likely know people who do.
Why not go see your colleagues perform?
Not only will you get to hear some interesting music
while supporting friends, you will also have the chance to make
new contacts. Ask your friends to introduce you to a
conductor or fellow musician. Networking in this
business is a must and nothing is better than a
Have those business cards ready and be sure to follow-up with a call or email. Your next job may depend upon it!
5. Relax. Literally.
Tank up on your sleep, take some yoga classes,
have a glass of wine with your friends, watch
some TV with your significant other.
Let yourself unwind a little when you have the luxury
of some spare time; you may soon be rehearsing La Boheme
hours a day, half-way across the world.
Just be sure you know the difference between taking it easy
and being lazy!
6. Get inspired.
This is, for me, most essential.
Doubt and fear have a nasty way of creeping up on us during
Instead of giving in, listen to a piece you
can’t wait to perform or perhaps one that inspired
you to start this whole crazy journey in the first place.
Go see a performance by your local symphony. Check out some
local art. Spend a few hours lost in all of the fantastic
Youtube clips of old singers and conductors.
When that little little voice of doubt starts singing
its tune, turn up the volume and sing louder.
What do YOU do to stay motivated? Let us know in the comments section!
Anne Wieben is a freelance operatic soprano, currently residing in Vienna, Austria. For more information, check out her HELLOSTAGE profile
or visit her website: www.annewieben.com!