Saturday, 11 January 2014

Confirmation, Affirmation and learning from Failure

The temperature has dropped today and it is feeling decidedly chilly. I must submit my tax return online tomorrow, which I always find something of a slightly stressful activity, but before that, I and some Inner Sound friends are going to Mass in the main town of Paradise to celebrate one of my young student's confirmation and First Communion. There will be a buffet afterwards and the opportunity to give a small gift to mark the occasion.

I tried to find a confirmation card yesterday, and met with E who was on the same mission, all to no avail! Paradise is very short of Catholic events congratulations stationary ! So I plumped for a cheery and bright sunflower card hoping it will give the feeling of joy !

My daughter started back at the Junior Royal Academy of Music today, and chatted to me on her way home. It seems she was late this evening because as Head of Voice she had to have one of those tricky conversations with a young Upper 6 student studying there who failed to achieve a place at Conservetoire and was rather down and confused.

This young lad, S said, sings beautifully and actually won the Ann Lampard Intermediate Singing Prize last year, which was judged by one of the Heads of Dept at a famous Music College in London, so he must have been high quality ! The raw truth of the matter is that he was simply too young. This was an annual battle which when I was in charge at the JRAM, I regularly had with both students and parents. It is so hard to convince parents whose background may vary from Medicine to the Stock Market and all jobs inbetween, that performing is DIFFERENT. We simply cannot honestly recommend taking the huge step of auditioning, to youngsters however talented, until they are physically developed, mentally ready to take all the knocks, and intellectually broad enough to understand some of the deep and profound meanings of many of the songs which would be suitable for an audition programme.

Being able to sing the song well, even brilliantly, is just not enough. It seems the young man in question was deeply disappointed but took onboard what she was saying, and understood that he was just too young, and if he was not prepared to take out the entirely necessary year or two needed for maturing purposes, he should think about auditioning as a post graduate after doing a degree at a good university. Well done that young man - let's hope his parents are as accepting !

Much of the work of a singing teacher is advising, guiding and explaining, as much as it is technique and interpretation ! We are as counsellors, life coaches and even therapists, so complex is the life of an aspirant performer. For many years I spent my life telling starry eyed young singers all the rotten bits of the life, all the downsides of having little work and earning peanuts, that I sometimes got to the stage where I wondered why I was doing the job ! The truth of it had to be told - the only bit of glam were the few moments of glorious applause after the encore of a recital, or the finale of an opera, and that adrenalin hit faded into the distance once the make up was off, and the trek to find food at 11pm when on tour in Nottingham, kicked in !

It is a wonderful job, and if a young singer is really driven I would never stop them having a bash, but they need to be as driven as an obsessive compulsive on speed. Otherwise be a happy amateur and have the best of both worlds !


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