Technology is a glittering moon. But, there is the rare occasion when the public is engaged beyond the flash…
In the commotion of learning roles, recital repertoire, and the overall business of being a classical singer it is difficult to keep all the memories stored in our brains. Most of us grew up with journals and diaries locked away under our beds or tucked in dressers. Details about people and events that were so important to our lives at that very moment fill up page after page. Photographs and ticket stubs haphazardly stuck in between the sheaves. Some of us (moi included) jumped to blogging as a means to capture these fleeting moments. Most young artist are highly skilled at social documentation using Facebook, Flickr, and Instagram. Now that you have your website, after yesterday’s challenge, it is time to start strategically observe your own career.
Your day 10 challenge is to document your singing life.
Most of us carry the technology around everyday without noticing how it can help us document our career. You have a phone, a camera, a voice recorder, a flipcam – use this technology to your advantage!
29 days to diva (#29daystodiva) challenged you to create all sorts of documents. Your accomplishments in list and prose form are saved neatly to your computer or in the cloud. However, there are other ways to keep track of your progress using the written word.
Keep a journal. People use journaling to track their progress on all sorts of long-term goals. There a food diaries, travel blogs, exercise daybooks, and more. Consider keeping a practice journal to help you with the Day 1 challenge. If you have ever heard of the 10,000 hours to mastery concept, you may want to use that a the basis for your journal. Take time to document what you did in your solo practice as well as what you learned in rehearsal and how long you spent refining your craft that day. Start to recognize the patterns that crop up in your practicing. This is a highly under-rated learning tool.
Track your repertoire. Break it up into two main sections: prepared and performed repertoire and add more description by using headings like opera roles, arias, oratorio, musical theater, art song, and orchestral. Many top-level summer programs will ask for a repertoire list and you want to provide them with a well-documented account of your experience.
Print copies of your applications and keep your files organized. This is another area where you will be able to recognize trends and patterns.
Our jobs, compared to so many others, are full of exciting situations and diverse people. We collaborate with interesting musicians, directors, and composers on a regular basis. A great piece of advice from a mentor of mine was, “Whenever you are working with someone more experienced and higher up the professional ladder – take a picture with them.” Add these to your website to demonstrate that you are a working part of the community and someone who works well with others.
Furthermore, take pictures in your various opera costumes. If you take well to wigs and diverse garments that can be an asset. As a mezzo, showing that you make a believable pants-role can help you win the role. Production photos may also be useful report cards for your on-stage personality.
Want some apps to help you with your career keepsakes? Check out this article: Nice Apps! Top 5 to Document Your Life.
Video is certainly having its moment on the web these days. According to YouTube, “48 hours of video are uploaded every minute, resulting in nearly 8 years of content uploaded every day.” Moreover, “Over 3 billion videos are viewed a day.”¹ Itty-bitty video cameras are all around. Many singers are using this technology to add another dimension to their online press kit and/or website. There are a couple of things to remember when videotaping performances: let people know that you are videotaping and announce your intentions for that footage.
Go for the best quality you can get. Remember that anything you put on the internet can come back to haunt you. Edit yourself and your video to portray yourself as a musician in the best way. At the same time, do not be afraid to show that you have fun in your career — you are not a singing robot. I recently posted a 10 second video someone took of me mugging for the camera and used it as a way to entice people to come to an upcoming show. That short video got more social media attention than did most of my event postings the week prior.
There are so many ways to document your career while you are actively living it. Using these tools will help shape and build your singing brand. The most important part is that the documentation must be for you first and foremost. This type of refined focus on your accomplishments and your collaborators is something that helps define your goals and strategies for advancement. Take time to recognize patterns that are valuable and perhaps some trends that are personal stumbling blocks. Your capacity for introspection and ability to reconcile as an individual separate from the environment and other individuals will strengthen you as a performer, a colleague, and a business person.
Do you have some tips you would like to share? What forms of documentation do you find the most effective? Tell us in the comments below.
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