This topic is widely discussed in an attempt to qualm fears and anxieties of young adults. As it is graduation season, it seems to me that we all tend to reflect on where we currently stand according to our so-called life plans. The logical progression of various professions weighs heavily on the minds of college students and those recently released into the non-academic world. The wild place outside the safety of a campus where individuals suddenly have more ownership over schedules, friends, and professionalism.
Singers get the added fun of knowing that la voce is going to age (far sooner in our minds than is actually true, assuming that screamo doesn’t become hugely popular on the operatic stage. Then again, it could be argued that in some places it already is.) The years following accreditation, then, have a number of expectations: young artist programs, role preparation, and an ascending progression of important houses.
I, of course, have some general rebuttals for recent moments of anxiety- mostly in reference to the meaning of a “real job” and what “making it by the time I’m 30″ really means.” Instead of voicing them, however, I’d rather make note of my own journey which you’ll recall restarted very recently. (Sometimes it feels like it restarts everyday.)
After reading Daniel Coyle’s The Talent Code – http://thetalentcode.com/ – I have been pondering the well-recognized thought that it takes 10,000 hours of practice to make a master. (As Coyle argues, it’s not just 10,000 hours, but 10,000 well-spent hours alongside context, guidance, etc.) If I wasn’t really practicing well during my degrees, when do my 10,000 hours start? I remember several mentors and teachers stating that they didn’t really learn to sing until they had already finished their graduate degrees. Had I believed them I’d have been frustrated. Now, I am inspired by the fact that it’s still possible.
With the refreshing of my repertoire binder, I’m realizing that things that had bothered me about my journey have been blessings in disguise:
Singing way-too-low-for-me repertoire through my undergrad kept me from working appropriate rep into the ground. There are definitely some arias that I have squashed, killed, deconstructed past the point of no return. Thank goodness they aren’t arias I’m supposed to sing forever.
Moving to the middle of nowhere made me viable for a teaching job that I love even more than I ever thought I would. Had I been in a city I’d have filled my schedule with things I wasn’t ready for.
There are only so many high e’s you get to sing in a life time. Most of mine are ahead of me 🙂
What joy it brings to know that I get to work out the details of my craft when I’m old enough to really dive in.
My real job is living. Making it by the time I’m 30 has no need for consideration as I’m wondering about what I’m making right now.