Yeah, that’s a big claim. I’m not sure I can actually live up to that title, but I couldn’t resist.
You see, I got vaxxed on Saturday, with no small amount of ridiculous drama. My appointment was sudden and unexpected, I really hate needles, I had to get a friend to drive me about 35 miles to get that shot, and it was not how I wanted to spend my weekend. I was not mentally geared-up to get back into the office for the part-time job that has sustained me through all of this, or to get back into the world in general. But in truth, a lecture from a very good friend, a good night’s sleep, a little reflection, and finally getting the damned thing over with made me realize that it really is time.
The world is opening up again, even for us hermits. I’m “ready” in some ways, but not others. I hear echoes of that same sentiment in a lot of our Listers. It’s all a matter of expectations, especially since most of us weren’t expecting performance venues to open up until the fall, and as of last week, all of a sudden California is suddenly making some changes. The Hollywood Bowl will start up in a matter of weeks (yay!) and other series across the country are starting to make real-life plans, even If those logistics include some restrictions and extra distance.
For my part, I had this idea in my head that we would relaunch the List into the post-pandemic world with a huge pile of new courses and materials, a brand new site (which actually will happen very soon), and so much to show for my 14 months in lockdown that the community would be struck by awesome silence. (Enter crickets. Wrong kind of silence.)
But like most grandiose endeavors, especially when you’re trying to make a living at the same time, many of the ideas I’ve been toying with aren’t going to work. (They can’t all work!) Some will, and you’ll see them soon. We’ll also continue a few of the things that showed promise in their COVID-fueled experimental phases: Group Coaching dates will be announced soon, there’s a podcast in the works, and we do have some courses that will be announced in the next couple of weeks. We will have resources to help you get your feet back under you and prepare you for whatever our new life in the arts ends up being, and the Listerhood will again pull together and be there for one another.
One of the biggest challenges we have always faced, since the beginning of the List, is that too many singers simply don’t believe they should have to pay for anything. That may be an exaggeration in some cases, but it’s a very common attitude that in some ways defines the way that those individuals get in their own way. I’m not bringing this up to talk you into sending me money, although we will be opening up memberships again soon. But in my pondering of this cultural reality within the vocal community, the consequences of what I’ve come to think of as the lone and very DIY artist have become very real, and honestly, very sad.
There’s a sense of fatalism that grows in many classical singers, as if they know that their career path is already doomed, and while they cannot give up performing, they soldier on, accepting their sad martyred fate and taking what scraps might come their way. This approach is desperately tragic, and I’m horrified to think that I may have taken part in perpetuating that terrible myth. In appearances and even on this blog, I have often been frank about the simple fact that not everyone who wants to will make a living as a singer. What I’m discovering is that too many people take the reality check too far, and have come to believe that only a special, lucky few ever get to make their living in this field. The prospects and possibilities are certainly better than that, and it’s time for some reconfiguring.
More than anything, the vocal community needs better messaging, from the way we are taught to the way we talk to each other to the way that we talk to ourselves. It needs to start in high school or earlier, showing talented young performers that entrepreneurial spirit is essential to survival in this world. That has been much discussed in recent years, and is well-trodden territory. Good changes are showing themselves, and I have a lot of hope for the savvy educators who are trying to change a status quo that has been many, many decades in the making.
But I also believe there is hope for those who have already emerged, started to work, and even established themselves and who are now well into their careers. For the talented singers who are willing to do the work, and plenty of it, there are opportunities to be had — or made — even now, when life is still quite strange. And I do believe we can help with that. What I know for sure is that everybody needs a little help.
I’m not going to lay out everything right here. (Heaven save us from that kind of rambling.) But I can promise you this: We are already working to build a better List, and one that has much room to grow. The new calendar is already available, and ready for your submissions. We’re refocusing, shedding some programs that are no longer effective, building a new website, and spending a lot of time listening to not only our members, but to esteemed leaders in the community (read: the people hiring you) who can tell us what they think singers need. We’ll continue to roll out new ideas, new features, and new programs as they become available. You’ll just have to stay tuned for the details. (I know, I know. It’s just so hard! 🥱😤😠)
But all of this growth is two-sided, and what we’re creating here is symbiosis, not just mere service. If you want to grow, there is much work to be done. If you haven’t started yet, do something today. Right now is your moment to commit to yourself and to your own future, and I cannot wait to see who steps up. I’ll be in touch.