Living Opera: VOCAL TRANSITIONS
Vocal transitions are a perfectly normal occurrence for EVERY singer. We hope our tips leave you feeling better prepared for that inevitable change!
Any time your life shifts, vocally or otherwise, it brings a period of destabilization. It seems, oftentimes, that gifted people have to fight for their stability, even when things are going very well. The combination of talent, intelligence, personality and ambition can leave highly functional people overwhelmed when not tempered with a firm personal foundation, and healthy, thriving relationships. This is exacerbated when your voice starts misbehaving!
Accepting where you are today
People who are constantly longing for change baffle us - they are basically saying they want to be in constant upheaval! Vocal change, or rather, GROWTH, is almost always an invitation for personal transformation, and all of this takes time, time, and MORE time!
If you are going to get through this challenging phase, you are going to have to learn to be content in the present moment. Looking backwards will fuel bitterness of what you think should have been, while constantly wishing for a new future will instill fear of what might not come.
Learning to be content here, now, will create the peaceful atmosphere you need to focus on the tasks at hand. There are different ways to achieve this, and they are usually highly personal. For us, we used, (and still use!), a combination of study, meditation, prayer, and therapy to learn contentment, stillness, acceptance, and patience.
New voice, new era
When you're in the middle of the process it can be tempting to solicit "advice" from many different sources as a means of a quick fix or escape from the process, especially when it comes to people who have the power to give you a job. We do not recommend doing that! If you ask someone for "advice", when what you really want is a job/representation etc., know that you will likely come away with more confusing opinions about you, and not a job. People cannot read your mind. If you want a job, ask for a job. If you truly want advice, then ask for it.
If you once had a favorable relationship with a director, conductor, agent or casting director, it is advisable to leave them out of this process and present yourself to them after the entire shift is completed. (There are exceptions of course.) In such circumstances it is always better to rely on your existing team, provided you are all on the same page about your development. (See our talk on teams and find out who you need on your team!!)
If there is some disagreement within your inner circle about what is ultimately YOUR choice about your instrument and career, you may need to seek out a couple of new people to give a fresh take on your voice and point you in a direction you may not have even considered.
"There will always be people who are stuck on your old vocal identity, and they won’t change their minds until they experience the new you. Don’t stress about that."
Do not be surprised at the challenges you face when you are feeling out this new territory. The best thing you can do is be honest with yourself about your psychological state, which will likely be tied to how your voice is doing.
Keep talking to people you trust, keep working, and keep pressing onwards during this time of new beginnings. Celebrate the small wins. Acknowledge the hard days, but let them go the best you can. Speaking from experience, it will get better. And if you are in the middle of the storm today, we hope you'll find the horizon very soon. You are not alone, and you are not crazy. You are GROWING!
1. Consult your voice teacher to make sure you are going through a transition. Find out if your whole voice is shifting, or if there is a specific register that is changing. (We explain more about this in the video.)
2. Check your finances. If you need to take some time off, make sure your family can do that.
3. Talk to your team and if necessary, cancel inappropriate gigs well in advance. Find out which roles from your old repertoire are still viable. This will help bridge the gap in your old and new career path.
4. Have a media plan. Depending on your visibility, you will need to give a public statement about your new direction, and you can also view this time as a chance to reinvent yourself and your public image.
5. Be ready for lots of opinions, but stick to your plan. Repeat after me: "I have the power to ignore you." You will need to be tough and focused to listen to the voice of reason in this period, rather than fear, intimidation, lies, and discouragement.
6. Start to learn roles that you know will be appropriate, even if you aren’t contracted for them, especially if you are going into a rare fach. Your first breaks may come from being the only one who knows the music!!!
7. Once you’re comfortable with your new voice, make a simple demo. Choose 3 short pieces and highlight the new, exciting things about your voice. You can literally do this with an iPhone and a tripod to start out with.
8. Create your new media materials and update your bio. Feel free to mention something about your new direction, but don’t elaborate more than one or two sentences.
9. Get ready for a NEW CHAPTER! You may need to change geographical location, get a new wardrobe, a new team, who knows?!
10. Once you’re established in your new vocal identity, be generous with others and share your experiences. Take a colleague out for coffee and tell them about how you got through it. Share your wisdom. Vocal transitions can be really scary, especially if you’re going through them on stage, in front of the industry and your peers.