Although it probably will not appear in this order, this is actually the 200th blog post I have written for The Sybaritic Singer. On such an occasion, I decided to do my own personal recap of last year’s 29 Days to Diva. The series of posts actually started out as a personal challenge to myself to blog every day for one month. Boy, was it an exciting experiment. I not only tackled the daily blogging challenge but also picked a topic that would challenge my conception of my singing career. I remember finishing the process in March and saying to a friend, “now I just have to follow my own darn advice.” (That might not be verbatim… )
Here is the intro from last year:
It is the last day of January and you may be realizing that things are often easier said than done. In that first blush of 2012 many of us made those hastily scribbled lists of things that we would certainly accomplish this time around. Now, you may, or many not, have stuck to your New Years resolutions like a tenor to a mirror but something tells me that the gym is getting a little less crowded and you aren’t spending quite as much time in your practice room as you once thought.
With that in mind, The Sybaritic Singer is reaching out to you every single day in February with our very own 29 Days to Diva.(#29daystodiva)
We certainly support taking care of your other resolutions, but this month, for the first Sybaritic Singer month-long challenge, we’re asking you to focus on your singing career as well as your waistline.
This doesn’t mean you need to stray away from your other responsibilities, nor start studying to take another theory entrance exam. It just means that each day this month we’ll be assigning you one task—from polishing your singing resume to creating a singing team—to brighten your classical musician outlook. We can’t guarantee that participating will have you dying of consumption on the Met stage by March, but we can guarantee you’ll be wiser and better prepared to handle your career, whether that’s more gigs or just a little more motivation to keep going.
In the interest of self-disclosure, I am going to post a short recap of my experience with 29 Days to Diva. Did I do it in 29 days? Heck no. Did I make a lot of little life/career improvements? Heck yeah!
Day 1: Practice! ◊ Given that I had four stage shows and at least 20 concerts during 2012, I can safely say I spent most days in rehearsal. But, a personal practice schedule? I’m still working on it. Making time to work beyond just the repertoire I have scheduled for concerts is a huge goal of mine that I continue to work on.
Day 2 – Fix That Résumé & Day 3 – A Singer’s Bio ◊ I try to keep these as updated as possible. I tweak the formatting and content every time I send them out for applications. You can check my examples out on my website: www.meganihnen.com
Day 4 — ‘Meet the Noblesse’ & Day 5 — ‘take a look, it’s in a book’ ◊ I definitely went to more performances in 2012 than ever before. I worked hard to be a non-sleazy networker and get to know more people in the Baltimore music scene and have been traveling to NYC more often to stay in contact with friends and colleagues there. If you want to keep up with what’s on my NOOK these days, connect with me on Goodreads. (Hint: you won’t find 50 Shades of Grey on there.)
Day 6 — Recordings: Bring the noise! ◊ I am still working on this one. I have not been as proactive as possible about getting live recordings from performances. I made recordings for specific auditions in 2012 but I could have done a more fully-fleshed recording session. Therefore, I cannot wait to get a wide variety of repertoire recorded and available to send out on a moment’s notice.
Day 7 – Audition like you mean it. ◊ If you have been reading recently you probably came across my post, let’s discuss: I Didn’t Win This One. I did an audition this fall for a summer program I really wanted to attend. Unfortunately, I didn’t get it. But, I felt like I had an awesome audition and will keep working on it with my upcoming auditions.
Day 8 – The Opera Singer’s Headshot, Day 9 – Get That Web Sensation, Day 10 – Document Your Life, Day 11 – Put Yourself Out There, Day 12 – Practice Professionalism ◊ “Too many singers reach the gap between young artist/pre-professional and professional only to become discouraged and insecure about putting themselves out into the field. Get out there, divas! Show ‘em what you got. As coach said back in the day, ‘we came here to chew some bubblegum and kick some ass… and we’re all out of bubblegum.'” Since it has been a few years since I graduated from grad school, I can sympathize with the discouragement mentioned above. However, I am trying to make my singing-self relevant and professional while making it as easy as possible for potential opportunities to find me – by searching high and low for them.
Day 13 – Be a Financial Watchdog, Day 14 — Spend on What You Love, Day 15 – Deal With Your Debt, Day 16 — Get a Side Gig ◊ This set of four posts dealt with the areas in which I made the most improvement and gave myself the most freedom to pursue diva-ness. I got real with my finances in 2012 like never before. I dealt with my student loan debt in a big way and added teaching jobs plus pro-chorister gigs to the mix to give my budget some cushion. Even though I’m not rakin’ it in by any means, this attention to financial detail allowed me to accomplish Day 15’s goal to spend on what I love. I spent a pretty penny to go to Banglewood this past summer and I don’t regret spending that money at all. I cannot stress the amount of freedom you will experience when you are not drowning in financial worry.
Day 17 – Evaluate Your Teacher ◊ In the same vein as “spend on what you love”, I realized that I could afford to start taking regular voice lessons again in 2012. I found a teacher that I not only enjoy working with but one who is revolutionizing my technique in a good way.
Day 18 – Become a Patron, Day 19 – How Do You Get to the Met? ◊ Day 18 & 19 were about supporting the music community around us from top to bottom. I put my money where my mouth is in 2012 by supporting 12 fundraising projects across various funding platforms like Kickstarter and Indiegogo. None of us are alone in the small world of classical music – no matter where it falls on the early to new spectrum. We must support each other and demonstrate that there is value in high culture.
Day 20 — Work It Out, Girl!, Day 21 — Singers with Benefits, Healthcare Benefits, Day 22 — Be Kind to Yourself ◊ Being healthy isn’t just a novel idea when it comes to being a singer; it is a necessity. We don’t make money or produce quality art when we are sick (physically or mentally.) I know that I must have a physical outlet to keep myself sane during stressful months so I pursued more healthy options like acupuncture, running half-marathons, and regular doctor’s appointments etc. in 2012.
Day 23 — Work On Your Languages, Day 24 — Create a Singing Team, Day 25 — Set Specific Goals ◊ Two out of three ain’t bad, right? I definitely set specific goals and have been doing all the little, non-sexy steps to complete them. I have also actively worked to keep my “team” strong and they have supported me in spades. Now, languages, that’s on the docket for 2013. Any suggestions? How do you fit language work into your busy schedules? Seriously, I want to know – leave me a comment below.
Day 26 — The Post-Show Schmooze, Day 27 — Move Up the Ladder, Day 28 — Get the Edge – Get a Coach ◊ My moving-up-the-ladder experience was with the summer festival I attended. I worked with amazing coaches, musicians, arts entrepreneurs, and friends. It was an inspiring experience. I only wish that everyone who attends summer programs could have the same uplifting experience. I’ll keep working on enjoying the post-show schmooze – it’s still hit or miss.
Day 29! Take the Leap! ◊ “Be the most successful and happy version of yourself and you will be a light and empower those around you… Make your mistakes from a place of preparedness and strong opinion. Do not make mistakes simply because you have not done the work. You are granted the freedom to make mistakes and to learn from them.” Whew. I certainly made some mistakes this year. But, I have taken time to review what I did last year, why I did it, and the after-effects of those decisions. My singing career is certainly different from any other and completely different from whatever I thought it would be. Rather than being discouraged by that, I am choosing to embrace it and continue to take the leap.
Thank you all for supporting my challenges. I hope that the upcoming series of 28 Days to Diva will be a partner, collaborator, and inspiration in your career.
…. So we beat on, boats against the current…