Leaving Classical Singer

I have ended my involvement with The Entrepreneurial Career column at Classical Singer Magazine, which I’ve been writing for nearly three years now. I’ll miss the role, but I feel it was time to leave it. Here’s why.

First, what it’s not. I remember discovering CS on the shelves of Patelson’s (anyone remember Patelson’s?) sometime after college. With audition listings (otherwise hard to find back then), you-go-girl encouragement, and useful ideas for managing your career, it was an 8 ½ x 11 beacon of hope. I’ve been grateful to contribute to this resource for five years now, and I hope to continue the relationship with occasional articles going forward.

But I found myself putting together my columns more hastily than my readers deserved. And given my current lifestyle choices, that is, parenthood, anything that was requiring extra time needed to be scaled back. More than that, my column became my aspirational way of describing what I didn’t have time to do with my own musical endeavors.

Encouraged by the good feedback I’ve heard from readers, I also felt it was time to move this discussion on musical entrepreneurialism beyond the paywall and to a broader musical audience – namely, other musicians and classical music stakeholders.

Even more importantly, I want to speak to and find out more about the people who once were ambitious about joining the performing elite but have found other roles for themselves, or left the field entirely. The 99%, if you will. Everyone from the solid church-gig singer who gave up dreams of an operatic career to the new MBA whose musical past lies buried in her LinkedIn profile.

Also, I no longer wish to give singers – that is, mostly women – the false impression that they are just one product away from the career they want. Buy this pay-to-sing! Get your masters degree! Study with this teacher! Heck, read this column!

I feel that many women come to the performing arts out of our socialized need to win the approval of many, and powerful forces exist to profit from that need, rather than encourage our commitment to the art form in our best capacity. With enormous competition among women especially, there is a good chance that you will do everything in your power, you may even be super talented, but you will not earn your living as a professional performer.

Then the question becomes – what next? What do you do with your education and passion if it’s not working out the way you wanted? If you produce your own musical programming, how do you make it sustainable? If you are no longer active as an artist, are you happy to become an audience member, or is classical music the ex-lover you wish you hadn’t known? How do we participate in music once we start families, especially since few cultural institutions have programming for very young children and their parents?

As technology continues to command our cultural focus and organizational blunders threaten the existence of cultural institutions, it behooves artists – and onetime artists – to address the question of where in our lives classical music should flourish.

If we don’t, then who will?

To these ends, the focus of this blog will be:

  1. Resources for the Musical 99%
    • Entrepreneurialism tips and warnings
    • Music in your life when you are no longer in music
    • Women in the performing arts
    • Humor (we’re gonna need it)
  1. Good and Bad Audience Development
    • Initiatives that build a following by staying true to classical music
    • Sell-outs
    • Comparisons to other fields (food, sports, business)
  1. Ideas for Music for Young Families
    • Promotion of good events/initiatives
    • Pointing out missed opportunities
    • The good and bad of music education

About thousandfoldecho

Everyone likes classical music. Not everyone knows it yet.
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4 Responses to Leaving Classical Singer

  1. sangerinde says:

    Wow. Bravo, you. Just bravo. A reminder why I don’t read magazines like this (which always feel like they’re marketed to new conservatory grads and hero-worshippers of one kind or another. I look forward to reading your blog some more.

    • Thank you sangerinde! And yeah, I’m done with the hero worship, and I hope to give people some different perspectives they use to decide where they would like to be in the music ecosystem. Let’s talk!

  2. scillagrace says:

    I love that you’re exploring the 99%, especially women. I’m sure that each of us could tell a tale, and they’d all be unique but related. And music is one of those things that can stay with you in as many forms as there are hosts for them. What am I doing? Well, I did the church-gig thing and the teacher thing (still doing a small amount of that), and now I’m doing the audience thing as well as listening to a TON more recorded music than I ever had time to as a student, thanks to the fact that I live with a bookseller who has a collection of more than 10,000 CDs and a library of Fanfare magazines dating back to the late 70s.

    • And we have even more in common. One day you wake up and realize you’re just too old for a young artist program. But let’s hear it for our record collecting spouses! Hoarding the good stuff that you can’t find anymore, and yes, listening to it makes for good times!

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