A young(ish) opera singer's random thoughts and observations.

Saturday, 23 February 2013

When to say 'no'

For those waiting for more Donald Maxwell stories, rest assured I am writing them down, but on this particular occasion I'm going to write about something else: when to say 'yes' and when to say 'no'.

Now I feel I should start off by saying that I personally have no idea, and tend to err on the side of 'yes', and it's all been fine so far, in fact if I hadn't jumped on an opportunity in December by (perhaps foolishly) accepting a concert with only one day to learn half of Bach's Christmas Oratorio, I would probably not be in the fortunate position of having an agent. Let me stress however that the whole adventure was a very stressful experience and a bit of a gamble: I learn music fairly quickly these days, but I'm no sight-reading machine and I don't feel comfortable if I haven't spent time to prepare to the point of excess. Despite my discomfort during the gig in question, however, I delivered and scored a significant win!

You'd think this was a great argument for the 'always say yes' approach. Maybe not... I was recently told off for taking on too much, and although this didn't refer to my singing per se, but rather my volunteer work for Opera'r Ddraig during a time of audition madness (which is still going on, in fact, I'm writing this on the train to London for 2 auditions in 1 day!). At the time I thought little of it, I fulfilled my commitments to Ddraig, sang two auditions to the best of my ability (I mean this in a good way: I sang as well or better than I ever have in auditions... Didn't succeed in one, but that just goes to show a singer's career is rarely an out and out success story), and all was well. But now, a couple of weeks of rehearsals and auditions later, I'm tired.

Not vocally, but mentally. With a recent injury stopping me from getting out on the water to paddle, I find my life revolving solely on singing, and to be honest I've had enough. If I'm not rehearsing or auditioning, I'm learning new repertoire for upcoming projects, travelling, looking for accommodation for the Summer rehearsal period, or going to the opera (fun, but not really a moment of 'switching off'). I even find myself talking to friends, or what's worse my girlfriend, only about singing...

So I've decided to do something that I have never done before: pull out of a gig without any health reason. In hindsight I should have cancelled the moment it became apparent that the concert was to be the day after the final show of Lucretia (of 3 in a row) and leave me barely a day off before starting rehearsals for The Bear with a contemporary song cycle looming as well. I feel bad, but my diary is still not really my own until I leave college, so a degree of prioritising is necessary and as I'm learning the value of taking it easy every now and again, I am beginning to appreciate the value of saying 'no' when necessary, and actually trying to preempt potential crises.

Is there a point I'm driving towards? Um... Not really. When do you say 'yes' and when do you say 'no'? Who knows... Say 'yes' whenever you can, and 'no' whenever you have to.

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