The past edition of Classical Singer Magazine (basically the only publication created solely for assisting Classical Singers through the tumultuous lives we lead) featured an article on why we sing. 4 singers at various stages in their development- from high school to semi-professional- explained why they love this seemingly impossible career choice. The young, bright-eyed, bushy-tailed high school singers spoke of their passion for the art, their enjoyment of the spotlight, and how singing allows them to be something that they are not. The older singers focused more on their contentment with the art form. They may not have made it big in the business, but they were able to justify all of the massive monetary expenses that singing cost them because singing is an integral part of their lives. To breathe is to sing. To sing is to breathe.
As I stand at a crossroads in my vocal career, I have to ask myself the same question. My schooling is complete…. at least for now. I have worked 6 long, difficult years to achieve my degrees, but now what? I am balancing 4 different jobs in addition to my practicing, auditioning, and performing; yet, I am still not financially stable. I’m spending half of the hours in my workday doing unpaid singing work…. and sometimes I’m actually paying to get the chance to do this singing work. In school, I did not need to evaluate the time I spent practicing because it was my homework, but now I have to practice on my own time. I feel like I should stand by a freeway on-ramp holding a cardboard sign reading “Will Work to Sing.”
So, why do I sing? I sing because I can not imagine my life without music. I believe I was 9 months old when I uttered my first melody and I’ve been humming ever since. A look at my old elementary school report card shows that I was a great, attentive student, but that I had a penchant for humming in class…. without realizing it. My foot is constantly tapping out a beat in time with the music rushing through my head: I call it my inner jukebox. Since I can remember, it has been my dream to be a performer–Be it tap dancing at the front of my mother’s flower shop, on the stage with the local acting troupe, or at the Metropolitan Opera House. When I get depressed, happy, tiresome, exhausted, excited, silly, or any extreme of emotion, I turn to music to bring me back to homeostasis. Music keeps me centered. Music keeps me grounded. Music clears my mind and gives me a vacation, albeit a brief one, from real life. If I look back at all the major events in my life, I realize that they all revolve around music and performing.
Why do I sing? Because it is who I am and who I’ve always been. And I will take all the part-time, labor-intensive jobs I need to so that I can keep singing in my life.