Today’s special guest post is by Jo Ramadan, one of the leading accompanists in the UK.
As I play for a group of wonderful singers auditioning for a young artist programme later today, I am reminded of just what an amazing thing they do. I have felt this increasingly recently, especially playing for days of auditions for small independant opera companies.
You get to see so much during a day, and really witness something of struggle that the job of a singer entails. There is an openness and vulnerability which is almost heartbreaking. For some, they are riding the crest of a wave, possibly have some hype behind them, maybe a big competition win and they walk into a room and hopefully electrify people. For some, you feel they are coming into a room, pulling the weight of rejections past, missed chances, bad teachers, and the creeping knowledge that something about them just doesn’t fit the mould, whilst they still fight and hope against hope they know that with the weight behind, they also push their dream up an ever steepening hill.
With no instrument to hide behind (I am so glad to have a piano) they are essentially standing naked in front of people, some of whom are lovely and supportive, some of whom are total arseholes who shouldnt be allowed within a hundred feet of a singer, and they ask them to love who they are. Not the way they sound, not the way they sing high notes or low notes, not their language, not their sense of character, but fundamentally who they are.
This is why I love singers and all things singing. They may be the most wonderful engaging and inspiring people, they may be egotistical and in a couple of notable cases we all probably agree on, rather punchable. But fundamentally, they are heroes. I couldn’t do it, and I think that most people have no idea how many tears have been cried into pillows at night in pursuit of a dream that nobody realised was quite so hard.
But hey, keep singing, nothing is worth having unless you have fought with every ounce. The days of our great celebrity singers who ruled the world with only a pretty voice and no clue about much else are hopefully behind us. The rewards are not so flash, the money isn’t so amazing, but if you can look in the mirror at night after removing your stage make up and say honestly and with a smile, “best I could have done”, you won’t be going far wrong.
Remember, you will always be a hero of mine, unless you are one of the punchables we discussed.
Happy Singing! J x