Hi Readers! It’s that time of year, that wonderful time when the shelves are stripped bare at Target: it’s back to school! So BSR’s esteemed Executive Director Margaret Felice, an accomplished singer, writer and teacher, has assembled this great list of tips for singers navigating their first years in college or conservatory. Seriously, where was this when I started at NEC?? Happy Reading! Angela
8 Back to School Tips from BSR
Ah, September, when the weather turns cooler, moving trucks crowd the city streets, and many of us settle back in to a routine of classes, homework, and rehearsals. Boston Singers’ Resource has a few tips for music students this fall. If you’re looking for more ideas and support, check out membership at bostonsingersresource.org.Go to class
We shouldn’t have to say this, but we will anyway. Every class you have is important, even if it is not performance based, and even if it meets at 8:00 in the morning. You want to keep your professors on your side, and keeping your grades up can help with scholarships and future education. Some music schools are very small, and word gets around quickly if you are being flaky.
Pay attention to your body
Being a voice student means you are constantly on alert for a sniffle or a tickle in your throat. Maybe in dance or movement classes you learn about body mapping and alignment. Put that attention toward all aspects of your health. How do you feel after eating pizza late at night, or not getting enough sleep? Probably crummy, and this will affect your singing. It’s a safe bet that drinking, drugs, and smoking will also make you feel rotten, which is one of many reasons to avoid all three.
Young singers can learn so much from watching others perform. Those of you who are in Boston have no excuse – you can’t turn around without finding a performance to attend. Listen to as much as you can, take advantage of student discounts and free performances, and carry a notebook so you can jot down names of pieces or performers you want to learn more about.
Establish good habits
The first few weeks of school can set the tone for the whole year. Go to class, eat regular healthy meals, live frugally, exercise, and PRACTICE. Make time in the practice room part of your routine from the start of the semester so you don’t have to worry about being rusty or underprepared later in the term.
Communicate with your teacher
Always let your teacher know what you are interested in, what concerns you, and what you think you need to work on. They bring their expertise into a partnership with you, and you hold up your end of the deal by being an engaged, punctual, prepared student.
Humility doesn’t mean being down on yourself – it just means being realistic about what your strengths and weaknesses are. Maybe you’ve got killer high notes, or you were cast as the lead in the first opera of the year, but there are always things you can learn and improve. This attitude helps you grow as an artist (and might make it easier for you to make friends, our next tip).
The person sitting next to you in music history today may end up being a lifelong friend. Even if they are not, it is likely that you will work with them quite a bit during your time in school and possibly beyond. A strong network of colleagues will make school much more enjoyable, and help as you move into a career. Avoid cliquishness and stay open to others.
Make use of resources
You have teachers, professors, friends, music librarians, databases and facilities at your disposal during your time in school. Ask lots of questions, do as much research as you can, and seek out the resources that you need. If you are a student in New England, consider one of BSR’s affordable student memberships, which gives you access to audition postings, discounted rates at our workshops (including our upcoming workshop on 9/10 (https://www.bostonsingersresource.org/programs-and-events/workshops-and-masterclasses/), exclusive member discounts (https://www.bostonsingersresource.org/programs-and-events/member-discounts/) a profile on our website, and more (https://www.bostonsingersresource.org/learn-more/). It’s easy to join online at www.bostonsingersresource.org.
Have a great academic year, and let us know how Boston Singers’ Resource can be a resource to you!
Margaret Felice is a singer, educator, and writer living in Boston, and is Executive Director of Boston Singers’ Resource. During 2016 she has appeared as Jenny in Company and Suor Genovieffa in Suor Angelica, and was soprano soloist for Bach’s Cantata 39. Other operatic credits include Countess in The Marriage of Figaro, Pamina in The Magic Flute, Micaela in Carmen, La Ciesca in Gianni Schicchi, Abigail Williams in The Crucible, and Donna Elvira in Don Giovanni. Read more at www.margaretfelice.com