Chicago: The No Caffeine Zone

We’ve settled into a new audition space in Chicago for 2 days. The management at Classical Symphony Hall is taking very good care of us, and we appreciate being able to listen to voices in a space that doesn’t fight against us. The acoustic isn’t luxuriously live, but the ceilings are high, and the sound is true. The singers don’t seem to mind it, and it’s easy to listen.

The only problem is that there’s absolutely no food or drink (except water) allowed in the space. And listening to 40 auditions a day (as we did today) without access to coffee is a bit of a stretch. Yes, I’m chemically dependent on caffeine. But the best part was that when I posted the coffee-free-audition-room as my Facebook status update, I received a flurry of comments, the volume of which is normally reserved for announcements of the birth of children and landmark birthdays: 35 comments so far, including:

  • That just isn’t right.
  • A crime against God and nature.
  • NOOO!
  • Gasp!
  • Maybe you can beam it in and use a Tarnhelm.
  • No coffee? Is that legal? NOT right!
  • Oh, wow. Just imagine me trying to deal with this. I am getting worked up just thinking about it
  • NO COFFEE?!?! how is that legal?!
  • OMG somebody break in there and help that woman!
  • Clearly, I’m not the only one with an addiction.

Close Your Eyes, Change Your Brain

Now might be a good time to mention why I close my eyes. I’m not sleeping. (Go ahead, link through; it’s a short article.)

Although I’m not a highly visual person, I seem to identify so closely with singers while I’m watching them that I have a hard time turning off my inner cheerleader/coach. (“Come on now… Breathe… Stick with the phrase… You can do it…”) I’ve found that if I close my eyes, I can absorb what I hear far more clearly and thoroughly.

Of course, it’s a technique to use sparingly, for part of the singer’s allure is visual, and I certainly want to experience the visual nuances of the performance. But true to the research, the amygdala (of which I’ve nerdily written once before) is an amazingly strong barometer of emotional impact of an experience. My left brain is so busy shuffling resumes, looking at rep lists, and documenting the audition that I need a quick way to hook back into the non-clinical aspects of the moment. And closing my eyes is just the ticket.


Elizabeth McDonald

I agree with your "eyes closed" bit….I am a highly visual person and know when I'm teaching that sometimes what I see can inform me to give the wrong direction. Alas, one also has to see what the student is doing with their ___ (fill in the blank here!).

Thanks for re-affirming my suspicions!

Jessica Diana Salley

Have you ever tried caffeinated water? It's not coffee but when you're in a location that only allows water and you need a fix it's an acceptable option. A friend of mine used to drink it all the time so he could stay up at night playing video games. :)

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