Open Studio Day 2: Hit Us With Your Best Shot

There’s probably absolutely nothing new I could post here on the subject of auditioning. Four years of audition tour blogging has pretty much tapped out the topic. As I was considering the prospect of reigning over an Open Studio audition class this morning, it felt as if I had absolutely nothing to say. I haven’t been in the audition groove since last winter, and the just the idea of thinking about it made me tired. But then the singing started, and it all felt familiar. Just like riding a bike, I guess.

It helped that these young singers are really so very musical, intuitive, smart, and gifted with naturally healthy, beautiful instruments. We’ve been preparing to say goodbye to these 16, getting their comments about their Wolf Trap summer, and trying to help however we can with next steps. One of those steps is making sure they put their best foot forward every time they step into the audition room.

I only had a chance to hear 6 of them today, and there’s never enough time to really cover everything. It’s made a little tougher by the fact that there is an invited audience (hence the term Open Studio), and some conversations are only effective when they’re private. But these folks are amazingly sanguine about all of the wide-ranging advice they’re receiving at this part of their developing careers.

I was talking a few days ago to one of our Filene Young Artists, and she mentioned an image that she’s found useful when trying to describe what it takes to be an effective and honest performing artist: You must have the biggest, warmest, softest heart imaginable; then you must put it in a strong steel cage.

Without heart, artists become entertaining musical acrobats. Without the cage, your heart can be eaten alive before you know it.

I’m impressed by these Studio Artists’ willingness to continually seek feedback, criticism, and suggestions – while fighting off the human tendency toward self-protection and defensiveness. We who don’t daily put ourselves up there on the stage as an easy target for everyone’s opinions and preferences should pay heed.

Photos by Eric Melear

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