Your Personal Brand – “Upping the Ante”
"I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel." - Maya Angelou
Want to “up the ante” for building your personal brand? Do you ever notice another performer’s personal brand and if so, what do you notice about how and why it is noticeable. Most professionals who are good at what they do have a lot of traits that most people miss.
Let’s start with this: most smart professionals think of what they do as a business, which means it’s just a job, it isn’t personal or emotional. This means they have an adaptable plan of action in place, so they can continually make the best decisions for moving forward on their career paths. They are interested in delivering a great product and services that will make those that hired them or would like to hire them look important in the public’s eyes. That means a solid vocal technique and great storytelling abilities. Someone who is consistent in their work ethics, acts professionally at all times, self-manages the delivery of their product responsibly within the available time frame and budget by being thoroughly prepared before they show up, are flexible and accommodating when necessary, and understand that to the company they are working for, time is money. And again, they are very interested in doing their best to deliver a product that will help the success of said company.
How can you, the artist, create an incentive to be rehired? A professional singer is interested in building trust between management and themselves. While there is no one way, path or method that works for everyone, I’ve already mentioned the key behavioral ingredients. It’s up to you to find what works for you as you move into this world of opera. Keep in mind those that do the hiring are always asking the question, “What’s in it for us as a company?” Even before they contract you they ask themselves, “Will this person add value to our company.” Plus during the production recap, they again ask, “Did this person add value to our company?”, thus closing the circle of, “What’s in it for us?”
It’s about creating a personalized system that can respond to change in a way that builds a solid foundation and structure for you to realize your goals and needs. You have to respect and trust yourself to get to where you want to be. Mistakes and failures are going to be in the mix so expect them. They stay failures or mistakes ONLY if you don’t take the time to find the lesson within each one as you polish and apply what you have learned going forward.
All of the above help in the construction of your personal brand. It makes you stronger and more confident. And remember, that no matter how prepared you are, not everyone is going to like or agree with you or appreciate you or your talent. But that is life and the quicker you realize that, “what you think of me if none of my business”, the more you can let go of trying to please others and you will find you can truly and happily be yourself which is your personal brand. It is a lifelong journey that requires preparation, improvement and practice. Reaching the goal is not half as much fun or satisfying as the journey. So avanti and ciao until next time. Carol
Audition and Performance Anxiety
"Too many of us are not living our dreams because we are living our fears." - Les Brown
Audition and performance anxiety is an evolutionary throwback — one that can be directly tied to our more primal neurological heritage; it’s called fight or flight. This fear that is elicited by stage fright ignites the body's fight-or-flight response, which is what brings about its various physical and physiological manifestations. Essentially, it's the perceived sense of danger that sets off kinds of internal bells and whistles in preparation for something that arguably never happens. This kind of response is completely disproportionate, and can be seen as a kind of false alarm. And needless to say, the physical and psychological experience of all this, is extremely unpleasant. Experiencing audition and performance anxiety, it's fair to say, is not fun.
Many very famous artists like Pavarotti, Barbara Streisand and Rene Fleming and even great athletes suffer from performance anxiety. For those that have audition or performance anxiety, it can be worse than most common fears like flying, forgetting your music, loosing luggage, losing your phone, etc. It’s possible to even become physically ill before you actually audition or perform. This complex fear extends beyond the pressure to perform in the moment. It’s the vulnerability of exposing oneself to be judged by a panel of adjudicators or an audience, that sets off an entire cascade of physiological processes when you simply think about it, that include dry mouth, butterflies in the stomach, a pounding heart, shaking, sweaty hands, throwing up and diarrhea.
Those of you who are at the effect of this condition often start to experience its effects days or weeks in advance. Psychologists, who work with patients on this condition, describe how your inner chatter tends to focus on those things that could go wrong during the performance and in the immediate aftermath of a potential failure, which allows your imagination to build a solid story about how, when and why things will go wrong. It's the lead-up to an audition or performance that get’s your mind off track. Your thoughts become irrational and absurd, and most times you know it but can’t seem to stop them. These are exaggerated fears taken completely out of context.
And in fact, studies have shown that this exaggerated anxiety and fear of failure in an audition or performance can be driven by any number of traits. See if you find one that fits: want everyone to like and admire you, what to be a star in their eyes, desire control, fear of failure and success, and an intense anxiety about not being able to perform properly when the time comes (which can if you’re not careful, serve as a self-fulfilling prophecy).
During an audition or performance you may be trying to second guess or “mind read” what those listening are scrutinizing. Consequently, you turn your focus onto yourself and interpret the audience's attention as a perceived threat. And once the fear sets in, that's when you begin a downward spiral during which you’re perpetually on the lookout for anything that would reinforce your fears. You start to think pessimistic thoughts and presume that others are naturally critical and that a negative evaluation is likely, when in reality, your mind should be focused on doing your JOB. And your job is to tell your characters story through the sound of your voice and acting skills, while you take your audience on a magical journey! That’s what they paid for and desperately want. They want you to use your skills and tools, to take them away from their everyday life.
What is the best way to get a handle on this? First of all, you have to want to get out of this emotional rut. You have to want to create new habits that need to be reinforced every day to become the “go to” response. Finding the right method for you to get a handle on this will include some trial and error and lots of research. I find that most times it’s the “Brat”, you know that internal voice that talks you in a not so nice way at the most inappropriate times. I have a method to deal with this “Brat” in my book Aria Ready, The Business of Singing. Or you might want to consider a therapist, who can perhaps help you tackle the psychological and emotional underpinnings of your anxiety; things that might include learning to recognize irrational and unfounded beliefs, help with your ability to stop revisiting a recent negative experience, which can trigger the fear. You can also learn how not to obsess over the fear of negative consequences. Simply talking it out with a therapist has also been shown to be effective. There is also hypnosis, meditation and visualization, which are all very effective.
So… with all this said, let’s concede a couple of things. First, those who have this anxiety shouldn't feel that they have to get over it. Sometimes it's just simply not worth it. But for every one of you with audition and performance anxiety who wants to move on and have it under control, you need to consider just how important it is for you to deal with the effects of this crippling, emotional ride. You have to decide just how much you want to perform, do it well and be able to enjoy it. Performing as a professional is not for the faint of heart. It’s a job with all the ups and downs just like any other. It’s not glamorous but if you have the talent, and want to get involved, then do it! Avanti! Ciao, Carol
Hidden Rules of the Professional World of Performance
"A gem cannot be polished without friction, nor a man perfected without trials." - Seneca
How do you prepare to be “part of the process” when you are hired to do a role? It is just a job after all, not a popularity contest or a stage for a pity party when things go wrong. Going to do a job, means you are thoroughly prepared in every aspect of your mind, body and spirit. The better you know how you tick, what your self-sabotage triggers are and how to handle them, how to deal with others in a professional manner if they want to intimidate or bully you even if it is the conductor or stage director, plus how to handle any subtle or even aggressive unwanted physical attention from others, is of paramount importance. You have to go prepared by having some already worked out dialogue for supporting your position that is not just a reaction but you taking action on your behalf in a way that lets others know where you stand without it becoming emotional or personal.
So, know that doing your job is not just about singing beautifully. Certainly, it is part of the package, but knowing how to handle yourself in differing circumstances and venues is also very important. Your job is to put butts in seats, go to the gig knowing your music, words, character and having that all down cold, plus winning the hearts and minds of not only the audience, but your colleagues, the staff, and those who hired you to perform and to help them sell their product.
You need to stay out of any company politics, and get along with everyone. Doesn't that sound like a job in and of itself? You bet, but that is also being a professional no matter what business you are in. It’s never personal or emotional. It’s about you doing your job to the best of your ability, right this minute, right now, right where you are vocally as you tell your story through your character. Sure you will make mistakes and occasionally even fall of the horse, but you need to have the self assurance and confidence in your own brand to get right back on and continue to do your job.
Know that the first few times you do a new role or do your first professional jobs, you will have doubts and insecurities. We have all been there and done that; you are not the lone ranger here. But remember, those that get rehired are the ones that work at creating and maintaining strong professional relationships, are great colleagues, and work to help build a powerful performance that brings success not only to you, but to the company you are working for.
So spend some time working with your inner “Brat”, that voice that talks to you in your head usually in a not so nice tone, and any family, friend or foe issues so you can continue to grow your brand as you move forward. It’s just a job, but it’s your job, so do it well!!
Avanti and ciao until next time. Carol
The world of opera and classical singing has given me over 45 years of living the dream—world travel, meeting and working with some of the most famous singers, conductors and stage directors of yesterday, today and tomorrow. It’s been a successful and very satisfying journey for me.
Success means something different to everyone…..so let me ask you, what does success mean to you? It is different for everyone. Most people are afraid of both success and failure. What are you afraid of and why? Once you know the reality of what a singing career demands, are you still interested in pursuing this dream and why? And last but not least, how is your current career plan working out for you? Need some help? You’ve come to the right spot.
Here are my four key cornerstones, the necessary foundation upon which to build and support your career:
- First and foremost, having a solid and consistently dependable vocal technique.
- Knowing who you are, from the inside out.
- Having a destination and a solid plan to get there.
- Maintaining personal accountability in all areas of your life.
Let me help you review where you are in your career, confirm what you already have in place and honestly works well for you. Together we can define any areas that might need some adjusting. Let’s set up a plan to make your career foundation whole and solid knowing there is no progress without change.
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Check out the completely revised and updated 2nd edition of my book, “Aria Ready, The Business of Singing”. There are many books out there about singing and many books out there about business, but this is the only one available that explains the Personal & Business Aspects of building a singing career. I not only tell you what to do, but how to do it by giving you the tools and skills to create your very own personalized path to successful career building. It’s a great resource and reminder of how to do what needs to be done. To have an achievable purpose, creates motivation to get you where you want to go, even if and when you stumble and fall or just don’t have the vision for a while. You will be able to actually go into the book to read some of the materials to see if this might be a good resource for you.
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