JenSop: The Singing Traveler!

Idealist. Dreamer. Singer. Explorer.

Being a singer is hard work.

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I needed a stress relief break, so I thought I’d write a quick little blog post….

After having a discussion with one of my students yesterday about needing to really work to be a singer, I thought that it might be a good idea to share with the general public just all that’s involved into doing what we do.

I know we make it look so easy when we’re up on that stage, singing away.  But if everyone knew the sheer quantity of time and work that went into that lovely performance you are watching, I think most people would be shocked.

Take for example, the recital I’m in at the end of the month.  I’m performing all music that I’ve done before to make it a TAD bit easier.  But some of that music is older in my rep and needs to be freshened up a bit – which means practice.  Tedious, repetitive, boring practice.  I’m not going to pretend to be one of those musicians that enjoys practicing.  I kind of hate it.  I LOVE the end result.  But the process to get there is like a personal hell.  If you’re one of the musicians that loves practicing, more power to ya my friend.

Then there’s all the administrative stuff.  No one does this stuff for us.  I’m sitting here taking a break from putting together the actual recital program (you know, the paper program you get when you arrive at a performance) which includes translations.  My fellow singer already sent me his stuff.  Now I have to type it all up and incorporate it in with my stuff.  Yay translations.  Please don’t miss that strong sarcasm.  I mean for it to scream in your face.   But it’s an essential part of the process.

And then there’s singing the role of Adele in “Die Fledermaus” by Strauss.  I’ve been wanting to get this role in my rep for a long time, but getting a role learned is TONS of work.  I have all new music to learn AND memorize.  (I’ve sung Adele’s two arias previously, but in German.  We are doing an English version.)  Then there’s dialogue (spoken lines) to memorize.  And dances to memorize.  For this show, we have rehearsals three nights a week.  But all that learning and memorizing is done on our own time.  The rehearsals are where we put it all together.  Time, time, and more time.

I’ve also been knee deep in the pre-caroling season work.  We have lots of inquiries coming in and bookings being made. That’s a good thing!  From the other side though, we have rehearsals, we have more costumes to make, contracts to print, brochures that have been mailed, gigs to assign, logistics to plan.  Besides my mom making the costumes, all that other work is me.  Just little ol’ me.

Bear in mind, except for a very small percentage, singers in this country work other jobs to supplement their incomes.  Many teach lessons (myself included), many have server jobs at restaurants or have office jobs.  I went the retail route in addition to being a travel agent.

So the next time you see a musical performance, remember just how much work went into putting that show together for you.  That amazing singer you are watching might have just come from their office job before the show.  Or they were up late tending bar the night before.  Music is a calling and a passion for those of us who pursue it.  But as with all jobs, it has its non-fun moments all the time as well.

In the end, though, we live to feel the thrill of singing something wonderful, of bringing joy to the people who listen to us, of feeling connected to something bigger and beyond ourselves through the musical notes…. of taking those markings on the page and turning them into something glorious and magnificent.  We want to be the music that touches your soul and makes you feel emotions from sadness to excitement to pure happiness and joy.  That is why we do all the hard work; because hard work leads to amazing things.

On that note… back to work!

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Author: JenSop

One of my favorite quotes is, "If your dreams don't scare you, they're not big enough." I guess I've been a dreamer all my life - I set my sights high and then I try to reach the sky. Some might call me a naive idealist, but that's just the way I am. I believe in always taking the high road, I believe in true love, and I believe in treating people the way you want to be treated. If you put good out into the world, good will come back to you! Being the dreamer that I am, I pursued singing as my primary life's calling - I've got two degrees in classical voice under my belt, and I sing just about anything under the sun. I also love a good adventure. Over the past few years, I've done quite a bit of world traveling, and have even lived abroad for stretches at a time: mostly in Vienna (Austria) and Croatia. A few years ago, I was lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time, and I became a travel agent who specializes in Disney vacations. (Seriously, I KNOW Disney - I've been going regularly since I was a little girl - and I LOVE it!) And with all my experience traveling and living in Europe, I'm becoming quite the specialist in that travel category as well. (And last year, I started working as a Tour Director in Central Europe!) As to the other juicy details of my life - I'm originally from Pennsylvania, I'm married to an awesome Croatian man named Miloš who is the BEST adventure partner a girl could ask for. (He's also an expert on knowing how to make me smile.) He's truly the love of my life! I've also had all kinds of other jobs along the way, besides singer and travel pro. (Which is pretty standard for those of us who went to school for music.) I've worked part time weekends as a Disney Princess look-alike for children's parties. I've been teaching for almost 20 years, and have lots of experience in retail and customer service. Oh, and I should also probably mention that I'm a huge Lord of the Rings/Star Trek nerd! :-) Let's all go along for an adventure, shall we?

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