Monday, September 28, 2009

Get Your Left Brain Ready

Inspirational pep talks and creative problem-solving on the shelf for the next few days. Get your left brain in gear, and let's tackle:

The Preparation of Things (Audition Mini-Course Week 3)

  • Monday - Résumé
  • Tuesday - Headshot
  • Wednesday - Aria Notebook
  • Thursday - Clothes
  • Expert Friday - We hear from Darren Keith Woods of Fort Worth Opera and Seagle Music Colony.

Your Résumé

We care about this on two levels - one functional (format), and the other less tangible (professionalism/accuracy).


We need to be able to find information fast. If something is buried or not represented cleanly, I may miss it entirely or misinterpret it.

  • Color: Dark/black only. If your résumé gets printed or photocopied, the sexy light lavender text disappears.
  • Font: I don't really care about sans serif etc, but don't get too creative. Save the faux cursive fonts for personal correspondence.
  • Columns: Please please use columns! In addition to reading the information horizontally, it's extraordinarily useful to scan vertically for companies, roles, etc. Putting the role/opera/company/date in an unbroken line of text is most emphatically not a good idea.
  • Abbreviations: When you list the venue/organization for a role you've performed, please don't write "Opera Theatre." It may be apparent to you which Opera Theatre you mean, but it's terribly confusing for us until we match it up with the name of your conservatory, etc. Find a better way to abbreviate so that it fits in the column.
  • Order: Most recent things first within categories. Put performances, degrees, etc in reverse chronological order.
  • Photo: The presence of a thumbnail photo on the résumé itself is fairly new - we've only been seeing it a lot recently, since it has become easier to include a small sharp-resolution image. Personally, I like it. Not enough to urge everyone to do it, but enough to appreciate it when it's there. I'm sure someone out there disagrees, but I haven't heard from any detractors yet.
  • Length: Resist the urge to tell us everything you've ever done. One page please. A 3-page resumé is hardly ever to your advantage. If you desire to be inclusive, get a website and put everything there. (Oh, and while we're on the topic, get a website as soon as you can. Manage your online identity. This isn't really an audition-specific topic, but an increasingly important one. Will try to remember to discuss on the blog this winter.)


  • Roles/Operas/Arias: We want you to sing well, first and foremost. You’re not applying to be a writer, editor, or any other sort of wordsmith. If you don’t know how to spell the name of the role you performed or the opera it occurred in, it’s not unreasonable for us to wonder about the level of care with which you prepared the important details of that role. So please please please ask a handful of people – professors, teachers, coaches, highly literate friends – to proofread your paperwork. Spelling may not be your thing, and if you sing well enough, eventually I won't care. Indeed, if a company hires you to sing, they won’t ask you to edit copy. But you don't want your first impression to be diluted by messiness.
  • People: Look up the names of coaches, directors, conductors, institutions. My name ends up misspelled on résumés with alarming frequency. If your contact with me wasn't long or detailed enough for you to figure out how to spell my name, it begs the question as to how much impact I could've had on your development.
  • References: When you list mentors and colleagues who might be able to attest to your work, please be sure that those folks will remember you. If you worked once with someone in a master class, chances are s/he might not be able to speak eloquently on your behalf.

On the Other Hand...

Some singers are so busy being their own publicists that they forget that their main task is to learn to sing. When you're just too tired or frustrated to deal with one more practice session, I know it's far easier to tweak the fonts on your résumé, write glowing prose for your bio, or photoshop your latest production shots for your website. These things are important and useful, but they don't take the place of those long hours in the practice room or with a score. Don't spend an inordinate amount of time polishing your image instead of your singing.

Back tomorrow, with a brief discussion of headshots.

1 comment:

Darren K Woods said...

Kim: Thanks for doing this. During audition season, I read your blog daily and so should most singers! Looking forward to following you around the country this season via the net.