You need something to fall back on….

There’s a phrase I have always hated. “Something to fall back on.” As if what you’re doing with your life is unreliable, frivolous, unimportant, and worst of all, something that you’re really not that good at so don’t even bother to pursue it, no matter now passionate you feel about it.

But I’ve given that phrase a bit of thought this last week. I attended Lynn Eustis’ sessions at the NATS conference on Mental Health and the Singer. Lynn is on the faculty at University of North Texas and is the author or a book called The Singer’s Ego. She is writing a follow-up book called The Teacher’s Ego, which I will be ordering when it comes out. Her sessions were largely discussions between her and the attendees about why singers are as crazy as they are. A singer’s instrument is so personal. If three singers get up and sing “Caro nome” and each sings it with the same technical ability – hits all the right notes at the right times and with the right diction – and with the same amount of emotional investment (see previous blog entry on honesty), they will still all sound different. And someone is not going to like one of them for whatever reason, valid or not. It is hard to separate someone not liking your voice from someone not liking you. No wonder singers are neurotic.

If you as a singer invest yourself so fully in your craft and artistry to the detriment of your other interests, you are not a well-rounded person and you do not having something to “fall back on.” Not in case singing doesn’t work out for you. But in your life. Knowing what is going on in the world, participating in things that aren’t necessarily about networking and auditioning, having fun, being interesting.

I’m guilty of this. My husband was really into Showtime’s The Tudors while it was on, and we were talking about Catherine Howard’s final words at her execution, and I quoted them to him. Now, he is very interested in all things Renaissance and has read many well-researched books on the subject and he looked at me and said, “How do you know that?” and I said, “It’s the final page of Libby Larsen’s song cycle, Try me, good King.” He laughed and said “Everything you know is because of a piece of music.”

Lots of things are hitting me lately, and that was one of them. My life is not balanced. I’m probably 90/10 about the music. I can’t guarantee that I’ll make the switch to 50/50 or even 60/40, but if I could get 65/35, I think I could live with that.

Published by Mezzoid Voice Studio

Christine Thomas-O'Meally, a mezzo soprano and voice teacher currently based in the Baltimore-DC area, has performed everything from the motets of J.S. Bach to the melodies of Irving Berlin to the minimalism of Philip Glass. As an opera singer and actress, she has appeared with companies such as Charm City Players, Spotlighters Theatre, Chicago Opera Theater, Opera Theater of Northern Virginia, Opera North, the Washington Savoyards, In Tandem Theatre, Windfall Theater, The Young Victorian Theater of Baltimore, and Skylight Opera Theatre. She created the role of The Woman in Red in Dominick Argento’s Dream of Valentino in its world premiere with the Washington Opera and Mary Pickersgill in O'er the Ramparts at its world premiere during the Bicentennial of Battle of Baltimore at the Community College of Baltimore County. Other roles include Mrs. Paroo in Music Man, Mother Abbess in Sound of Music, Dorabella in Cosi Fan Tutte, Marcellina in Le Nozze di Figaro, both Hansel and the Witch in Hansel & Gretel, and many roles in Gilbert & Sullivan operettas. Her performance as the Housekeeper in Man of La Mancha was honored with a WATCH award nomination. Ms. Thomas-O'Meally received an M.M. in vocal performance from the Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore. She regularly attends master classes and workshops in both performance and vocal pedagogy, and is certified in all three Levels of Somatic Voicework™ The LoVetri Method. Her students have performed on national and international tours of Broadway productions, at prestigious conservatories, and in regional theater throughout the country.

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