Exploration Plus Exploitation

exploration PLUS exploitation

The other day, I wrote a blogpost about approaching auditions as an opportunity for exploration.

And then yesterday, I read an article about people who have been recognized for having tremendous bursts of creativity in their lives. In that article, the author cited a study that boiled down the origin of these successes to three words.

Explore, then exploit

— Dashun Wang, Northwestern University

I get explore, but exploit – and exploitation – has become such a negative word these days. How can it be something that we can use in a positive way?

The definition of exploitation is to use something or someone for profit. But it’s not the primary definition.

As a noun, an exploit is:

Full Definition of exploit (Entry 1 of 2)


especially : a notable, memorable, or heroic act


I’m kind of digging the whole heroic part of that definition.

The epitome of a heroic exploit!

And as a verb, to exploit means:

to make productive use of UTILIZE


Exploitation occurs when someone else is taken advantage of in order for you to profit. Sweatshop workers, migrant farmers, anyone not being paid what they are worth by people who could afford to do so. (My late mother used to clean and perform what were basically nurse’s aide tasks for a retired judge and his wife for $2.00 hour and was on call day and night in case “Mr. X has to go potty.” Yep, she was exploited.)

Explore the possibilities. Gather all the information you can about what interests you and try different things. Do you want to sing or teach musical theater? Classical? Pop? What can you take from one field of study to apply to another?

The Atlantic article (linked above) cites David Epstein’s book, Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World, as coming to point that “people are better off exploring a variety of fields and approaches and braiding their knowledge to produce new solutions.”

I have spent much of the pandemic studying a variety of topics: Alexander Technique, Breaking down the riffs with Natalie Weiss (still in progress), marketing and branding, working on chest mix (still in progress), and a few other things. I like input and ideation – they’re two of my top five Clifton Strengths.

Implementation and execution are not in my top five. Or ten. Or twenty. This is what I need to work on – to exploit those skills at the right time in order to implement and execute the projects I want to put out into the world.

What have you been exploring and how will you exploit the skills you have gained in those explorations? Tell me about it in the comments – I’d love to have a discussion!

exploration PLUS exploitation
I get exploration, but how can exploitation be a good thing?

Are you looking to explore elements of vocal technique and performance and figure out how best to create your own heroic exploits? Contact Mezzoid Voice Studio to set up a Vocal Discovery Session (maybe I should call that Vocal Explorations instead) and become your own hero (instead of holding out for one).

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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