Robin Williams 1951-2014

RW2

We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race. And the human race is filled with passion. And medicine, law, business, engineering, these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are what we stay alive for.” – John Keating, Dead Poets Society (1989)

Rest in peace, Robin Williams.

Hiker sings opera to scare off mountain lion

Hiker sings opera to scare off mountain lion

Finally, she decided to try something different.

“I don’t know why, I just started singing opera really loud,” Koestonsky said. “It kind of put its ears down and just kept looking at me, and it sort of backed away. [...] “We’re glad this turned out to be nothing more than a frightening experience for the hiker,” Masters said in a press release.

And apparently a frightening experience for the lion.

The Met’s labour dispute: a symptom of a company in crisis

The Met’s labour dispute: a symptom of a company in crisis

Brilliant write-up by Jason Farago on the Metropolitan Opera and its ills:

“The sung story will last as long as humans do. Whether our current opera house model will survive will depend, I believe, on how successfully opera houses attract new artists to create work that speaks as eloquently to the traditions as to present-day audiences.” It’s an open question, however, whether the Met can do so. It certainly cannot while the stage door is padlocked.

Stuck between powerful unions and disrespected leadership, what’s a company with an annual $325 million budget to do?

Farago sums it up nicely: “If the Met’s audience is dying, that is the effect, not the cause, of its woes.”

A Silly Career Expense for Singers

OPERA America (a non-profit dedicated to serving the opera community in America) is pleased to announce a new expense…. I mean, program: Career Blueprints.

If you are a singer, soloist, or freelance musician, you have not even left the bench until you have:

  1. gorgeous headshots
  2. a studio recording
  3. a pipeline of feedback from (real-world working) casting and general directors
  4. a knock-out résumé and narrative biography
  5. a website that says “Damn, you’re good at what you do.”
  6. an ever-increasing skill set when it comes to personal branding, audition techniques, and a deep understanding of the crazy, changing business that is professional music.

So this is exactly what the CAREER BLUEPRINTS FOR SINGERS program offers: all 6 of those items, in one fat $700+ bundle! Experts will massage your career materials into a firm foundation, compelling and attractive to future employers. How marvelous, that in one place, at one time, and in one swoop, you can emerge with the engine built to power your Career Rocket!

This program is exciting!

You do not need it.

If today were 1980, it would be invaluable. Today, however, you have the internet.

When I was 14, I accidentally started my first business

One afternoon, my friend Richard asked me if I could create a new website for his friend’s business. At the time, I knew about 10 lines of code. But I said yes anyways. We set a day to discuss the project over dinner, 5 days away. Every day, for 5 days, I turned to Google (which was a young startup at the time!). I searched for hours and hours on everything I could get my hands on: website design, coding, contracts, negotiation… When I finally met Richard and his friend over steak and potatoes, I negotiated a 6 month contract. But at the time: I had no clue how to actually make a website.

I spent 3 months learning how to design and code websites, and another 3 months actually making the website. The site launched to rave reviews, a host of referral contracts, and an 11 year run as the face of their company.

All because I was too stupid to know my limits!

You don’t know how to get great headshots, to create a compelling website, to write an incredible cover letter, to get feedback. The truth: this is between you, your determination, and the search bar! The internet is a fountain spewing more knowledge than you could hope to absorb in 1,000 lifetimes! Do you need to pay $700 for knowledge and consulting? Sometimes, absolutely! In this case? Unequivocally no.

There are six aspects to the OPERA America CAREER BLUEPRINT program. My advice? Set aside 6 days and do it yourself: how about August 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6? Invest 2 hours each day researching and learning everything you can about one of those topics. On August 7, set future dates within the month of August when you will execute on each those goals.

Hard? No. Difficult to turn off Facebook, follow through, and do the work? Yes.

I support OPERA America, without reserve. We need them. But more than any program or company, I support you, the individual artist. You must learn to support yourself whenever possible.

You don’t need to spend $700, plus flight and a hotel, for skills waiting to be picked up on the internet. Everything offered in this OPERA America program is taught be world class experts. For free. On the internet.

It often pays to be too stupid to know your own limits. Get a little stupid. Get online. Get learning.

Sing. Eat. Repeat.

Sing. Eat. Repeat. It’s a simple life philosophy, born from past experience. The world of professional music is an upside down, bizarre ride. But it is possible to rise out of the primordial vibrato, strong and certain of your purpose. Let’s make something beautiful today and every day, because there can never be enough beauty in our world. So sing and eat, dance and drink, laugh and talk.

Let’s talk about why art matters more in a world at war, on how to learn from others’ mistakes, on our relationship with material things, on igniting a culture of living art in a consumerist culture, on the importance of barriers for the artist. But not only that: let’s talk about wine and whiskey, homemade chocolate chip pistachio cookies, Five Guys bacon cheeseburgers with grilled jalapeños, coffee roasting and brewing methods, and the immutable greatness of the martini.

Virginia Zeani says, “To sing is to thank God you are alive.”

I say, “To sing, followed by a heart stopping Five Guys bacon-burger and a bottle of carmenere red, is to thank God twice.”