Ariella's Vocal Notes- Blog

Taking care of yourself as a singer sometimes means making hard choices for yourself- that people may not always like.

By Ariella Vaccarino creator of Voice Lessons To Go

August 20th, 2014


There are a lot of pressures put on singers. We have a lot of “dues” to pay out while we are trying to make it. Sometimes it is hard to know which things we must do and when to say NO, but it is part of growing up and taking care of yourself.

It is great to take guidance from your teachers and coaches on these things, but bottom line is you will have to be the one who figures out what you can and can not do to keep yourself in the game and at your peak. Whether those around you agree or not.

In college, (I went to USC as a vocal major), I was focused on studying opera. Which is really solo singing. That was my dream. I wanted to be a professional opera singer. To be a vocal arts major though, no matter what your genre was, you needed to fulfill the requirements of singing a certain amount of semesters in a choir.

I had not been much of a choir singer since I was interested in more solo, stage performance for myself. Well, I was in a choir there that was excellent. The director was great, the music was fantastic and it really helped to develop my musicianship which as a soloist tends to be lacking a bit compared to a singer. I was lucky because my director had begun choosing me for the important solos which was great. For example; I was the soprano in Carmina Burana and got to do some fabulous performances with the choir and orchestra.

But I was not just the soloist, I also had to sing in the choir. This was a commitment of a few days a week of hard-core singing. And the music was very hard and high, and demanding. All would have been good except I was also singing in many other classes that were important for my future. Opera ensemble, voice lessons, performances on weekends for things, and I was an opera singing waitress at that time to make money (that is a blog for another time).

My voice was tired. Very tired. Singing on a tired voice can create terrible vocal problems. Also, I was using my voice up during the day for all these things so by the time I went out for important a auditions and performances I was not at my best. Often I silently practiced for my big auditions rather than sang out, so as to save my instrument.

I had to make a hard choice. I decided to quit the choir. I had filled my requirement and was not choosing to continue. I would have received more big opportunities with them, but on the grand scheme of things, I needed my voice fresh for other opportunities that could take me beyond the university confines to follow my dream.

I went in to speak to the director frankly. Until this point he had showed me a lot of respect. The minute I kindly explained my decision and why, he turned on me. Meanly. He told me I would never amount to anything because I was a quitter. This was the same man who introduced me to his wife at an event previously as a “future star”.

This was a very sad, hard moment for me. I realized that life ahead would be really tough as a singer. I needed to rest my voice and knew it was the right decision. Leaving a trail of hate from this man behind me was not ideal- whether it was rationanal or not. It is how bad rumors begin about you as an artist, why people start calling you a Diva, even when you are desperately trying to make the smart choices for yourself.

It behoves people to exploit what they need from you as a singer. They are often not considering what is best for your whole picture. Only you can do that. (Or maybe your mom).

So, know, that things for you as a singer will never be perfect. But you have to know who you are and what you need. Only you will really know. You never know when someone of influence will turn on you in this business. You must stick to what you need and stand proud.

Sing well!

Ariella Vaccarino


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