Seagle Date Is Set

Announcements, Seminars

Directly after my trip back through the Voice Program at the Chautauqua Institution, I am excited to announce that I will give seminars at the Seagle Music Colony Young Artists Program in the Adirondacks in upstate New York.

The program selects 32 highly-talented young artists to sing in six fully-staged productions. They will be very busy to be sure, but the leaderships is committed to giving their singers a well-rounded experience featuring many masterclasses and workshops. I am excited to be a part of it.

I will announced more news about my East coast swing shortly!

A Hike And A Seminar


We started the day today as these fine singers start most of their days in this beautiful setting — with a little exercise. This is a supremely gorgeous location up at 9,400 feet. The surrounding peaks rise up to 13,000 feet, creating a cozy valley. It was inspiring to see a group of singers wipe the sleep from their eyes while we gathered early in the morning, and then be transformed into a vibrant cohesive group as we reached our destination.

I brought my GPS running watch along on the hike and have these fun charts to show for it. I suppose a GPS watch is not too different than Velvet Singer. The watch doesn’t run for you, it just makes running more fun and then shows you some cool data afterward. I like wearing it on a long run because it feels like I have an audience — maybe not a live audience, but I know I’ll at least show my wife my stats when I get home. It is a small thing, but that feeling of having an audience can sometimes help me make that extra push to go farther faster.

Co-founders Linda Poetschke and Mary Jane Johnson have created a real gem in the Taos Opera Institute. They welcomed me with a warm smile and have a great setup for our session this afternoon. Dana Brown and Matthew Chellis from Roosevelt University led the hike this morning (and are now co-teaching a very talented young tenor in the next room).

This program does a fantastic job at helping young singers “bridge the gap between academia and apprenticeships” focusing on body, mind, and spirit. The singers I met this morning are jazzed up and feeling ready for tonight’s final dress rehearsal / feedback session.


DePaul Breakthrough


This latest seminar at DePaul was complete breakthrough. I don’t know exactly why, perhaps it was the compressed time frame or the opera rehearsal to follow or the pressures of the academic season, but each of these students brought such an earnest and heart-felt contribution to this discussion. I have to call it a breakthrough!

I was very glad to have Rob Krueger, the Associate Dean for Administration stop by the seminar. I had met Rob originally while I was a student at DePaul a few years ago. Then I was able to reconnect with him at the NETMCDO Conference in NYC last month. He and his team provide a very supportive environment for students. Their goal is similar to mine — to help students take that ever-challenging jump into a fulfilling, stable and lucrative professional life.

We followed a compressed version of the organizational seminar, and began introducing elements from the new electronic workbook. I learned a bit more about how to facilitate a computer-focused discussion.

For one thing, I believe my future seminar attendees should download and install the e-workbook before the seminar. This can save us a lot of time. I typically like to customize and tweak the workbook right up until the seminar, so I will have to get more disciplined about making changes, but I think this is the direction to pursue in the future.

It could be that singers will even complete a section or two of the workbook on their own before the seminar, then we can begin the discussion by focusing on the results, rather than the process. It could be that I develop a two-part e-workbook in the future — part one is due to be submitted before the seminar starts, it is a pre-requisite. Then we will take part-two as a group, which will help us analyze, process and synthesize. I’m liking it.

Thank you Jane Bunnell, thank you Rob, and thank you to the dedicated and sincere students at my alma mater, DePaul University. Go Blue Demons!

E-Workbook is Here — v2.9.2

Features, Releases

We have been holding on to this release for quite some time, trying out the new E-Workbook in seminars throughout the country. Tweaking, building and refining what we think is an excellent add-on to Velvet Singer.

After automatically downloading the newest update, v2.9.2, you can open up the Workbook add-on from the Main Menu.

This is an entirely separate file (the first add-on that we have released) and it is a very feature rich application of its own. We may even begin to sell it as a separate product. For our current customers? Free!

From the E-Workbook menu, you can open up the workbook for either of our Seminars:

– Seminar A: Organization / Goal Setting
– Seminar B: Business Plan

There is tons of information and TLC poured into both, but we think the Business Plan workbook functions really well as a stand-alone application.

The Bottom Line: Persuasion and Communication

The Workbooks walk you through everything you need to know, helping you generate rich and persuasive prose. For example, rather than trying to describe your values from scratch, you can first pick from a list of 39 common values.

E-mail Reports

From the Business Plan menu you can generate two types of reports, opening them in your web browser to print or preparing an HTML email to your family, friends, teachers and supporters. You can also Resume your workbook from the last page you edited, Backup your data, Submit your data to our compilation project or Clear all of your previous responses.

The E-Mail report allows you to send a beautiful and colorful HTML report directly from the system with no setup required.

Customize your message to request feedback and direction, or make an appeal for direct financial report. The more you involve your stakeholders, the more they will support you.

Business Plans

Your business plan will arrive with professional and colorful styling. It will contain copious amounts of valuable information, yet it will also be well organized and readable.

Velvet Singer business plans contain the following information:

  • Executive summary
  • Mission
  • Vision
  • Values
  • Current approach
  • Entrepreneurship strengths / weaknesses
  • Product strengths / weaknesses
  • Positioning / branding
  • Ambitions
  • Financial outlook
  • Risks analysis
  • Strategy
  • Five year plan
  • Priorities
  • To do list

Trends Module

Rebuilt and optimized to show you only the best information without any setup required on your part, the trends module is completely prefabricated and ready-made. Simply navigate to the Trends module from the main menu, and the system will compile your data. Click around, learn and share.

From each Trend record, you can see composite information describing your progress. For example, this singer has been doing about coachings per month.

View your profitability over the years or show the same data broken out into months. You can also drill down into income or expenses.

Trend reports gather high level data so you can analyze them together or share them with your professional contacts.

Resume Tips, Techniques and Templates


Download our Resume Template DOC and I will reply with some feedback, totally for free! Take it or leave it. No conditions or expectations for follow-up whatsoever.

Think of that! You are just about five or six clicks away from gaining insights into how you can improve your formatting, style, look and branding and how you can improve the overall messaging and positioning of who you are and where you would like to go.

I absolutely love connecting with singers in this way. Resumes can reveal a lot about people and are often the source of great stress. Therefore they represent a large opportunity for setting a new course. Let Velvet Singer take out some of the stress.


Resume Template

Download these Velvet Singer resume template files and you can see first-hand a very simple, clear and straight-forward way of presenting yourself.


Notice that I named the files the name and fach of the performer, “James Testdata Baritone.” You should always do the same when you email your resume. Think of the computer that it will wind up on — if your file is called “Opera Resume” or something generic like that, it may get be harder for your recipient to keep organized.

One Page, One Page, One Page

Your resume can only be one page long. Yo-Yo Ma’s resume is only one page long, Jack Bauer’s resume is only one page long, Ghandi’s resume was only one page long.

If you want to list repertoire that you know, a bio or other supporting material, those can become separate documents. Use the exact same header: giant name, large fach, photo and contact information.

Name The File Your Name

Name your files with the name and fach of the performer. This is your brand, your handle, your marquee. Coke wouldn’t email out an add campaign that was labeled “Ad Campaign” — it would say “Coca-Cola,” right?

Email PDFs not Word DOCs

Portable Document Format is the only way to email attachments. PDFs render essentially the same on any computer. If you email a Word DOC, then your resume may come out completely garbled. Ask anyone who listens to auditions — a good percentage of resumes they are looking at are junked up by computer printing / formatting. Margins are off, words wrap wrong, gaps are no longer.

For more information on how to Print to PDF, read my blog post here.

Middle Names: Only If You Really Need It

Do some thinking about whether your brand name should include your middle name. Shorter is better 90% of the time.

Rule of Thumb: If you do not list your middle name or initial in a concert program, then consider leaving it off of your resume.

If you have a very generic name (Jim Johnson) or a name that is similar to someone famous (Bard Simpson) then I can see the logic to consistently branding with your middle name. It needs to be unique. But if your first and last names are very unique (Naphtali O’Reilly) then we don’t need the extra clarification.

Last point: your name on your resume does not need to be exactly what is on your driver’s license. A resume is essentially an advertising piece, not a government form.

Name Size: As Big As Your Ego Can Stand

Seriously, bigger. It is your brand. Look at a Coke ad driving down the highway. COKE! Most people that hear you are driving down a proverbial highway of stress and deadlines and schedules. Make it easy on them.

Your name should take up about two thirds of the width of the page, and your fach should be likewise. I used Times New Roman size 54 in my mockup for James Testdata.

White Space = Your Friend

If you want something to look good, add more white space. Don’t be shy if you feel you have too few things to list on your resume. That probably just means that your resume can end up looking really slick. Space things out, add white space. It will look professional and well put together and that tells the panel what they really need to know about you: are you going to work hard, be a good colleague and present things well. Experience (in most cases) is secondary.

Vertical Alignment: Mas Importante

Our eye should see two nice lines down the left and right margins of your resume. Typically I see that right margin clean line broken by dates:



Instead, right-justify the list of years to preserve the vertical alignment. Do you see how that is more pleasing to the eye?

Also, try wherever possible to reconcile columns of text throughout the document. If your Opera section is four columns wide, try to make your Concert section four columns and snap them to the same width. This is the artistry. Good luck.

Clear Tables: Better Than Tabs or Columns

In an effort to preserve vertical alignment, use tables in MS Word, rather than using Tabs or Columns.

The information in your resume is dynamic, not static. In other words, design a resume that is ready to change and shift around easily. If you have used tabs and spaces, then you may have a lot of work to do when you get each new gig and have to adjust spacing.

That is why Tables rule. You can drag the column width as you like and snap the widths to line up with things above or below. Really smooth.

See the resume template to get started with tables:

Insert a table and change the black lines to clear:


Photo: Yes, and Zoomed In

To Photo or not to Photo, that is the question. Answer: yes. Greyscale (ie. black and white) and cropped really right. Don’t have a bunch of dark or colorful background as this will kill your ink (and that of anyone else printing out your resume).

This gives you an opportunity to present a different “look” and gives your panelists one more opportunity to place your face with your name.

Colored Text and Lines: Sparingly If At All

If you are an expert designer, have fun with colors and extra lines all you would like. For those of us mortals, I would steer clear or be sure to pass them by a friend or two for review. Colors print differently from different computers and they can distract from your message: namely, that you are solid, reliable and well put-together.

They can also be a very nice personalized touch when done well. Just know that you are trying to execute a skill that has a higher degree of difficulty.

Email Blue Underlined Hyperlinks: So Annoying

MS Word auto-formats your email address and website URL to blue underlined hyperlinks when you hit the return key or space bar. Remove these links by selecting Edit / Undo Auto-Format from the top menu. That will return the text color to black without any underline.



Composers: Only For Uncommon Compositions

No need to include Mozart when listing The Magic Flute. Less is more. White space is gold.

Professional Contacts Section: Two Options

There seem to be two really solid options on how to handle lists of professional contacts and skills: vertical or horizontal comma-separated. I somewhat prefer the horizontal because it the length of names vary so much. And as a footer, it doesn’t break up the vertical alignment so it is not a problem.

I included both options in the Resume Template files.



Footnotes: Use Them

Rather than writing out the words scenes, cover, current teacher, partial performance, English, or outreach consider using a footer and a symbol such as these:

See the Resume Template files to copy the symbols.

Fonts: One Font Throughout, With Serifs

Pick a font, any font… and stick with it. You can bold it, italics, big, small, whatever. But don’t use multiple fonts.

Resumes should almost always use a font with Serifs, especially in the performing arts. Serif fonts have little curly ends to them and make things much easier to read when printed out. Sans-Serifs generally work better for computer screens (websites, email campaigns, etc.).

In typography, serifs are semi-structural details on the ends of some of the strokes that make up letters and symbols. A typeface with serifs is called a serif typeface (or seriffed typeface). A typeface without serifs is called sans serif or sans-serif, from the French sans, meaning “without”.

Read more about Serif Fonts on Wikipedia.


These are some of the more common fonts with Serifs that may work well on your resume:

  • Baskerville
  • Book Antiqua
  • Bookman
  • Calisto
  • Cambria
  • Century Schoolbook
  • Garamond
  • Georgia
  • Goudy
  • Lucida Bright
  • Modern
  • Palatino
  • Perpetua
  • Times
  • Times New Roman

Font Size: Not Too Small

If you can’t fit things in font size 12 (or possibly 11 for some font types), consider cutting things from the list rather than bumping down the font size. Save an archived copy of your old resume before you cut things out (you may need to remember that old gig from 2005 at some point), but cut, cut, cut.

This is one of the hardest steps for most people, knowing what to cut and making the call. That is where the artistry comes in, but you have to do it. Less is so often more. Again consider how few words are on a Coke billboard. Giving your “audience” clarity is much more important than providing an exhaustive list.

Accuracy and Honesty: Yes, But We Don’t Need A Blood Sample

TMI = Too much information.

I find this the most often with upcoming performances, upcoming school work, competition descriptions and side-stage or cover performances. Search for an accurate and honest, yet and elegant and understated way of communicating the truth.

For example, if you received the “Susan Q. Quackenbush Audience Choice award for best Puccini by a junior undergraduate woman in the Great Lakes district,” find a way to simplify and give props to Susan only if you can. “Winner: district audience choice.”

You may propose a rebuttal such as: “Yeah, but I wasn’t the only audience choice winner and I wasn’t a finalist and Susan’s kids were there to give the prize money …” Simpler is better. You should not feel the burden to spell out every detail. This is your resume, and anyone can ask for clarification if they need it.

Be Bold, Remove Underlines

My graphic and visual designer friends tell me that they don’t like underlines much at all, because underlines often break through letters, especially those that hang down below the line such as “y,” “j,” “p” and “g.” Underlines therefore can make your resume harder to read.

If you need to add emphasis, consider using Bold.

Typos and Accents

Offer your friend $1 for every typo they can find on your resume. It will be worth it.

Another suggestion: Google every single item on your resume. If you list Cosi, Google it to see how the Met handles the accent and to see how your character’s name is spelled. Definitely Google every single professional contact on your resume. Those are very easy to miss.

I often see accents missing, going the wrong way, or improper capitalization in these shows:

  • Così fan tutte
  • La Bohème
  • L’Elisir d’Amore — Often the “D” is cap with a small “a”
  • Hänsel und Gretel — If you use “und” then you need “ä”, otherwise just use “and”
  • Roméo et Juliette — If you use “et” then you need “é”, otherwise just use “and”

Classical Singer Magazine, May 2011


The Tech-Savvy Singer

The Velvet Business Plan


Keeping track of the small details of your career is a challenge for every singer. And yet, having and sorting that information could be critical to your success as a singer. Find out why it’s so important and read about a new tool that is making it easier than ever.

Everyone tells you that you need to write a business plan. But how many singers have actually done it? Well, if you’re attending this year’s Classical Singer Convention, now’s your chance. Bill Bennett, creator of Velvet Singer, a software program that helps singers organize their professional lives, will be conducting a workshop on creating a business plan. Here he talks about his software and why, yes, you actually do need to write that business plan.

What’s Velvet Singer?

Velvet Singer is an organizational tool for classical singers that I developed while I was finishing up grad school at DePaul and doing some part-time consulting work. I began by creating a simple database to track my auditions and just added from there. Then I began expanding as I found the need: What repertoire was I singing at auditions? How much was I spending? Who was I meeting? So it was born out of necessity. There was no way to keep track of this information other than developing big Excel sheets or lugging around a pen and paper.

So what, exactly, does the software consist of?

Well, it is a relational database application—it is like layers of spreadsheets carefully interconnected and ready made. What is powerful about a database is that you can quickly jump around and tally up data: How much did I spend last year? How many auditions did I perform? What is my most successful starting aria? But I find that the “softer” features are still the ones people write to me the most about: journaling after auditions and lessons, developing a new process, and having that accountability to keep after your goals and stay organized. That is what represents a major breakthrough for people in using Velvet Singer.

How does Velvet Singer differ from what’s already available on YAP Tracker?

I use YAP Tracker and have for years. I love the features and am impressed with how they continue to roll out excellent tools to help our business evolve. I primarily use YAP Tracker as a way to look up information. Along with Classical Singer and a few other resources, YAP Tracker is an excellent way to learn about auditions and competitions. Velvet Singer solves an entirely different problem area for singers: staying organized in all that we do.

Velvet Singer helps you organize and keep track of productions in which you perform, money that you make, people that you work with, repertoire that you are working on, lessons that you sing. And so Velvet Singer is a comprehensive journaling method of chronicling your entire professional journey, almost like developing a memoir—but a powerful, data-driven memoir with hundreds of statistical reports, tax information, and over 2,600 arias to pick from. Velvet Singer is a new category of product. My main competition is people working up several Excel spreadsheets or using good, old-fashioned pen and paper.

Do you find people get overwhelmed with so many features or do they take to it easily?

Developing a workflow and interface is more of an art than a science. An iPhone does so many different things. If you dig into the settings, you can really get through layers and layers of functions. But it is simple and clean. Velvet Singer is cross-platform (Windows or Mac), but it has a nice, colorful, Mac-like feel. I am grateful to have such a great team to help continually refine what and how we present data. So I find that singers, even singers who are not comfortable with technology, take to it quite well.

The software begins by asking a few simple questions, like “What is your voice type?” From there, users quickly set up some repertoire by picking from our list of arias. After you develop repertoire, the system asks if you have sung any productions in the past. Productions become “Projects” in Velvet Singer, and each project has people you worked with, repertoire you performed, money you made (or spent).

As users explore, they can peel back the layers. If you explore into the lessons and coachings area, you will be prompted to sync with your Google calendar. If you are liking some of the reports and want to share them with your friends, teachers, or parents, the system will ask to set up your e-mail account. So Velvet Singer becomes much more than a static tool waiting for you; it is interactive and helps you along the way.

At the convention, you’re going to be teaching a workshop on building business plans. Teachers and mentors have been telling singers to write business plans at least since I was in college [ahem] years ago, but I’m not sure anybody actually does it.

That is it exactly! Yes, I was told to do it, but never did.

I offer two seminars at schools and opera companies around the country, and they both are working, equipping, hands-on sessions. I studied engineering as an undergrad before pursuing singing for my masters. In engineering, we always had “labs” to correspond to almost every lecture. I follow that same formula in my seminars. Each singer creates a business plan in the session and leaves with a tangible, actionable process for keeping up with it going forward.

Do you actually know any top-level singers who literally have business plans? Or do you think their managers make them?

I certainly do, and many cite business planning activities as core to their success. Top-level singers are typically very busy people and they are very targeted about which business plan articles or exercises they focus on, and these areas naturally are different than would be for singers at other parts of the journey.

For example, a top-level singer may do more work developing a strategic marketing plan by analyzing that market and comparing it to their product. An undergrad may benefit more from doing a strengths-and-weaknesses assessment. The question I ask is “What problem are we trying to solve by doing the work of creating a business plan?” That can be a good way to focus your energy and make sure you are getting the value you seek. Simply, business plans are a way to organize your thoughts, discover new information, and communicate with others.

The philosophy and approach behind Velvet Singer Software and Velvet Singer Seminars are quite similar. They are both solutions that help singers take control and gain objectivity and insight. It was out of the process of developing the software and working with so many singers to define what this all-in-one organizational tool should keep track of, and how it should do it, that I discovered the need to create these seminars and to teach this “process.”

In the seminar, we use a workbook that has many checklists, simple comparison choices, and fill-in-the-blanks. The workbook is a simple, quick, and “push button” framework to give structure to our dialogue. Likewise, the software solution offers simple choices and prepopulated picklists. Our mission is to take what can be a very intimidating process and deliver this message loud and clear: “This doesn’t have to be difficult!”

If you had to boil it down—say, for the people who can’t make the seminar—what would be the three questions a singer should ask themselves, as a proto-business plan?

Rather than trying to tackle a list of business planning areas (even three can represent a serious “barrier to entry”), I would encourage singers to begin by focusing on a process: when, why, and with whom. Choose a process that has a low burden and then make an absolute steadfast commitment to stick with it (100 percent is much easier to maintain than 98 perfect).
For example, resolve to send an e-mail on the first of every month to your dad describing your goal for the next month. Or add quarterly reminders into your calendar that you will treat yourself to coffee and work on your mission statement. Or commit to interviewing six of your “stakeholders” about your strengths and weaknesses. In engineering, we call this an incremental and iterative approach and it absolutely works if you work it.

What do you hope singers take away from your seminar at the convention?

In addition to physically taking away their completed business plan workbook, singers will leave the session with a dramatically improved sense of self-awareness and empowerment over their path.

Amanda White is a coloratura soprano in New York. She can be contacted through her website at

Featured in Classical Singer Magazine


Crack open your May 2011 edition of Classical Singer Magazine (the one with Jane Eaglen on the cover) and you will find this fantastic article on Page 18.

Thank you to Sara Thomas, Jo Isom and Amanda White for their fine work to make this happen. I am so proud that they reached out to us and took notice of the impact we have been making!

In the article, we explore the newest features of Velvet Singer Software, what need it fills and how it is different than other products and services. We also talk a bit about Velvet Singer Seminars including our newest seminar: How to Sustain a Well-Tuned Business Plan.







LA Classical Singer Convention 2011


It was a total thrill to come straight from a service trip in Mexico up the coast to the beautiful City of Angels and the Classical Singer Convention 2011. The impressive CS team of Alex, Jo and Dane had everything all ready for me to hit the ground running and begin making genuine and interesting connections with so many singers.

Coming swiftly on the heels of Classical Singer Magazine‘s excellent Article on Velvet Singer, the singers all knew who I was (flattering) and had started to digest some of the principles of my Business Plan seminar. And they had begun to talk things up at their custom page on Facebook.

These things were so important in terms of setting up a fruitful dialogue: singers had read the article, become familiar with my software and shared their resumes with me! That is such a service to singers, to set the tone appropriately and make sure that they got as much out of their convention experience as possible.

I was privileged to present several awards as part of the Classical Singer Competitions. As part of presenting this award, a talented young woman from Richmond, VA named Victoria Williams joined me on the platform. She was only one of seven National Finalists in the undergraduate competition, and she absolutely slayed the audience as she described why Velvet Singer is so cool. Thank you Victoria!

The highlight for me was the ability to teach my Business Plan Seminar for the Professional Track. These topics are not the most exciting, fun topics to present — especially compared to a masterclass with the likes of Jane Eaglin. And so I was absolutely blown away with the amount of people that enthusiastically attended my session. This is a testament to the convention overall and the type of singers this draws — hungry, earnest and passionate young professionals.

After the seminar, I ran many one-on-one meetings where we were able to dig deeper into artistic Business Plans and Resume Feedback. This is something I am going to start doing much more of. It seems that this is a very effective way to connect with people. Following a group seminar, these one-on-one sessions allow singers to digest and come with their individual questions and thoughts. It is quite demanding work (requires tons of energy), yet is equally fulfilling and rewarding.

Naturally I also had a booth on the floor, where I was charmed by countless young singers. I truly enjoy absorbing some of their energy and ambitions! What a blast. It was also an opportunity to show people Velvet Singer — and it is always a delight to watch people light up when they realize all of the things this solution can do for them. I suppose that is not dissimilar from performance!

CoOPERAtive Makes a Statement


I had the pleasure of revisiting The CoOPERAtive Program this past week, but a few things were different this time — 1) I was able to hear all of the CoOperative Fellows (ages 23-30) sing before we worked together, 2) I had worked with many of the seminar attendees previously and 3) CoOPERAtive is now offering a Young Artist level (ages 21-23).

1) Listening First

I was completely blown away by this performance. Laura Brooks Rice and Dr. Christopher Arneson continue to expand what this program offers and the quality is empirically impressive.

First off, there actually was an audience! It is quite often that I will pop into weekly recitals or operas at summer programs that I visit to find talented singers performing for very small audiences. Somehow Ms. Rice and Dr. Arneson are able to rally the community to support these singers, and it makes all the difference. And that very evening, one of the community members, unprompted by any direct appeal, approached Ms. Rice with a significant check in support of the mission. That is superb.

Second, the singers really have what it takes. I have heard many a master class teacher refer to “the whole package” — does the singer have the vocal product, look good, move well, interpersonal, some extra charisma or compelling back story? In the case of the CoOPERAtive Fellows 2011, yes all around in many cases. I think of the young tenor that closed the evening with such a compelling full-lyric sound singing an aria from L’arlesiana, and of the very young mezzo who presented Cherubino as if she were skipping rope. She doesn’t even quite know, I don’t think, how few of “her” there are out there. Brava.

Lastly, I looked through the program to find that the coach / accompanists are all professional musicians with significant accomplishments under their belt. Check out the bio on these guys: Thomas Bagwell and Anthony Manoli. Whoa, that’ll dress up a concert!

2) Second Time’s a Charm

It was very neat to start the seminar the morning after the concert with names memorized and insight into what types of performers I was working with. And it was also nice to have many repeat seminar attendees, so we were able to dig deeper into the topics and build on our previous work.

We carved out an entire day to work together on our business plans. It was a fairly hefty undertaking because these topics can be quite exhausting mentally and emotionally — what are your strengths and weaknesses, what kind of support do you have, what type of lifestyle are you looking to / willing to lead? That can be a lot to digest. I was impressed with how this group stayed with it, and I think that is a testament to the tone than is set at the program.

3) CoOPERAtive is Growing

It was also lovely to work with the Young Artist level (ages 21-23) singers and to see how CoOPERAtive is expanding what they have to offer. Adding younger singers into the program seems like an excellent move — these select group of singers have so much to gain just by being around and watching the older group, and likewise the older group is spurred on by the younger group’s energy, passion and zest. Certainly that was how things played out in my seminar, and I was delighted to have been a part of it!

Residency at BASOTI


Last week I took up residency in one of the most beautiful places in the world: San Francisco. I had spent a formative summer in San Fran during the internet boom, working with a web page design firm called Adjacency. The three founders ended up selling ADJ for $67 million in stock to Sapient. The stock proceeded to triple in value allowing these entrepreneurs to buy a few fancy cars then start other businesses.

And so I felt quite the buzz to fly into SFO and take the BART up to Mission Street and get set up for a three day residency with Sylvia Anderson’s stellar program: BASOTI. In addition to being deeply appreciative of the work they prepared for me, they gave me a great shout-out on their newly redesigned website. It is maybe not quite as slick as the Range Rover or Tag Heuer websites I worked on in the 90′s, but it will give you a great taste of just how cool this program is.

During my stay, I provided my business plan seminar to several different groups, and did countless one-on-one meetings in the stunning San Francisco Conservatory of Music. We worked a lot on resumes and out of that work I was able to develop my resume tips and templates. Interestingly, that resume-tips page seems to have caught some eyes. Every day, more and more singers keep finding and clicking that link, according to my Google Analytics web traffic reports. How fun is that?

I also had the opportunity to hear some musical rehearsals and watch staging. They were in the final throws of putting together an ambitious production of Clemenza di Tito, a work I performed with Chicago Opera Theater. The mezzo who took Sesto by the proverbial operatic horns brought such power, grace and intensity to her work. And the soprano that undertook Vitellia’s demanding role had such range and color to her performance. I was thoroughly impressed.

“If you’re going to San Francisco / You’re gonna meet some gentle people there”