Masters students at Westminster Choir College are at a great advantage. Among many other fantastic course offerings which help prepare singers to quickly transition into professional realms, one course at Westminster focuses on the traditional gateway into operatic performance: The Audition.
Laura Brooks Rice’s graduate-level course “Opera Auditions: Preparation and Techniques” offers Voice Pedagogy and Performance majors the opportunity to refine this core element of our craft. Singers explore new repertoire and work to polish their audition presentation.
Ms. Rice brings in top-tier guest artists on a weekly basis to provide feedback. After leaving graduate school, feedback of this type and quality is so difficult (and expensive) to generate.
The course also focuses on process. Few students will leave the class with a flawless package of five arias ready to win The Met Competition. In addition to solving specific issues and making dramatic improvements, the purpose of the course is to teach a process for refinement, so that the singers are properly equipped for the journey ahead.
That is where Velvet Singer Software steps in. Ms. Rice delivers homework assignments that students can accomplish by the use of Velvet Singer. In this way, she leverages their efforts so that they not only learn about the here and now, but they also develop a process for the future.
Rather than creating a list of past auditions and current repertoire, with Velvet Singer the students develop a powerful method and skill set for tracking their auditions and repertoire far into the future.
What power? What is the key benefit?
A large part of the benefit to students occurs during the data entry process. Simply taking the time to make sure all of the boxes are checked makes a giant impact. Being deliberate about journaling what you performed and how you felt is certainly over half the battle. By the time it comes to look back on your journey and plan out where you want to go, you will have a simplified and clearer vision for the future.
Reporting and analysis illuminates what intuition and feedback cannot. The best predictor of future behavior is past behavior. You have to create a clean, objective look into where you have been before you can plan where you are going.
What is your most effective aria?
This report gives students tangible insight in which aria or song has worked the best in the past. “Win” or “Loss” is determined by the status of the audition record. If your audition status is set to “Contract Offered” or “Contract Accepted”, then that audition was a win. In an academic setting, a contract may be to sing a solo with your school choir (at Westminster, that solo may be at Carnegie Hall!) or to perform a role in the opera.
Are your auditions improving?
This report show how many auditions you have been singing over each audition season and whether your outcomes are improving. Auditions take time and energy, so it is not enough for a singer to solely focus on whether or not they have projects to work on. If you are getting work, how much effort did it take for you to generate that work.
Who are you singing for?
There are several ways to analyze who you are singing for and what success you are seeing. This report breaks down your auditions by company budget level. This can be very helpful for those that are starting to target opera young artist programs.