Often as a professional singer, I hear my colleagues of a younger age discuss how competitive the field is. And it isn’t just in the operatic field, as I teach at a college for musical theatre studies, and hear the same thing there. When you start this conversation you can gather a crowd quickly. Soon we are all sitting around and nodding our heads in agreement about how hard it is to be a singer and how competitive it is and gosh, a lot of singers just won’t make it (what ever make it means). Welcome to the voice of fear. Cold, hard, gut wrenching ‘keep you up at night’ fear. These are our scary ghost stories about the horrors of the profession. Suddenly the word competitive means that there isn’t enough for all of us. Someone has to go. It seems to me rather like there are 6 people on a desert island with only two water bottles and it is hot.The constant competition of an ever-growing group of musicians chasing an ever-dwindling number of jobs is one of the central issues facing the profession today. We ignore it at our peril.
And yet, the power lies within each of us not just to desire fitting into pre-existing job slots, but to create new ones, to think out-of-the-box, sideways, and laterally in order to grow musical life in ways that nobody has thought of, and in ways that can generate a product with both musical integrity and the potential for income.
What are some avenues for musicians to create new growth in classical music?