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Building Trust in Performance

This is a blog about TRUST. Singers often have to put up with criticism that is destructive, rather than what it should be intended to be - constructive. No performer can see themselves -  we all rely on the people we work with to see what we’re doing and enhance it, not tear it down. I’ll give you some examples of singers actual experience with trust issues, and I hope that you start watching out of those ‘red flags’ that tell you you’re working with the wrong person!

Recently I had a great conversation with one of my favorite singers, who is very focused on her career, and is going from success to success. She was telling me how much help and support she’s gotten from her coaches,  As she put it,  “You should only work with someone who has won your trust.” And while that seems to be perfectly obvious, it isn’t always the case.

A teacher told me how her tenor student was cast in a leading role in an opera, and that eventually withdrew from the production during rehearsals, which were not only badly  organized and a great waste people’s time, but the tenor had also been the victim of  humiliation and abuse. It has to be pretty bad if you get to the point where it would be better  not to do the job!

I work with a singer who told me  “People say I perform too much!”  When she started singing,  I was immediately struck with how expressive she was, how much meaning she found in the  words and their musical setting. Another singer, told me that she had an acting teacher and “it  always felt like he was judging me, and I never felt safe.”

Well, I have news for you, if you didn’t know it already. The music business is chock full of

people who have opinions, and who feel it is absolutely their sacred duty to let you have their  opinion whether you want them or not.

There are many great music conservatories and colleges in this country, with some great  teachers and coaches with remarkable credentials. But music school doesn’t have the time (the time that they really wish they had) to get to know you completely, you the individual, because the job is to train you, the student, in the time that you both have to complete the studies. And classical vocal training cannot follow the same syllabus as any other degree course. So your own imagination, your own process, your own artistry gets short-changed because of the volume of students and the limited time you have to get that degree requirement filled.

This creates a mindset that there is a right way of performing an aria, a role, and that you have to find it, and you are frequently being observed and critiqued by someone who wants you to do it the way they think is the right way. So you come out of school and start working with coaches and teachers who you also think know the right way of performing or approaching  something, but think about it — have they really won your trust?

That’s up to them, not you! You need to know that what they are working on with you is actually working. Remember, if they don’t really see you and they don’t really hear you, it’s time for you to stop paying them money and find someone else. You are buying a product with your money. If the product is unsatisfactory or unfulfilling or just isn’t frigging working - and working clearly and effectively - take your money somewhere else.  If you feel as if you’re being judged, get away from that. Stay connected to the people you trust, because they can actually see you and hear you, which none of us can do objectively! Go with the advice that supports and encourages you, that opens you up to all sorts of possibilities, and avoid the advice that is based on someone’s opinion about what is the right way.  Your career is your business. Do your business with people who cause your business to grow. And lastly, and most importantly — learn to trust yourself in your work. And if you haven’t started trusting yourself, start learning how to do that now!


For more insights, tips, and discussions on navigating the complexities of this world, keep following my blog. If you’re on the lookout for a collaborator who values trust and constructive development, take a moment to see how we can work together by checking out my services page. Remember, your artistic journey is uniquely yours; it deserves to be supported by the right individuals.

Don't forget to also explore my YouTube channel for additional resources and visual insights into the world of performance. Between our blog, services, and video content, there’s a wealth of support waiting for you.

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