When do you decide to stop chasing the career as a professional singer / actress and make some firm career decisions for the future?
This is a very hard question and one that I imagine everyone that has studied at Drama School or Music Conservatoire has mulled over at some time in their lives.
If I am being completely honest with myself I knew whilst at college and very soon afterwards that the life of a fully fledged professional Mezzo Soprano was not for me. I think that I followed my dreams through university and beyond because:
- Music was what I loved most and people said I had a beautiful voice– I had to choose a university course so I chose Music
- I didn’t have any other idea about what it was that I wanted to do in life – I had a limited understanding of the different career paths that I could follow and a limited grasp on what opportunities were out there in the big wide world
- I loved the idea of being commercially well known like ‘Lesley Garrett’, Kiri Te Kanawa, Katherine Jenkins, Russell Watson, Alfie Boe
- My mum said ‘Jane do what you love doing.’
I read Music at Sheffield University and then took a year out. I worked for my father in the logistics business and really enjoyed the office/business environment when I think back BUT I was hell bent on being a singer. I was going to Music College when my voice was ‘mature enough’ and nothing was getting in my way.
All my family and friends knew I was going to be a singer. With hindsight now I had no idea what ‘being a singer’ really meant! In reality I had a pretty good voice and I love to sing and perform so hence I was heading to be a professional singer. How naïve!!
After running the London Marathon and raising thousands of pounds for charity as a result in my ear off surely I should have had an inkling that ‘organisation’, ‘leadership’ and ‘business’ was going to be my calling. No, no, no……. one of the charity events I was singing in (that I had organised) I was going to be a ‘singer’ it was a Last night of the Proms, big dress, brass band, huge auditorium –type event ! I was going to be a professional opera singer! Surely then did I not realise that it was not an ‘opera singer’ that I was going to be – I was liking the commercial element not the Covent Garden or Opera on a shoe string element to the career.
Sadly, Music Conservatoire had to wait another year as I had an incredibly life threatening recovery process to endure following straight forward surgery and was left on crutches for a further 12 months. But I was thrilled when in 2002 I finally reached the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama, now known as the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, and embarked upon my Masters training to become a professional Opera Singer!
I had a ball at college and trained with the best! But I think that I knew in my deepest heart of hearts then that I couldn’t be an ‘opera singer’. BUT I could not have admitted to ANYONE at college that it was the commercial singing that I loved and strived for. I didn’t even really know this was what it was then! And remember my family and friends all knew Jane was going to be an ‘opera singer’. The pressure……that I had created………for myself……geez………
I graduated 2 years later, I was engaged to be married and I moved back to my home town, Blackburn. Dreams of becoming an opera singer still intact!
Then BUMP…..REALITY…….LIFE! I got a house, needed to pay for council tax and bills and a mortgage. Auditions? Opera Singer? Er……..I think not! What can I do …………………mmmmm TEACH! That dirty word from college that no one would ever admit that they would do full time: teach singing! SO I started teaching and I didn’t look back – with lots of singing at concerts, weddings and funerals in between (which I LOVED).
I saved for a wedding, I got married, I fell pregnant………………….. and then guess what…..I got a big audition! I bottled it. I didn’t go. That was NOT what I wanted!! I didn’t want to go through that audition process, that going to London, the rejection or indeed the offer of a role and then the move away from home. I was pregnant, I was a home bird. This opera career thing was not for me. I knew it in my heart – but could I voice it to others or tell my family and friends that that was how I felt – NO ABSOLUTELY NOT! I couldn’t!!!!
My husband left me for someone else when 6 months pregnant and then life became all about my baby and teaching to keep a roof over our heads. No one asked me about my career as an ‘opera singer’ – it was insignificant to others in the grand scheme of things.
I had no maternity pay, no help from anyone else financially (but lots of help emotionally) and several days after my beautiful daughter was born I went back to teaching singing across the Lancashire county. I could only do this with the help of my amazing family though.
Teaching was how we survived, the odd wedding, concert and funeral performance here and there. But I was not fulfilled, there was something more inside me and in 2007 Little Voices was born.
I didn’t know how Little Voices was going to revolutionise my life. But it did. I am happy. I am in my right role and the future is bright. Better still after 4 years of learning every mistake in the book, streamlining how a successful singing/drama business should operate, continuously learning and self developing myself as a marketer and successful business owner of a National company I can know help others to find themselves, run their own successful business in the right way and change their future, whilst still staying true to themselves and their personal goals!
And do you know what in 2014 I made the transition and admitted to myself and feel comfortable having an open conversation with anybody about singer verses teacher verses what career path to explore and follow. And what is even better I can have both. A successful business and a commercial career, singing! It is all about having your vision, your targets, your goals and being true to yourself and your beliefs.
The ethos of Little Voices mirrored exactly the principles behind my 1:1 teaching – OUTSTANDING, HIGH QUALITY, THE VERY BEST TUITION IN SINGING AND DRAMA, CONFIDENCE FOR ALL DELIVERED THROUGH LESSONS, CARE AND ATTENTION TO DETAIL AND EACH INDIVIDUAL. This ethos comes from the top and emulates through every pore of Little Voices, nationally.
I would love to hear your comments and journey so far……..
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