As an aspiring singer, actor, musician or other kind of performer, getting comfortable with auditions is a big part of the process. Along with this comes rejection, which you might face a lot of before you make it big. Read on as Haddon Heights, NJ teacher Aaron K. shares his tips for moving on…
I’m currently trying to become a professional opera singer. I know, it’s a dying art form, no one really understands the plots, and it’s only for snobby rich people who actually enjoy listening to Arnold Schoenberg (sorry if you do, I still can’t get into it). While I understand (yet contest for many reasons) all the previous points, I am choosing this path and have to deal with something that is common to all performers, whether you’re working toward a singing career or something else in the industry: rejection.
You’ve trained for years. You’ve read all the articles on auditioning. Heck, maybe you’ve even researched your audition panel to try to play to their tastes. But after all that effort, you didn’t get the part. You didn’t get on American Idol. You didn’t get into the college you had your heart set on. I’ve personally had to deal with rejection more times than I like to think about. Here’s a few steps to help you with this difficult outcome.
1) Separate yourself from your performing.
The initial impact of being told “no” can be quite hard. What really makes matters worse, though, is when you take rejection as a personal attack. You are not your voice. You are not your interpretation of Hamlet. You are not your piano, cello, flute, or anything else you have been studying. You are a complex human being with many attributes that are unique and wonderful. Your auditioners are not saying no to you as a person. It’s much easier to say my singing was rejected rather than I was rejected.
2) Shrug off the “je ne sais quoi” factor.
After getting over the initial emotional blow, your mind can start churning ceaselessly with thoughts like “Why didn’t they like me?”, “Did they not like my high Bb?”, or “I knew I should have taken it at a slower tempo.” While it will be important to reflect on what you need to improve (the next step), for now it is important to recollect yourself. Realize that there are any number of things (some of which may be out of your control) that might have lead to the rejection. Perhaps the panel wanted someone taller. Perhaps the college wanted a student who couldn’t play as well but had better grades. Or perhaps someone else took your spot because they knew someone in the selection process. It’s impossible to know exactly why your performance wasn’t chosen. Rather, accept that you didn’t have that certain “je ne sais quoi” and don’t give it another thought. Instead, try to shift your focus and…
3) Ask “What I can do better next time?”
With a strong emotional reaction, it’s important to take a step back and rationally evaluate your weak areas. Do you lack flexibility and accuracy in your training? Work on scales and arpeggios. Did you lose your support on the high notes? Do more lip burbles in higher keys. Did your monologue seem vague and uninteresting? Make more specific choices in your delivery. When faced with rejection, you can either let it eat away at you and destroy your resolve, or you can face it as a challenge for the next time.
At the end of the day, rejection won’t matter if you’re pursuing a performance or singing career for the right reason. It’s not just something fun for you. You’re driven by a need to express and create. You have something meaningful to say and you want people to listen. If this is the case, it won’t matter that this audition didn’t pan out, because you have 10 more lined up. You may get rejected for years and work jobs you hate for pennies that can barely sustain your lessons and audition fees. But dealing with rejection will never be an issue because it will be as normal to you now as your morning cup of coffee. If this is the case, you don’t have to worry about “making it” in the performance world. If this is the case, you are an artist, and the only thing that matters to you is your art.
Aaron K. teaches acting, singing, and piano in Haddon Heights, NJ. He received his Bachelor’s degree in Music from University of Miami and a Master’s degree in Vocal Performance from Texas Tech University. Learn more about Aaron here!
Photo by marc falardeau