How to use the power of REJECTION for AWESOME
Bringing you the Best of 2012! Rejection sucks, here is how you deal with it!
by Allison Clendaniel
“For every ‘Yes’ there are ninety-nine ‘NOs!!’” My heart pains every time someone tells me that. Sometimes I catch myself thinking, “When will I get MY big break?” “Is she really THAT much better than I am?” “Can I pull myself back up again?” These negative thoughts quickly destroy my peace of mind. I’ve had to teach myself over the last four years how to cope with a gruesome truth of this industry: REJECTION.
The most exhilarating facet of a singer’s career are the incredible highs and lows the artist endures. It’s sometimes easy to lose sight of the positive things happening in your life when the rejection is piling up. Here are some things to think about when the going gets rough:
First and foremost, don’t take it personally. I know this is review for everyone, but it really is true. A singer can lose a job for a whole variety of reasons. Maybe your hair is too dark, your sound is too bright, or you’re half an inch too tall for the tenor they’ve already hired. Who knows? The point is that you remember you are a worthwhile singer.
Secondly, don’t put your eggs in one basket. Set smaller goals for yourself. Always keep something coming in the future. To me, there is nothing more depressing than an empty agenda. Put on a recital, learn a new role, maybe revise your aria package, and most importantly, take as many auditions as possible. I try to have at least one or two auditions per month just to stay in the audition mode. There is no other situation quite like the audition and staying in tune to the way you deal with that is key.
Finally, sometimes you’ve just got to unleash the tears. Don’t beat yourself up about it. It’s OK to feel sad over a lost audition — put on the Adele and LET ‘ER RIP! Get it out and move on. As I said previously, do not forget about all the good in your life. You are a professional musician and incredibly lucky to do what you do.
So now what? You’re over your depression and now its time for AWESOME.
Be aware and be honest. If you have a bad audition, don’t just shake it off and pretend that nothing happened. Assess. What could you have possibly done better to receive the part? Why didn’t you do the things you practiced? Were you prepared enough? What can help you get in the zone? The night before an audition I write a list of the things I’d like to accomplish beyond singing well: maintain eye and mental focus, stand up straight, address the auditors with a smile, speak clearly, don’t get too tense, maintain a little Allison in everything I do, etc. What qualifies a good performance to you? Write it all down and boil it down to a few “trigger” words: focus, clarity, commitment, etc. Before your audition, have these words run through your head as a little mantra. It’s amazing how much this can help.
Whenever possible, go to see the production of the role you lost. Often times, I receive a lot of closure. I can see reasoning behind a director’s choice. I feel a lot of jealousy too, but that, like rejection, is one emotion you have to face head on. If nothing else, you get to see a fabulous production and support your fellow musician.
Find a confidant outside of your teacher. Don’t get me wrong, teachers are your all-knowing gods, but they hear you every week and have certain things that they’re listening for. Find a friend who will give a brutally honest, but never ill-intended, critique about diction, pitch, and interpretation. You can do the same for them. The more outside input you receive on your own singing, the better.
Practice like it’s a performance. Imagine there is someone in the room who would make you nervous if you had to sing for them. In my practice space there is a poster of Beyoncé. I think to myself “Would I want Beyoncé to hear THAT?” Nothing is more intimidating than singing for the Queen. Find the person who inspires you to really engage and perform. Incorporating that into your practice makes it that much easier when performance comes around.
Lastly, when you audition, forget about rejection. Remember why you chose this crazy life goal — because you LOVE to sing.
Soprano Allison Clendaniel, is an emerging operatic artist based in Baltimore, Maryland. She is currently finishing her undergraduate degree at the Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University under the tutelage of Dr. Steven Rainbolt and William Sharp. Most recently, Miss Clendaniel was seen in the role of The Lady with the Cakebox in Peabody Chamber Opera’s cover run of Postcard from Morocco. She is a finalist for Peabody’s prestigious Sylvia Green Concerto competition and won first place in the 2012 Maryland/DC NATS competition, moving her on to the regionals.
As a recitalist, Miss Clendaniel began the season singing the partial role of Marguerite from Gounod’s Faust at the Peabody/Lyric Opera of Baltimore Gala. She was featured at the Russian Cultural Center in Washington D.C., the Walter’s Art Gallery Noon Recital Series, and The Peabody Institute Thursday Noon Recital Series.
Allison is equally comfortable in operatic repertoire as in musical, and straight theatre as well as cabaret. She has participated in stage roles, including Yum Yum in the Southern Delaware Choral Society’s Mikado, Cecily in The Importance of Being Ernest and Luisa in The Fantasticks, both with Milton Theatre Company.
Throughout her classical studies, Miss Clendaniel has appeared in master classes with distinguished artists such as Dominic Cossa, John Shirley-Quirk, Kevin Farrell, François Loup, and JR Fralick. She is the recipient of the Michael R. Bloomberg Scholarship Fund, the Jephsen Educational Trust Fun, Peabody Merit Scholarship, the Edna Postels Scholarship and the Lee Mitchell Scholarship. Allison has been an award recipient in Classical Singer Magazine’s High School Expo Vocal competition and the National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS) competition in classical voice.
When Allison isn’t singing she enjoys hiking in the woods, collecting records, cooking, and spending time with her family, friends, and pets: Dewey, Sadie, Gracie, Nelson, and Walker Texas Ranger Clendaniel (four cats and a dog).