The old saying is, “practice, practice, practice” but in my experience, that’s only 10% of it!
Growing up singing in North Carolina, I always dreamed of being a professional musician. I began voice lessons in middle school and never stopped. It hasn’t been all rainbows and sunshine, though. There have been auditions I didn’t get and performances that were far from my best (namely the time I forgot the words to the National Anthem—I “saved” it, but how embarrassing!). The pandemic has further complicated performing with many engagements being rescheduled and cancelled.
I always knew I didn’t need to star on Broadway or sing at the Metropolitan Opera to feel like I was a successful musician. I was happy to sing smaller, local engagements and I still am! Those smaller gigs paved the way for my successful journey to Carnegie Hall on Monday 2/21/22.
Let’s take a look at some of the steps involved:
Voice lessons 16 years
Piano lessons 5 years
Guitar lessons 2 years
Hundreds of auditions (in person and virtual) and mostly hearing “No”
1 Young Artist Program
2 self-promoted concerts
10+ Professional Opera/Chorus gigs
Church choir section leader 5+ years
Bachelor of Music degree
Master of Music degree
Those are just the musical steps, without mention of the physical, mental, financial, and emotional demands of auditioning and performing!
So, what does it take to get to Carnegie Hall you ask?
Practice, perseverance, and a little bit of crazy. You must be crazy enough to actually think you can pull it off, and willing/able to sacrifice aspects of your personal life at times. I’d like to add that having a strong support system of family, friends, teachers, and colleagues has helped me through the years.
By far, the most requested songs in the studio lately have been songs from Disney’s Encanto. This delightfully animated film is full of life, color, charm, and many ear-grabbing hits by none other than Lin-Manuel Miranda. You’ll recognize his name from Hamilton, Mary Poppins Returns, and the tick, tick, BOOM! movie. It seems like everything he touches turns to gold!
If you’re a parent of a child middle school aged and younger, you’re probably walking around singing and humming, “We don’t talk about Bruno,” “Surface Pressure,” “The Family Madrigal” and many more! It is amazing that “…Bruno” has stolen the #1 spot on the Billboard charts, and charts higher than Frozen’s “Let It Go!” Bet you never thought you’d get that one out of your head…
I think what makes “…Bruno” so special is that many characters have the chance to sing. It’s not meant to be a solo song, it’s for the ensemble! One of my favorite songs is “Surface Pressure.” I love seeing Disney feature a strong, female character instead of a damsel-in-distress ingenue.
If you love this movie as much as I do, drop a comment and tell me your favorite song and why!
Maria Palombo is a Voice Instructor and Singer living in Central NJ. She is the founder of Finely Tuned Voice Lessons, a private voice studio in Mercer County, NJ.