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05/06/2013

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Adrianna Valero

I am not an opera singer, I do love opera and music in general, but it was clear the Billfold post was so ridiculous and downright laughable. Saying you are a good singer because you had a handful of roles IN SCHOOL where only your fellow classmates and family will see you perform, is the same as saying you are a great actor because one time in college you landed the lead in Hamlet. Gimme a freakin break with that naive arrogance. The fact is even I could tell she wasn't driven enough, did not love opera enough, and was flat out not good enough to be an opera singer and has found her true passion in musical theater. All the money in the world can't buy you talent, and I hate this self-entitled attitude that only "classically trained" singers are REAL singers. Whatever that means. Orlando Bloom is "classically trained" in acting and all that schmuck does is do a great impersonation of an oak tree in all his films, while shouting every line. Not saying training doesn't help or make you better, but some people are just not talented and no matter how much money or programs they take they won't be a great and that is just how it is. Culinary school teaches you how to use a knife and helps you learn cooking skills but does not make you a great chef who will be innovative and excite customers, and school will not suddenly make you passionate for your field. For opera the author of Billfold just didn't have that talent or drive, period. That is evident in the entire post and is calling a spade a spade. You give really great, practical advice, and show an honesty that isn't riddled with bitterness. Thanks for this post.

Claudia Friedlander

Thanks for the comment, Adrianna!

I agree that the Billfold writer is an extreme case. She clearly did not have adequate creative and personal resources to pursue an opera career, which in the end are much more important than financial resources.

What's unfortunate is that most aspiring singers can't accurately assess whether they have the requisite creative and personal resources for an opera career until they've already signed on for a degree program. It takes some experience and exposure to figure out whether this is for you. While that's true of most trades, singers are less likely to get a realistic idea of whether they can go the distance from their undergraduate classwork. They don't get a clear picture of what the career path entails or the lifestyle choices that go along with it.

It's a given that there will be a certain percentage of people who complete an undergraduate music performance degree and then decide that the career just isn't for them. But when our educational system fails to provide adequate training and career counseling, it engenders the kind of bitterness expressed by the woman who wrote the Billfold piece. Instead of intentionally opting out, singers feel rejected and disenfranchised by a system where the odds are mysteriously stacked against them.

Only 20 - 25% of people who enroll in Navy Seal training make it through the program. The training is designed to swiftly weed out those who aren't viable. The percentage of singers who enroll in performance degree programs who end up with professional careers is likely smaller, and for the same reasons: It's a tough job, it's a tough life, and not everyone is cut out for it.

We don't do them any favors by granting them degrees without the proper qualifications. They may not be facing actual bullets, but we're still putting them in harm's way.

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