One of the questions people often ask me when I tell them that I am a full-time vocal artist is, “What do you do all day?” It’s a fair query; as you might guess, I don’t spend 40 hours a week singing (that would kill even the sturdiest set of vocal cords). My workdays, like yours, are divided between lots of different tasks.
As a professional singer, I do spend a fair amount of time performing. Since I started at Heartland in mid-September, our busiest week included ten performances and three group rehearsals (!). Normally we sing a much more manageable three performances per week.
Some of these performances are large public events, including Heartland concerts (since I started we’ve hosted Light Eternal, Let’s Make a Scene, and The Spirit of Christmas). But they also include shows we are hired for (such as our collaborations with the Fort Wayne Ballet and Switchback), private events (club meetings, holiday parties), and educational and community outreach. The other full-time Vocal Artists and I often take a few hours out of our day to sing at local schools, public offices, and other venues.
Of course, a lot of preparation has to happen for all of those performances. Each day, the other full-time Vocal Artists and I allot about 15 minutes for individual warm-ups–working up and down our ranges, doing vocalises and exercises that strengthen our techniques.
We spend anywhere from 1-4 hours per day rehearsing. Sometimes we rehearse as individuals or with a partner, working on diction, technique, and blend. We also spend a lot of time rehearsing quartet and quintet numbers, honing our sound as a small ensemble. Usually we have a larger rehearsal with the part-time vocal artists each week.
We also include recording sessions in our rehearsals about once a week. This can include audio or video, which we then use for education, publicity, and competitions. Occasionally it also includes the Heartland podcast, for which we have recorded both spoken and sung segments.
Making It Happen
Some of my work involves music, but I get to “take a break” and do it at my laptop, usually with a coffee in hand. Lately we have spent a lot of time programming concerts, such as a second Let’s Make a Scene and an upcoming Karaoke Classics concert (be sure to catch it–it’s going to be loads of fun!). We arrange music for the group, teach voice lessons, and hold a weekly Vocal Round Table to discuss vocal technique, both as singers and as voice teachers.
The full-time Vocal Artists are also tasked with plenty of administrative work, everything from looking for costumes, to networking with Heartland customers and donors. One of our current projects is writing a teaching handbook that all of the Heartland Vocal Artist will use when teaching lessons for the organization. Occasionally we even have in-services from professionals in our industry, most recently Don Bernadini from the Toledo Opera.
What Do You Do All Day?
So, what do I do all day? Just like you, I am busy. I think. I plan. I arrange. I collaborate. And yes, I sing. It’s a beautiful life filled with music, and I can’t imagine doing anything else.