1. We are aware that some aspects of the performance arts are inherently goofy, and we’re probably making fun of it just as much as you are.
Makeup on dudes. QUESTIONABLE-AT-BEST song texts (see: anytime the Latin word ‘homo’ appears). Choreography/ridiculous staging (I’m looking at you, modern opera!). An overly dramatic conductor. The way we look when we sing the high E flat. Trust us, we know. WE KNOW. Many a conductor has been forced to halt a rehearsal – full of ADULTS, mind you – to scowl and tell us to GROW UP. Some of our best inside jokes come from these moments.
2. We’re more insecure than you can possibly imagine.
In an inherently competitive discipline, we are subjected – constantly – to critiques, comparisons, and judgment. It’s about improvement, not degradation, and it’s simply the nature of our work. Most of us enjoy and truly thrive in this environment, and those who don’t learn to embrace it don’t last long. Overt praise and validation are rare, though, and over time this sort of makes you wonder – do I suck?
3. Our private teacher = mom/therapist/wine buddy.
This may be specific to vocalists. This may be specific to my alma mater, which shall remain unnamed (it’s a legit school, promise). My friends have all had similar and hilarious experiences involving their voice teachers. Over the course of four plus years together, your teacher inevitably becomes your mama. She scolds you when you haven’t practiced enough, when you haven’t worked with that Romanian tutor she told you to get, when you’re just. not. listening. But when she’s talking to anyone else about you, you better believe she’s your biggest advocate. It’s like she’s talking about her favorite child. (This helps mitigate some of the feelings mentioned in Point #2.) You’ll call her when you have big news. You’ll call her when you’re sick. You’ll call her when you dye your hair (and risk her wrath should a performance/audition be coming up). You’ll break down in your lesson more than once due to musical and/or personal issues and have a come-to-Jesus talk. And you’ll love every minute of it.
4. We really, really, really think we’re special.
What’s your major? Biology, ah yes, how original. *Smirks* Mine, you ask? Oh just a little something called MUSIC. NBD. Why yes, yes it is awesome, omg thank you for realizing that! Literally our favorite part of non-music classes is sitting with other music majors and feeling superior. (I realize how awful this is and I truly have no defense for this behavior.)
5. We are legitimately busy every time we claim to be.
Rehearsals are a thing. Practice time is a thing. Coordinating practice time with others who have equally busy schedules is a thing. Practicing the f***ing g**d***n piano is a thing. Attending recitals (the requisite 10 or so for class, plus those of all your studio mates/roommates/friends). Writing counterpoint. Learning three other languages. Learning the diction for said languages. Writing papers. Calling your mom in tears. Attending symposia. Student teaching. Also drinking takes up a lot of time.
6. Our lives are kind of like a soap opera sometimes. Only more interesting.
Throw together divas, narcissists and some truly nice and wonderful people, charge their hormones to MAXIMUM HORMONES AVAILABLE, make sure they spend every waking (and sometimes sleeping) moment together, pepper in low-lit tender backstage moments and late-night practice sessions and stuff, and just SEE WHAT HAPPENS I DARE YOU! Seriously though. We INVENTED frenemies. We have slept with TAs, our friends’ exes, our friends, our collaborative pianists, and perhaps, if we’ve just broken up with someone, an entire instrumental section (jk lol no not really kidding that could totally happen).
7. We take our art very seriously.
Point #1 aside, there is a reason we do what we do. We love the feeling of making music, yes, but within each of us is a sincere belief that what we do is important. Music is a gift that can allow us to communicate emotions – and greater, more spiritual things. Music elevates communication beyond language, and that is what compels us to spend our lives embracing it.