Are you fit to be an opera singer?

Maybe you loved basketball growing up. You thought of pursuing it but soon realized that you were way too short to ever go really far with it. No big deal. 
Or you always looked at those beautiful models and thought that it would be a pretty cool job, before you came to the conclusion that you were never meant to be a skin-on-the-bones blond.

What you do love is singing and you definitely want to pursue it. Have you asked yourself if you were physically fit for it, like you would have asked yourself for other jobs? Sure it's an art, but it uses your body so is your body right for it?

Let's take a look at what your vocal folds need to be like for you to have a chance to ever possibly have a full working career as a performer.
  • Volume: I don't know why but there are people with small voices and people with big voices. Audiences pay to hear singers. As in, audiences want to be able to hear a singer sing. It seems to me that there is a correlation between how sustained and successful one's career is to how big their voices are. While there are some good secondary roles for medium voices, there are only rarely roles for small voices. Training might help you add a few levels to your basic volume, but if by the end of your bachelor it's still not there, or a year off after that with a different teacher, it might just not be an option for you.
  • Strength: this is the most crucial one because it links to other important qualities a performing artist needs to have, such as consistency. Can your vocal cords hold up when you are sick and tired? Can you sing a lot and still sound like you just started? Do you have stamina? A common belief is that training and good habits will teach you how to strengthen your voice, and while it's true that poor training will make your voice weaker, there is also a very important part of plain physical nature in this topic. While learning new habits might reduce the frequency of your voice breaking, you would need to sustain an amount of hours of practicing, rehearsing and performing at the professional level that would most likely be too high, and that would make for an inconsistent and short career.
  • Tessitura: that one comes straight from the Fach system. You have to fall into a clear category in order to be cast. If you don't go low enough to be a bass, and not high enough to be a baritone, singing loud and pretty won't make a difference, you just won't get hired. 

Before you spend all your money on a degree that may not bring you a return on your investment, make sure you ask yourself and your trusted entourage if you do have volume, strength and range. Of course other qualities are important to make it as an opera singer: musicality, tone quality, acting abilities, technique, physical type, etc. But those are only considered by employers if they are built on to the basis of volume, strength and tessitura.

I have personal friends who have all that it takes to make it, and yet it is already such a hard career to break into, why try to go there if your body doesn't let you?


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