Looking back at the entries I’ve written in the past I realized something was missing. Obviously, the title of my blog is “Singing for a Smaller Me”, but I’ve never really addressed my passion for music. That’s because I made a conscious decision to focus my attention on my weight loss effort. Setting up good habits now will help me more with my singing/acting career in the long run than allowing bad habits to creep in by spreading my focus too thin.
I come from a reasonably musical background: my dad plays and teachs piano, my great grandfather was in the New York Metropolitan Opera Chorus, and my great grandmother – so I’ve been told – had an amazing coloratura soprano voice.
Since I can remember my dad was at the piano playing classical music, improvising jazz solos, and regularly teaching piano lessons. I don’t remember a time in my life when there wasn’t music.
At eight years old I expressed an interest in playing the piano and it was my good fortune we had a built in teacher. On and off I played for a few years, learning the basics, but never really applying myself – piano practice was not my forte. By the time I was twelve the piano lessons had stopped, but I developed a deep and abiding love of music, and regularly twiddled around a bit on the piano.
Over the years, performing in one way or another was a constant. For a long time it was dance lessons, then it was piano, however, around twelve or thirteen years old I found my real passion: singing. Musical theatre, classical, jazz, you name it. Oh, and acting too.
It all fit together pretty well: My dad and I would sit at the piano for hours as I sang and played. And as it turns out I had a pretty natural talent for it, and a naturally pleasant sounding singing voice.
My vocal epiphany also came at the same time I slowly began putting on weight. It wasn’t much of an issue in middle school or high school – they still cast me in just about every part for which I auditioned. But as I got older and continued to put on weight, I was regularly getting passed up by less talented but better looking girls. Still, I continued to perform and went to college to study opera.
My response to those who told me to lose weight was that it didn’t matter in opera. Yeah, right. In this day and age, unless you have a phenomenal talent or are one of the lucky ones that has a very rare vocal type, it matters. Modern audiences don’t want to see a 250 lb woman playing the soprano who’s dying of consumption. They want a Salome that can do the Dance of the Seven Veils, and petite geisha girls as Madame Butterfly.
But I digress . . .
It wasn’t until after college when I was auditioning for professional companies that it finally hit me. I wasn’t being passed up for parts because I wasn’t good enough (although there are plenty out there just as good or better than me), my weight was working against me. Talent only takes you so far, and as a soprano struggling to make a name for herself, I need to stand out in every possible way.
Now, I know that losing weight won’t magically make directors cast me in every show. Still, it is one reason out of many that I keep chugging along.