Well, personally, I feel this is hog wash, but I am biased, as I am a singer who took the ‘higher education’ route. I studied music in high school, college and then ended up with a degree in Music – Voice Performance. While I was studying it was drummed into me the importance of the equal partnership of working with instruments; such as piano, guitar or orchestra. To this day, I do not use the word accompanist for anyone who I perform with as it seems to mean someone as an added accessory, rather than the equal partnership it truly is.
Saying that, I’m frustrated at the myths which abound in regards to singers: we’re difficult, arrogant and don’t know anything about the music we sing or disregard what the other person is playing. It’s just not true! In fact, I find that working with others I often need and want their input as to how they feel the piece works. If there isn’t that vital pull and push with one another, it just doesn’t work. I’ve had so many times when I’ve asked the person playing with me, what they think the music needs and I just get a blank face, expecting me to tell them how it’s meant to go – ack! My worst nightmare.
While this is my experience, I’ve also experienced the singer who is insensitive to whom they are working with and personifyng the stereo type I’ve mentioned, but they are few and far between. They are often either young and/or amateur. Professionals can’t afford to have that kind of attitude in today’s very competitive market of opera singing. With all these reality shows promoting opera/classical singing as a great career and colleges/universities pumping out singers by the dozen, well, you have to be on top of your game to compete. Especially if you are a soprano. Also, I’ve met this type of person in all musical genres and players. So why is it that singers are singled out and put to the side. Is it because we don’t play an instrument outside of our bodies?
I think part of the problem is supported by the industry, through the fact that singers aren’t a part of the Musicians Union, but rather Equity. Even within Equity, we are put in the category with the clowns, contortionists and the like. I’m not saying anything against these roles in the entertainment industry, but I believe I have more in common with a trombonist, than I do with a contortionist.
So I would love to hear from those of you out there that can either explain this or just give me your view point, but please be nice. I am human. I’d like to see that the ‘poor 2nd cousin’ attitude towards singers moves into the age of now, where a singer is a musician and not just a pretty face.