This summer I have attended 3 different singing competitions, not as a participant but as eager supporter and observer. Obviously many people always argue you cannot compete in music because it cannot be measured. Quite true. But some singers just do very well in competitions and others often fail. If you don´t reach your best in a competition how can you do well in other performance situations? That´s just the issue – there are many great singers who under-perform in competitions and auditions which resemble each other and are often the worst situations a singer must face. Must you win? Yes, if you want that prize or that part. Must you compete? No, but then your talent may remain unnoticed. Must you audition? Yes, unless you want to sing at home only.
Shall I take part in a competition? What are my chances? How do I control my nerves? What is the best repertoire? Do I convey the image a successfull performer, a winning attitude? Have I found my vocal fach, my best assets?
So a singer must find a solution to these questions.
Winning can also be seen in the context of winning oneself, not only others. A tip: My friend Cristina Andersson has winning solutions in her book The Winning Helix.
What do we look for in a winning singer? Here is my list:
- great voice with personal timbre
- solid vocal technique
- musicality: sense of rhythm, clean intonation, good legato and phrasing
- total performer package with the look, physique and voice suitable for the part if you sing opera
- posture, poise and control of body movements
- ability to sing with nervousness and in spite of it (that´s a big separate issue!)
- temperament and intelligence to interpret the text
- deep understanding of the character and/or poem
- soulfulness (this is seen in the eyes and face)
- sense of humor, wit and ability to react
- ability to tell a story and engage the audience
Those are the requirements – and even more! And they apply to all performances of course. But if you wonder why you have not been successful so far; check the list honestly and do what you can to be even better!
Picture above: Winner of the Cardiff Singer of the World 2011, soprano Valentina Nafornita from Moldova.
Picture on the right: Tuuli Petäjä, Winner of the 2012 Olympic Silver Medal in Windsurfing, from Finland.