8.17.2009

8.17.09 part 1

Work-related post below. Feel free to skip to the five at the end!

My colleagues and I are proponents of technology. We have iPhones and laptops. We Tweet. We share book recommendations on Goodreads and pictures on Facebook and Flickr. We moved both our application process and contract process online to save more trees and to suit the highly movable lifestyles of our core constituents. We instant message between offices, because often we're separated by hundreds of miles but are trying to work together. We keep extensive databases of applicants, auditionees, past repertoire, volunteers...you name it and we've got a file on it somewhere on our shared drive.

(And believe me, you've not lived until you've read unfiltered audition comments from your own audition several years after the fact.)

We also do some of these things in the audition room.

There's been a recent smattering of opinions regarding appropriate behavior in the audition room with specific regards to technology. And while maybe I shouldn't join the fray, I'm wading in...be gentle, please.

Firstly, technology is vital to our particular process. Yes, we're typing on our laptops, but most often the typing will begin after we've at least said hello. We're a friendly bunch, and we're very sensitive to the fact that the singer who just walked into the room demands our full attention. He is, after all, our whole reason for traipsing all over the country. Along those same lines, we need to find ways to remember who you are. If you're the seventh soprano of the day, and the third who decided to start with "Quando m'en vo" we'll need to differentiate you from the red-dress Musetta from the morning and the Musetta who brought her own accompanist. So the database is our collective brain: it tells us who you are, what you sang for us last year, and allows us to track your progress over the past year. We record snippets of your auditions so that we can listen and refer back while the repertoire puzzle is sorting itself out, so that we don't lose track of contenders or possibilities. The computers allow us to keep our information straight, to keep legible, detailed records (I took notes longhand in Cincinnati one year when my laptop died...by the end of the day my notes were only 5-10 words long, even in the instance the singer warranted many more descriptors. Cramped writing hand=economy of vocabulary.) of every singer who walks through the door. Sometimes we'll use messenger to come to an agreement for your second aria, so that we're not fumbling through a decision when we could be listening to you sing. (Ok, I occasionally comment on the awesome pair of shoes that you wore into the room. You caught me. I'm a bit of a shoe whore.)

Secondly, not all people who use technology to streamline their processes are doing it to the detriment of the singers. We've been in auditions on the performer's side of the table. We know how nerve-wracking it can be. And we believe in both the sanctity of the audition and in being decent folks...while we certainly can't hire everyone we hear, we can give them our full attention in the audition room and treat them kindly. Frankly, it's what I would want - what I did want - when I was on the other side of the table. If I wanted everyone to know what the casting director thought of my performance, I would've been auditioning for American Idol, right?

So if you sing for us, know that we will have laptops in the room. And that we'll be rooting for you to knock our socks off.

Rooting for, not Tweeting about.

My five:
  1. Excuses for sitting on the couch.
  2. Excitement.
  3. Air conditioning.
  4. Getting lost on purpose.
  5. Organization.

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