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I'm in the thick of the Studio application process...reading applications, resumes, teacher recommendations. And this post is subsequently 50% vent, 50% constructive criticism...because there are some folks who look incredibly put together at this tender age, and many who do not. And, when you are only able to hear a third to a fifth of the people who apply for a particular site, the details tend to become more important when you're making those screening decisions.
(And by you? I mean me. Help me out, my friends.)
Here's my advice, with the caveat that I know you've heard it all before...but the fact that you're not actually doing it means that the mistakes do count against you.
- Resume: ONE PAGE. As an undergrad or first year grad, I promise you that you do not have enough relevant info to put on more than one page. And if you feel that you do? Ask a professor or administrator at your school what info you should cut. Because the longer the resume? The more difficult it is for me to figure out what's really important. I'd rather have relevance and white space than the list of part-time summer beach jobs you've held. (We do surprisingly little professional ice-cream scooping during the opera season... tragic, I know.) Full disclosure? My mother was an English teacher with a killer eye and a penchant for red pens. Find yourself a friend who loves to find mistakes. If you don't have one? I'll give you my mom's email...she'll help you out.
- Resume: SPELLING. If you have performed the lead in Tosca, but have it spelled Toska on your resume, I'm going to doubt the legitimacy of your experience. If you misspell a conductor/teacher/coach's name? That's disrespectful...especially if you've asked those folks to speak on your behalf. Also, make sure that your headings are spelled correctly: nothing will make you feel dumber than finally noticing that your resume says "Educaion"after you've handed it out to several professional companies. (Thanks SL for the example!) And if you don't think this applies to you? Send me your resume...I dare you.
- Headshots. I'm a happily married 30-something woman with NO intention of sleeping with any of the people I hire, ever. Don't try to seduce me with your photo: it won't work. Wife beaters, too much cleavage, scary-intense gazes, unhappy photos? Not my thing...I'm trying to hire singers that I can support with time, resources and money; not cable TV stars/fitness models/psychics. Your headshot should telegraph that you're responsible, creative, intelligent, and approachable. (And while environmental shots are awesome, please make sure that the tree branch doesn't look like it's growing out of your head.)
- Applications: please don't fill every field with "See resume." I know it tempting with the amount of applications you're filling out. But it's a shortcut. Moreover, my database makes it hard for me to say yes to you in my first pass if there's no information to parse through...and the second tier is full of good singers who have very similar qualifications. Make it easy for me to say yes to you!
- Recommendations: They are a huge pain in the wazoo, sure. And you likely have to ask for them for multiple projects...some guidelines:
- Ask for a rec from someone who knows your work well and likes it and you (both as an artist and as a person. they're not the same thing).
- Ask your recommender well in advance of the deadline. No one feels charitable when under the gun.
- Provide your recommender with the correct address and addressee for each program AND provide an addressed, stamped envelope.
- If your recommender sends you a generic letter, make sure it's dated, and doesn't address a specific program. Don't recycle it years later in the hope that it'll get you in the door, especially if it's addressed or refers to a competing program...
Industry friends - any additional advice?
Thanks for the vent, all.
- Spice-scented candles.
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- Hub's return. Can't WAIT!