Tomorrow, around 6:15, I’ll walk into the chorus room at Symphony Hall. I’ll smile and turn to the panel of evaluators, and confidently answer their question, “What will you be singing for us?” with “Roger Quilter’s Dream Valley, from Three Songs by William Blake,” and give each of them a copy. I’ll stroll over to the accompanist and hand over another copy, and quietly sing the first two bars to set the tempo. Then I’ll take my place, music-less, and smile as the opening notes remind me of the key. I’ll wiggle my shoulders a little to get comfortable as I tilt my head downwards, opening the back of my throat and keeping my larynx correctly positioned. I’ll remember to breathe from my upper lungs not just my diaphragms for full breaths. And I’ll sing with a knowing smile, while hitting the breaths and phrase shapes and dynamics that I’ve been practicing over the last 4-6 weeks. I’ll put to use the extra coaching I received from a master class and private lesson, and be in the moment.
Once completed, I’ll turn for my music folder and pick up the Finzi excerpt we were asked to prepare. I’ll come in perfectly on time and sing the three minutes of high and low music across several key, tempo, and color changes, with great cutoffs. I’ll finish on my final low note with another smile.
Then I’ll receive one to two sight singing pieces to work through. They’ll be unfamiliar pieces, but straightforward enough in rhythm with some tricky intervals and tonality changes. I won’t get them all right and that’s to be expected while reading a piece, but I’ll do well enough to be pleased.
Finally, I’ll tackle the ear training session, naming intervals, singing middle notes of major and minor chords, picking out 4ths and 6ths from established tonalities. I’ll treat it mentally as a game, just like the app I was using to quiz myself over the last few months.
I write all this down because this is my affirmation to myself. This is the visualization I’ve run through in my head each night and each morning. I can see the room; I can hear myself singing; I can feel the sense of triumph as I finish my solo selection. It’s always been important for me to set goals and to visualize success, and I walk into this re-audition feeling confident and secure. A part of me fears the Dunning-Kruger effect, where less competent people think they’re better than they actually are. But I know how much I don’t know, and how much better people who have studied all their lives are than me. I don’t aspire to be the best. I aspire to be better than I was, and good enough to sing another three years with the Tanglewood Festival Chorus. We will see what tomorrow brings.