Tuesday, December 9, 2014

The Mentality of Professional vs Amateur

The title needs work.

Professional is not versus Amateur.  It is simply opposite.

There are lots of ways to define both words.  I tend to let those words evolve through behavior, and how you view your work,  how you hear what is being said to you and what you do with that information.

There was a time in my life where I would have spent TONS of time to try to "get through" to a singer/actor only to be completely ignored, or hear from them something that was absolutely not said nor implied.

The longer I work with singers, and am in the business, the more I realize how this truly divides the professional mentality from the amateur one.

I see more and more that what you take from a conversation really determines where you are in the process of becoming or maintaining your professionalism or leaving you simply in amateur-land.

Some people are hard-wired professional.  They simply have the ability to see a larger arc,  and know what they need and who they need to ask to get the information in order to develop a career, and a more importantly,  a way of preparing to create a career.  They grow,  they are willing to be accessible,  they listen and hear the full extent of a conversation and then are able to hone in how that affects them specifically and what they must do to grow and develop.

The amateur is probably hard-wired too.  The amateur isn't just about not knowing.  Their hearing is suspect;  their ability to translate is limited;  they find ways to hide, to make excuses and to fixate on one or two things to create a narrative that keeps them safe.

Again, there are many ways to define professionalism and amateurism.  I am speaking about mindset and what could be hard-wired,  versus what could be potential untapped but has the ability to grow and become.

If potential isn't realized,  it's amateur.  It's okay to be amateur as one is developing potential.  It's okay to be amateur even if you don't develop potential.  It is finding one's level that is crucial in all of this.   Amateurs can think they are ready for the deep water,  but the only ones they are kidding are themselves.  Professionals can be in an amateur environment and still find success with others who are like minded and grow.

I see the amateur mindset so often in the development of the vocal instrument.  That instrument is ALWAYS growing and changing.  It needs constant and CONSISTENT attention.  Hard-wired amateurs don't see that need or dismiss it,  and actually say it's good enough.  Professional mind-sets always find a way to keep studying and keep growing.

Professional mindsets ask questions.  They keep the options open and never tie it up with a bow.  They know there is more and they are constantly striving for more craft, more knowledge, more understanding.

Amateur mindsets set up small pockets of fixation.  They only hear what they are able to.  There is not an initiative to truly find more of what is needed, but rather, excuses of what they think is enough.

Professional mindsets often have more questions than answers.

Amateur mindsets find quick answers so they don't need to ask more questions.

Professional mindsets don't make excuses, or hide behind tired humor or excuses or look for sympathy.

Amateur mindsets find the excuses to keep them exactly where they are.  They can be told EXACTLY what is needed, and simply do not hear it,  or choose not to hear it. 

Professional mindsets require challenge and want to know what they need to do.

Amateur mindsets want no conflict and want to be told they are wonderful.

And guess what?  It's okay to be an amateur.  Just don't pretend it's okay to bring the amateur mindset into the professional arena and wonder why nobody is giving you the time of day.

Every singer that walks through my door will be made to feel safe.  They will also be challenged to find their best self.  They will be encouraged, and applauded when they leave better than their previous self.  The professional mindset will realize leaving better than their previous self means there is still work to do.  The amateur mindset will think they are "ready". 

The professional mindset will listen and HEAR.  The amateur mindset will only hear and translate what they are able to, and may even misunderstand.

These are the hard-wired mindsets.

If you really really want to move from amateur to professional in your mind-set you really really REALLY have to work to hear what you need,  by the people who know - and not interrupt.  There are no "yeah, but..."  in a professional mindset.  None.

Learn to ask the right questions, and if you don't know the questions to ask,  ask THAT question.  If you take the time ask,  expect an answer,  and then it is up to YOU,  to discover what the answer reveals for you.  Often, it's not comfortable.  There is nothing comfortable with self-examination.  We learn how to accept the reality and work with it,  or dodge it and remain in that amateur mindset.

Better is simply,  better.

Progress is simply,  progress.

Potential is simply,  potential.

Realizing,  developing and claiming gives us the opportunity to find the changes, makes the changes and live the changes.

Your mindset is up to you.  Claim it.

Monday, December 8, 2014

A Video Chat with Creative Social Media!

I am working on a new aspect of the blog:


The first will be with Founder and CEO of Creative Social Media,  Tony Howell.

As artists we often have a love/hate relationship with social media and our online presence, but it is NECESSARY to keep our work out there in a very clear and current way!

Tony will demystify this for us as only he can and give you great ideas and tools and specifics to keep creating while using social media and the internet!

I want YOUR questions - so add them in the comments section below, or email me susaneichhornstudio@gmail.com - so I can ask Tony on your behalf.

Watch for our chat SOON!

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Finding Your Niche

Sunday musings...at the end of November...

Are you finding your niche?  Where you can inhabit?

There are so many factors in our lives as artists.

Some are artists.

Some have artistic temperaments.

Some are performers.

Some are artists who perform.

Some are craftspeople.

Some are process people.

Some are a quick bolt of lightening.

Some are a slow burn.

Finding out WHAT you are,  and then WHERE you are reveals even more,  and can be thoroughly exhausting and confusing.

We fight the constant "in the box" mentality to allow our artistic individuality to be allowed to breathe.  We need to do that if we want to find authenticity as an artist.

However, then there's the business of show.  If we want to work,  make a living or some semblance,  are we ready to go where our talent takes us?  And how do we know not just how we WISH to be seen, but how we ARE being seen?

I see the frustration.  I've experienced it.

As I get older,  I have decided not to succumb to the box,  but rather, enjoy the process of creating MY OWN.

And I don't want a box,  I want a niche.  It allows for my uniqueness to be displayed as opposed to being put away. 

As a performer,  you want your uniqueness remembered.  You want to be in the minds of someone who is casting who sees you clearly.

Here's the catch:  the only way they see you clearly is if YOU see you clearly.

If something doesn't add up,  it's too much time and effort to riddle it out,  and your head shot and resume are placed unceremoniously in THAT OTHER PILE.

You, the artist, You, the performer,  must discover what makes you unique, where your niche will be, and occupy that space!

Get creative with it.  Come on!  You say you are an artist,  so BE one!  Create!  Create yourself!

Don't get caught in the regular,  boring, non-descriptive adjectives.

Carve out a place for yourself!

How aware of yourself are you?

Time to ask the hard questions of yourself, and people you trust that can keep it real.  This doesn't need to hurt, but rather invigorate you to discover what space you can truly call yours!!

There are so many people trying to work in this business,  Music Theatre, Theatre, Film, TV, Opera - all of which have their own specificities and quirks.

There is always going to be someone better than you,  hungrier than you,  more determined than you.

So what makes YOU the best YOU, the most unique YOU,  the most qualified YOU?

The pieces of the puzzle don't have to fit in a "traditional" way - sometimes the "quirks" we find that don't seem to fit can end up becoming the recognized niche we need.

Are you ready for that?

So much of the time we are constantly trying to CHANGE something.  If only I had...If only I could do...If only...one day...

What about saying the square peg does belong in the round hole and this is how it works?

And claim it.  And demonstrate it.  Show us.  Create the niche.

What are your personality quirks? What makes you YOU?  Ask the people that love being around what they love about you.  Also ask them what drives them NUTS.

What are your physical attributes?  Don't value judge!  They are all real.  If you think perfect physical specimens are the only ones working,  (whatever THAT means) you are mistaken!!!  You are a perfect physical specimen for a role if you embody the niche you say you do and it works!

What can you emphasize about your energy?  Do you know what your energy reveals?  Are there differences in that energy when you are with your friends?  Your family?  Business people?  In an audition room?  In a class?   What happens?  What changes?  What can you use????

Does your voice match your body?  Do you have options?  What are they?

What can do you to still be true to your physical self and your vocal self at the same time?

You are only stuck if you decide to be.

If you feel stuck,  guess what?  That's what "they" get in the room:  This person doesn't know what they want us to see;  they don't know who they are;  next!

So often, we think we must de-emphasize something.  What if we were to really emphasize that quirk, so-called oddity,  interesting quality,  fascinating tic?   What niche could you occupy and thereby, inhabit, within the business?

Okay, I hear the question now:  but if I try to get too specific, doesn't that limit my ability to get hired?

And I answer:  Generic is generic.  There is tons of generic out there.  How does one differentiate? If you find your specificity,  then you focus on working in THAT niche.  The work could be constant frankly,  because you would be filling a niche that is uniquely you.

Type, Fach, Hit - whatever you use to "define" is there as a guideline.  The basic description is generic.  YOU define your niche by what you bring and how you hone and how you reveal.

Get creative with it! 

As an example:
We are all a little quirky.  What are your specific quirks?  Quirky how?  Describe your descriptives!!!

Find the roles that would fit YOU as you occupy and inhabit your niche.

Decide where in the business that takes you....you might be surprised as to how much possible work there is,  if you decide to focus in instead of get frustrated with a generality.

Happy discovery!

Friday, November 28, 2014

Looking for a Summer Music Theatre Experience?

I am thrilled to be a part of Music Theatre on the Thames this summer 2015!

Are you looking for a unique music theatre experience in a great locale?  Check it out!

I will be there as a specialist,  offering my Authentic Voice workshops and a public Master Class.

Check out the Co-Artistic Directors in candid chat on youtube here.

Hope to see you there!