I tell all singers who walk into my studio, there are no stupid questions. I want them to feel comfortable to ask and not edit. Often, when we "assume" something is when we miss an important piece of the puzzle!
That is in the studio...and I adhere to that...no stupid questions...I truly believe that.
Out in the world, one needs to readjust!!!
As an adjudicator, as a music consultant, I have been sent/seen/asked some, ehem, interesting questions. Questions, that just don't seem to be thoughtful.
When you are applying for a competition, making an appointment for an audition, filling in an application for a position or school...what has happened to READING AND DOING WHAT IT ASKS?
This, sadly, speaks more volumes that your voice ever will.
If the "rules" say, "do not exceed the time limit of 20 minutes" - do not email and ask for clarification!
Rules/regulations, guidelines, et al should be adhered to and if you DO have questions, discuss it with your teacher, your pianist, other singers who have done that competition/festival etc. Do not send the question initially to the consultant, adjudicator, organization!
READ carefully. ACKNOWLEDGE carefully. Do not get "creative" with guidelines. Do not "assume". If it's not clear, go through the rank and file! Most times, things are pretty straight forward, and if you are confused, having a teacher or pianist read it and give their input is the first step! If they are confused, perhaps, then you can ask for clarification.
Sadly, if your question is answered by your question "I am wondering what 'do not exceed the time limit of 20 minutes' means exactly 20 minutes or if I can be under 20 minutes?" then PLEASE do not enquire to the organization!!!
Why? You look like an idiot. Seriously!!! You have already "marked" yourself. Sad but true.
If the competition says "art song", sing an art song. If you don't know what an art song is, talk with your teacher, do not email the competition!!!! (If you don't know what an art song is, perhaps you shouldn't be entering the competition...but I digress...)
I have seen queries as to whether one can sing a duet as a solo for the "opera aria" category.
I have seen queries as to whether all the music should be memorized, when it clearly states: "the program shall not be changed and must be sung by memory".
I have been asked if the singer can sing their aria in English even though they have picked Mozart and the rule clearly states: "ORIGINAL language is required for each song/aria."
READ THE GUIDELINES.
READ THEM CAREFULLY.
READ THEM SLOWLY.
HIGHLIGHT THEM IF NECESSARY.
MAKE NOTES. WRITE DOWN IDEAS. DOUBLE CHECK. TRIPLE CHECK. Get someone ELSE to check again for you to make sure you haven't missed something.
Why is this happening?
Have we become so spoon fed that we cannot comprehend some basic guidelines?
Follow the bouncing ball...it is NOT rocket science. If you say you can sing well enough to sing in a foreign language, you certainly must have the intelligence to follow 1, 2, 3.!!!
YOU are responsible for following the guidelines. Someone else on the receiving end of your application is not responsible for "cleaning it up". If it is incorrect, wrong or not what is asked for, or incomplete, you should be penalized for that. Simply that.
You miss a deadline - you miss a deadline. Why should you be granted extra time because you forgot? You didn't see a deadline? You weren't 'sure' about the deadline? (even though it was stated at the bottom of each page in BOLD)
You don't have the required repertoire? You simply don't apply. You don't ask the rules to be changed for you!
You are offering up your reputation! Your reputation truly proceeds you! It reveals much more about you than you might realize, and sadly, can be lurking for a VERY VERY long time.
ASK YOUR TEACHER and/or YOUR PIANIST.
CHECK and DOUBLE CHECK before submitting.
ARE ALL THE REQUIREMENTS COVERED?
HAVE YOU INCLUDED WHAT HAS BEEN ASKED OF YOU?
Are you clear about all rules and guidelines and deadlines and expectations?
YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR THIS.
As a singer, you represent yourself. How you ask, what you ask, what you seem to know, what you seem to NOT know, within a business arena, is how your reputation is built - positive AND negative.
If your questions are obvious, people wonder. If your questions are ridiculous, or plain stupid vis a vis, as it pertains to VOCAL REPERTOIRE, people talk.
KNOW WHAT YOU ARE ASKING. If it is clear in statement, don't ask for clarification!
LEARN HOW TO READ AND UNDERSTAND.
This is part of being your "business" as a singer.
If I am on a panel, am an adjudicator, etc - I cannot take your "art" seriously, if you don't seem to have a clue about following directions.
Take your time and READ THROUGH THINGS CAREFULLY.
There are no reasons for stupid questions. None. Not when it comes to this.
If you call yourself a singer, BE ONE in ALL aspects of your business.
REAL SINGERS ARE NOT DUMB!! We are bright, authentic, and comprehend well. We can read and follow instructions. We do not have to behave badly to get attention. We can be generous and forthcoming, we can understand and do the work. We do not need special attention.
We are not stupid. So don't be.