From the Editor : You Know You’re a Singer When . . .

I recently came across one of those annoying click-bait lists that pervade the Internet and flood your social media feeds. And while I try and remain disciplined in my vow to never read them, in a moment of weakness I succumbed to the temptation and clicked on one on “Eighteen Things Every Singer Understands.” The list was both amusing and thought provoking, as I considered what makes us unique as singers.

Not surprisingly, dominating the list were things about a singer’s health. “The list of things you can’t eat and drink is infinitely longer than the list of things you can eat and drink.” “You’re healthy most of the time, until the day right before a huge performance.” “You freak out when you’re around anyone who is sick.”

This time of year, especially, we do freak out about getting sick! But can you blame us? More than any other musician, we really need our bodies to be well and function properly, since said body is our instrument. When cold season and audition season overlap, singers have good reason for carefully safeguarding their health. Be sure to read Dr. Jahn’s sound advice for staying healthy this winter (p. 56).

While such concern can certainly be considered conventional, we can sometimes worry in excess. And negative thoughts can swirl incessantly in our minds until they become debilitating. Nicholas Pallesen addresses this tendency in this issue in his continued series on performance anxiety. His advice? Calling a spade a spade—or, rather, a pig—can set you free (p. 32).

Also on the list: “You get the overwhelming urge to sing when it’s not acceptable.” Melanie Wade Larsen trained to become a nurse, but during a nearly two-decade career as an RN, she couldn’t stop thinking about her desire to sing. So, against the advice of colleagues who thought she was crazy, but with the needed support of family and close friends, she decided to follow her dream and return to school to become what she really always knew she was: a singer (p. 36).

Bass Kevin Langan, featured in this month’s cover story, has his own list of things singers need to understand (p. 16), a list he has been sharing around the country at Young Artist and summer programs. Langan says he wakes up every morning and the first thing he does is plan out when he will practice for his next gig—and this is after nearly 40 years on the stage! That’s where his heart is and that’s how he says he knows he’s a singer.

Jim Meyer has had a long career with San Francisco Opera, both on stage and behind the scenes on the administrative staff. But at the beginning of his career, with experience in both solo and chorus work, Meyer wondered what kind of singer he really wanted to be. Read how he discovered where his own passion lay and then chose accordingly (p. 48).

Being a singer hopefully also means understanding that singers stick together. The creators of believe this. And that led them to start a dress-sharing Facebook page that has now evolved into a marketplace for female singers to financially and emotionally support each other (p. 40).

How do you know you’re a singer? Because you can’t go anywhere without your 56-ounce water bottle . . . or because you’ve had a noise ordinance filed against you by complaining neighbors . . . or because you own a humidifier for every room in your house.

But also, like those featured in this issue, we know we are singers because classical singing connects us to that which is good, true, and beautiful in us and in the world around us. We need that connection in our lives. It’s who we are.

Sara Thomas

Sara Thomas is editor of Classical Singer magazine. She welcomes your comments.