What to Pack for the CS Music Convention

What to Pack for the CS Music Convention

It’s almost time for the CS Music Convention! As you prepare for a weekend of singing in the competition, performing in masterclasses, meeting with college recruiters, sharing ideas with colleagues, networking, learning about the industry, and more, let’s eliminate a small source of stress: what to bring with you!

Here are the essentials you’ll need so you can focus on what you love the most: singing!


Obviously, you’ll need your audition outfit. This is what you’ll wear for the competition rounds. You can re-wear it for multiple rounds, especially if you are packing a carry-on only and need to limit what you pack. If you only bring one performance outfit, prepare to change after you sing, and maybe bring a travel size spray bottle of Febreeze—or better yet, a spray bottle with an airplane sized amount of vodka—that’s the trick costume departments use to keep costume fabric fresh between washes.

Standards of dress are more flexible now than ever, so prepare in advance—show us your personality! Make sure you are comfortable and practice in your audition wear before you come to the convention—you don’t want to find out the dress is too restrictive in the shoulders for your breathing or those dress shoes pinch your feet, or the trousers you brought wrinkle so terribly when packed that the hotel iron is hopeless to press them. If you’re comfortable and confident, you’ll look good!



You may want to pack a backup audition outfit. As a serial spiller of tea (literally and, if you catch me at the right time at the convention, figuratively!), I have gotten in the habit of having a backup.

You can use your audition outfit for masterclass performances, especially if your schedule is tight. Or, you can bring a separate, more comfortable outfit for masterclasses. Make sure that what you wear for a masterclass performance is something you can move in, as teachers may ask you to try new things physically. Focus on your comfort and personal style. Remember, hotel conference rooms can be chilly, so bring a sweater or jacket.

Comfy shoes are a must—we aren’t sticklers about dress shoes at the CS Music Convention, especially when you’re running from competition to masterclass to expo hall and more. You’ll be doing a lot of walking, so if you want to compete in shoes that are trendy and comfy for singing but not for walking, wear your sneakers or Birkenstocks, and bring your audition shoes in your tote bag or backpack. You’ll also be glad you have comfy shoes if you take a break and go outside to enjoy some sight-seeing!

Don’t forget pajamas or comfy clothes for relaxing in your room. And underwear and socks! That is where I always overpack—you’d think I was expecting a terrible gastrointestinal accident event every day of travel. It makes me feel more at ease to have an abundance of undies, so if there’s a clothing item you feel compelled to overpack, don’t beat yourself up about it, toss it in the bag, and feel more at ease.


Bring your binder of all of the music you plan to or hope to perform, whether for your competition rounds or masterclasses. Make sure that your copies are clean and clear, and easy for a pianist to read. Check that the bottom system of the score doesn’t have the bass cut off! Your music should be legible with easy page turning. Also, label your pieces so it’s easy to find, and make sure you know where in your folder they go.

It’s worthwhile to have a backup binder or digital copies on your iPad or e-reading device as well. Remember, it’s a holiday weekend. Hotels have business centers, but you don’t want to be sweating and rushing to print music at the last second. In the event that your music gets damaged (note my previous comment about spilling tea), your backups will keep anxiety at bay. Also, there’s a whole lot of other singers, and someone else is likely to have your music should your backup copies get lost by the airline. If you’re in a jam, ask for help! Prepare as much as you can, but allow space for the unexpected.

Make sure to bring a notebook—you’ll want to jot down the gems of wisdom you hear in masterclasses, take any notes, or write down further questions for the representatives of schools you’re interested in. You may exchange contact info with colleagues you meet, and you’ll want to send follow up messages and emails after the convention is over. Keep all that info in one place so that when you get home, it’s easy to go over.



Comfort Items

Let’s face it, conferences can be stressful—and to add to it, you’re competing, too! Bring some comfort items that can make your down time more pleasant. I like to bring my teddy bear, Freddy, as well as a weighted blanket so the hotel room feels more like home. As a tea drinker, I bring a travel kettle and my preferred teas from home—hotels are famously coffee focused. If you’re a coffee snob, maybe bring your pour-over kit. I also bring some of my preferred snacks—it’s easy to put a baggie of trail mix into my purse for the day, and I can make healthier (and less expensive!) snack choices than what is generally available in the hotel shop.

Lastly, as a singer, you should always prepare for the different environment and climate with travel. Bring your array of allergy medications, as well as a personal steamer, and don’t forget the ultimate singer comfort item, a water bottle!

We look forward to seeing and hearing you soon!

Joanie Brittingham

Joanie Brittingham is the Associate Editor for CS Music. She is also a soprano and writer living in New York City. She can be reached at joanie@csmusic.net. Visit her on Instagram and TikTok at @joaniebrittingham.