This is part of CS Music’s ongoing “Influencers of Singings” series. If you have questions you would like submitted or influencers to recommend, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
7 Questions with Dr. Robert Mirshak,
President and Owner Mirshak Artists Management
CS MUSIC Question 1: What’s the best piece of advice you’ve either received or given to a singer?
Robert Mirshak: Have a reason to perform. We sing because we love it; but we also have a reason for doing it. If we are thinking about our technique and all the things we learn when we study, it doesn’t mean anything to us. We pay $200 or more for a ticket as audience members to be touched and as singers we have to remember there is a reason for music and the songs we sing, the roles we play. Intention or a reason to perform is the most important thing. Move me!
CS MUSIC Question 2: What are the worst audition mistakes you’ve seen?
Robert Mirshak: One of the biggest mistake singers make is singing repertoire not appropriate for them to sing. Too dramatic for their voice, too soon, too often.
Not being kind to everyone is another big mistake. That includes being kind to those taking your materials at the door, the pianist, not saying hello to the people you are singing for. I have found that half the people who have walked through the door don’t even say hello to me. I don’t care how great they sound, if they aren’t going to be a good person what do you want them for?
CS Music: After a long day of listening to a lot of singers audition, have you ever had any of them thank you for listening to them?
Robert Mirshak: Yes, a rare few, but they are the ones I remember. It’s the connection we have with each other that we remember, not always the performance. For example: If you want to give a resume to someone you want a job with, you ask them how they are doing and make that connection. Similar to an audition, after you sing you thank them for their time and wish them the best.
CS Music: At an audition, have you ever listened to a singer who started their song by completely messing it up but then they turned around, gathered themselves and knock it out of the park?
Robert Mirshak: Yes, all the time! Mistakes are going to happen. But do you have the mindset of getting through tough starts and mistakes? For example, once a pianist’s music all fell on the floor, but the singer just kept singing as if nothing had happened. The pianist gather the music and found where the singer was an joined in. They even ended together nearly on key. It was impressive. I’ve also had the opposite where something happened and the singer turned to the pianist after a mistake and scowled at them. The singer fell apart. We have to remember that mistakes will happen. I would rather a singer makes 16 mistakes but they make me feel something. I don’t want to be bored; I want to feel something. I can hear someone in the Bronx sing Amazing Grace and I walk away crying. Or I can go hear an opera singer, well trained, and come away feeling nothing! What’s the point?!
CS MUSIC Question 3: Let’s say I just got out of school with a bachelor degree in vocal performance. I’ve been auditioning and I’ve been doing competitions, but I’ve not been able to land any A,B,C, or D role. I’ve been doing some small paying community theater. My big question is, what singing jobs should I do or should I pull out and wait for the big roles?”
Robert Mirshak: I would sing and get to know the company. I would offer to cover the leading roles for a big company. It’s a great way to get to know people at that company. If they like you and think you are doing a good job then maybe they will hire you for a better role next time. But work is work. You take the work and next time you can make the decision to do so or not. But if you don’t have any other offers then sing those smaller roles. People make a living performing smaller roles. Someone has to sing the them.
CS Music: What about work outside of the theater?
Robert Mirshak: Yes, Just sing! I use to put together my own operas. If you want to learn the role just put some people together and put them on in a church, give a free-will donation, give the company a name and now you have experience!
CS Music: What about singing in restaurants and conventions where maybe your not singing the repertoire you like but it’s what the people want to hear?
Robert Mirshak: Stuff people want to hear is what moves them. Yes, they may want to hear stuff they know. But if you want a career in singing you need to be singing somewhere to someone! You need to be careful in a restaurant where it’s loud and people may not be listening. But conventions for sure; churches for sure. Senior homes or places where you don’t have to worry about technique, just feeling the songs, for sure! Even sing for kids and get their attention.
CS MUSIC Question 4: This from a singer: “I’m over 35 and have never had a A,B or C role. Should I hang it up or do people over 35 actually have a chance?”
Robert Mirshak: I don’t care how old you are. If you sing well and are a good person why not go for it? For me opera singing is an olympic event especially if you have a dramatic voice. It takes longer. However, there may be a reason you aren’t making a living. Is there something going on there? Are you singing the right repertoire, singing with the right coach, or is it time to really look at yourself and decide if you really have the chops to sing at the Metropolitan Opera? What makes you really happy? To me you should sing the same way you sing for the senior center as you do for the Metropolitan Opera. So what difference does it makes? Of course we all want to make money but If you’re moving people and making a difference in people then does money really matter?
CS MUSIC Question 5: On singer’s resumes, the debate has been, do I put dates or just what I’ve done?
Robert Mirshak: You’re not fooling anyone if you don’t put dates. I will ask you why you don’t have dates. You better have a good reason. It might because you had a child or had to take time off to care for someone and that’s fine. But if you are singing for companies you do need to have an answer. It doesn’t ever help you to lie or stretch the truth. We get it a lot and it’s painfully obvious if they are trying to stretch the truth.
CS MUSIC Question 6: Realistically how many paid roles are there at A,B,C or D houses each year?
Robert Mirshak: There are a lot world wide. Some companies in the USA are contracting. In Asia they are expanding. Companies in Italy and Spain are coming back. Has the music business been down, certainly. It’s always cyclical. Does the world need music now? Yes, they need it more than ever.
CS MUSIC: How much can a singer expect to get paid a year in B and C houses regularly. What kind of living can they expect to make.
Robert Mirshak: $150, 000 – $200,000 a year possibly?
CS MUSIC Question 7:How do I get you to manage me?
Robert Mirshak: Move me. Make me feel something. Make me laugh and cry. Be unique. Don’t be the recording.
CS MUSIC: How do I get to you physically?
Robert Mirshak: My email is on my website. www.mirshakartists.com
CS MUSIC: Do I send you my recording?
Robert Mirshak: Send me your website and I’ll click on your recordings. Make sure your first few seconds are outstanding as I’ll know real quick if I like you.