Juggling: A Day in the Life of a Singing Mama
Hello everybody! Well. If you know me at all, or if you’ve read some of my last blog posts, you’ll know that one of the most important parts in my life is my family. I have two children, Joshua, who’s six and going into 1st grade (eek!) and Katherine (or Kiki, or Katy), who’s four and has already told my voice teacher that she’s ‘going to be an opera singer when she’s five.’ Lord help us all.
I’ve been very fortunate to be blessed with a husband who, while he doesn’t pursue it now, is a very talented Dramatic tenor in his own right. His patient willingness to listen to me sing for hours on end, support me as I get a Masters degree with two small children, PLUS let us buy a 1902 farmhouse that I dream of renovating in our ‘spare time’, is the only thing that holds me together some days.
Now that you know some very important background info, let’s get into THE JUGGLING ACT.
*this is a sample of a typical day during NYDV’s Virtual Role Prep Program
6am: I’m woken up by a cute, wiggly, warm body pressed up to mine. Nope, it’s not a puppy, it’s my four year old. I try to go back to sleep, but she must tell me the dramatic story of losing her toy cat under her bed. I’m now fully awake and have to go rescue Katy (the cat. Not my daughter.)
7am: After stumbling downstairs and lowering the volume on Curious George, I admire my son’s latest lego creation and pour myself a cup of coffee in an attempt to wake up further.
8am: I start my morning warm-up slowly in the shower, knowing if I try it in the living room, I will be bombarded by the sounds of disappointed children who can no longer hear the television. My husband starts work remotely at 8 (summer hours), and he gets breakfast for the kids while sitting on a barstool and checking his email on the computer in the kitchen. I throw down outfits for the kids from the top of the stairs on my way to my bedroom to get dressed. We threaten the dreaded ‘turn off the television’ if they don’t dress themselves or at least coerce a parent to help them put on pants.
9am: My daughter has been asking since she woke up ‘where are we going today?’, so I put on my mom hat and start googling all fun summer things to do in our area. I finally realize why parents groan when summer is mentioned and I tell my husband for the umpteenth time that I can’t wait until school starts in the fall. I decide to take the kids to the zoo, but tell them it’s going to be a quick trip since mommy has to go to work later and we have to be home well before lunch. Luckily the zoo has a free day for local residents, so we go often enough that we pick three ‘must-see’ animals (snow-leopard, lion and scorpion) and get in the car. If I’m lucky I remember snacks and water bottles for the mom backpack.
10am: We’re at the zoo. My husband can work at home in peace for a little while. We run into friends and it would be nice to slow our pace and hang out with them, but we’re on a schedule. The snow leopard is sleeping, the lion is sleeping and the scorpion has not yet arrived for his zoo exhibit, but we see some nice snakes and glimpse the emu, so all is right with the world.
11am: Somehow we’re back home already. This was the quickest zoo trip in the history of zoo trips. I make a note to try to take them for longer next time. My husband puts lunches together while I change from my mommy clothes to my singer clothes and get ready for an afternoon of coachings and masterclasses. I eat quickly, then go into my newest favorite place to practice; our double height entryway. I continue my warm-up from this morning, this time pulling out music I need to be working on. I just received my repertoire for the Outreach cabaret I’m in this year as part of my grad assistantship at MSU and I want to start getting it in my body. I also am singing for a benefit dinner the week after the program finishes and have to polish my rep for that.
12pm: I’m leaving for campus, where I will be doing my virtual coachings with Mr. Anthony Laciura and Mr. Matthew Lobaugh. I give my kids a hug, tell them to be good for daddy and let him get some work done, then kiss my husband goodbye and tell him thank you for the twentieth time that day. I drive to MSU’s campus, park in the designated parking garage, then load up my gear and head to the music building. Gear you say? I have a full backpack of scores, notebook, planner and computer, along with a carryon suitcase that has my microphone, mic interface, cords and Bluetooth speaker. I also have a mic stand precariously sticking out of the front pocket of the suitcase so I can roll it through campus. It takes about 10-15 minutes to set this up and then I try to relax for a minute before:
1pm: First Coaching of the day! My first coaching today is with Anthony, and we work tirelessly for an hour. I’m learning the role of Elsa in Lohengrin during this program and not only do we work on getting the music into my body, but we also work on the character. Mr. Laciura gives me the stage directions that he would give me if we were putting the show on its feet in person so that I can imagine what it would be like to do the role.
2pm: No rest for the weary! Second coaching now with Matt Lobaugh. Even though I’ve spent the last hour singing the ensemble from the end of act 1, we go back, reinforcing every little detail until I am pretty sure I’ve sung that high Bb 300 times today. It’s definitely needed, though. I have a bad habit of being ‘good’ and not paying attention to the last 5% needed to make it ‘spectacular’. Having outside experienced ears like Mr. Laciura and Mr. Lobaugh is invaluable, helping me to go beyond what I could do myself.
3pm: Hour break! I quickly tear down my equipment and get ready to leave the room. I make sure my mask is in place (MSU has an indoor mask mandate currently, so it’s important once I leave my ‘private space’ to have it on) and walk the ten minutes to my car. I attempt to grab coffee on the way home, but am waylaid by a very chatty stranger outside the parking garage. Oh well, home coffee is good, too, and I text my husband on the way home and ask him if he could make me some. I get home in time to give the kids quick hugs and grab a snack (and a smooch) and run upstairs to my office aka the guest room for:
4pm: Today’s MasterClass! We’re hearing from Kathy Olson from Encompass Arts today. I’m not participating as a singer today, but as an observer and avid question asker (see blog #2), so I can do it from my office at home. It’s always a wonderful experience to learn from Kathy, and I soak up her knowledge, and also enjoy the performances of my fellow singing artists in the program. (Guys, if you’re reading this, you are all INCREDIBLE!! How in the world did I get in this program?) The masterclass runs for about an hour and a half and then, full of inspiration, I write a blog post for NYDV.
6pm: Dinner-time/Cleanup the toy explosion in the living room-time/Bath-time/Bed-time for kids
8pm: Fall on the couch time – Also known as ice-cream time. Also known as, I hope I can read a good chunk of my current book before bed-time. Also known as, amazon prime all the school supplies because school starts the week after the program – time.
10pm: Bed-time for this singing mama to do it all again tomorrow.