First Year out of Education

November 24, 2019 — 68 Comments

This week I have had some time to reflect on my near year and a half since I left six years of conservatoire education. I also set some goals for the future and caught up with some household chores! It reminded me that I was recently asked, by my friend Ruth Hallows, to participate in a graduate interview for her blog. Ruth is a cellist, who also studied at the Royal College of Music. We met at a Freshers event which I recall as being a Wine and Cheese night, we both lived in the student halls and quickly became great friends.

The main focus of the interview was to give insight to newly graduating students on how I have navigated through my first year after achieving my master’s degree. I wanted to be honest, but I didn’t want to discourage people. It has been a challenging year but I try to look for the positives and for solutions to problems. In my profession, one encounters a considerable amount of rejection and like all musicians, I am constantly working on my craft and identifying areas for improvement. It takes a lot of personal strength and the support of family and close friends. A quote that motivates me and which is attributed to Winston Churchill:

“Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.”

I think this would be my main advice to anybody transitioning to a new phase in life, or in fact just working hard on your chosen path.  As Dory said in the Disney Film Finding Nemo: “Just keep swimming.” Stay focused on your goal and work hard. Acknowledge your weaknesses and practice with scrutiny to better them.

I have included below what I sent to Ruth in response to her questions. I hope that you find it helpful or interesting to read. If it sparks any questions please don’t hesitate to comment and ask.

My first year after graduating with a Master of Performance (Voice) from the Royal College of Music in July 2018 has been a bit of a whirlwind. I have sung in nine operatic productions, performed recitals alongside my duo partner George Todica and entered competitions within the UK, Ireland and South Korea.

The first week after graduating I was thrilled when I won the ‘Pendine International Voice of the Future’ at the Llangollen International Eisteddfod. This prize gave me some breathing space for a couple of months and the opportunity to travel to competitions. Following this achievement as part of my prize I was asked to sing alongside Rolando Villazon and Rhian Lois in Llangollen International Eisteddfod’s Opera Gala in July 2019.

What did you find particularly challenging?

After finishing studies, I found a few things challenging. Whilst studying I lived in the Halls of Residence and I missed the daily close and regular contact with other musicians that this provided and the availability of soundproofed practice spaces with pianos. Living with non-musicians in a shared home (so that I could afford to stay in London) doesn’t work when you have a 09:00 audition on a Saturday morning and you need to warm-up. My coaching and singing lessons became less frequent than I like and the opportunities to create video recordings when you need them disappear.

Was there anything you found you were particularly strong at?

Picking myself up and remaining positive. I try to blog weekly which helps me to remember that even the smallest achievement or recalling how I have relaxed with friends and family in my downtime is worth celebrating. I have a great support network; who I know I can turn to when I need advice and encouragement, including my very generous blog friends. For this, I will be continually grateful. I just haven’t had enough time to read blogs that I like as the professional work takes up such a lot of time to prepare to be ready for short rehearsals, so I hope that you forgive me if I’ve not been able to visit you all as often as I like.

 “There is more honour in defeat than in unused potential.”

What is your top tip for people in their first year out who may be hitting a wall?

There are lots of occasions where your confidence will be knocked and lots of rejections. You may question your dreams and whether you are talented enough to achieve your hopes. The best advice I received was not to measure my current success on my ambitions but on smaller goals that I could control. Such as learning a particular aria or role. I found this far more motivating and it kept me positive during quieter months. Also, don’t feel like you are failing if you have to take on other work to cover your bills. A forward diary of empty spaces is simply opportunities that have not yet been fulfilled.

68 responses to First Year out of Education

  1. 

    I’ve often thought how hard it must be to be a very talented musician. You’re miles better than most people, but you’re in a rarefied atmosphere where you’re up against the very few others who are also miles better than anyone else, all competing for the same limited opportunities. It takes a lot of character, which you seem to have.

    • 
      Charlotte Hoather November 24, 2019 at 9:03 pm

      This is a perfect comment. So many talented musicians from all around the world, so few well paid opportunities. It’s a catch 22 you can’t sing on the main stages until people have faith you have the ability and how can you prove that without the opportunities to show it. There are a lot of great sopranos out there. Trying to stay busy and pay the bills doing what I love.

      All my best wishes
      Charlotte

  2. 

    You are impressively resilient and have inner confidence Charlotte.

    • 
      Charlotte Hoather November 24, 2019 at 9:05 pm

      Thank you Cindy, resilient is a high compliment, it’s something I have to continually remind myself to be 😀.
      Best wishes
      Charlotte

  3. 

    I am so impressed with how you grew up, and maintained your direction. You would be a success in whatever your endeavor!!

    • 
      Charlotte Hoather November 24, 2019 at 9:06 pm

      Aww GP I can depend on you to give me a lift. I am quite determined and this is my passion. I tried to turn my hand to many things to keep my head above water.
      All my best wishes
      Charlotte

  4. 

    I’ve found when I was in hell in my life on 2 occasions that the way out was equidistant no matter which direction I took…. so forward worked each time 🦉🦉
    You’ve gotten me to revisit Shakespeare. It was only 5 steps forward in the shelf where it has been for years.
    Thanks.

  5. 

    What an encouraging post, dear Charlotte! I think it might be useful for other your young colleagues! Success is a hard job! (As a designer I comprehend you very well. )
    You are on the way & you will make it!
    Best wishes,
    Maria 🙂 🙂 🙂

    • 
      Charlotte Hoather November 24, 2019 at 9:11 pm

      Ahh thanks for your confidence Maria, you’ve just got to keep applying and put yourself up for things that sometimes seem impossible, I take my craft seriously but not myself.
      All my best wishes
      Charlotte

      • 

        I fully agree with you. I do the same! The most important is the way itself, but not the final goal. As only while passing it, we obtain all necessary qualities & comprehend what & how we must act to follow our predestination. So, keep up going! 🙂 🙂 🙂
        Have a nice inspirational week!
        Best wishes,
        Maria

      • 
        Charlotte Hoather November 24, 2019 at 9:30 pm

        Thank you Maria, I draw inspiration from so many things you are quite right. I hope this is predestined but it’s not going to stop me trying or working for it.
        Best wishes again my friend,
        Charlotte

      • 

        !!!!! Well-said, dear Charlotte! You are welcome! 🙂

  6. 

    Great talent and a great attitude. We’ll say we remember you when.

  7. 

    You are an inspiration to those who want to follow their passion. Good on ya, Charlotte.

  8. 

    That’s wonderful you have been able move forward and be successful. I can image how much trouble living without music spaces with non-music people could be. You have a wonderful attitude and you are destined for a brilliant future.

    • 
      Charlotte Hoather November 27, 2019 at 10:43 pm

      Thank you, Timothy. What get’s difficult without an agent is lining up more work whilst you are working away from base. I couldn’t attend two auditions I was invited to and when you’re outside of the system you don’t hear about some auditions. My Mum says a bit of thinking time is a good thing to fit in the new songs and arias I wished I’d had time to learn this year and maybe record a new album, it has been four years since I last had the time to do that.

      All my best wishes
      Charlotte

      • 

        There’s never enough time. I was looking at your discography on your site. Down the Rabbit Hole post is wonderful. Really excellent photos. WordPress weirds out on me when I go to posts outside the reader and does not allow me to comment directly on blogs. It’s really annoying.

      • 
        Charlotte Hoather December 1, 2019 at 9:58 pm

        I love that little recital, I’ve performed it a couple of times and it goes down well. I worked on an underground section in French songs but I never finished it. Yeah I get frozen out on WP too.
        Best wishes
        Charlotte

  9. 

    Anything and everything you set out to do you do with 100% commitment and enthusiasm. Over the years I’ve known you I have seen you go from strength to strength in all you do. You never quit or give up but continue striving to do your best, so proud of you and everything you’ve achieved. Well done my friend 😘🥰

    • 
      Charlotte Hoather November 27, 2019 at 10:43 pm

      Aw Gill I can always rely on you for positive thinking. I’m working hard at the moment on my Christmas Elf score, it’s really lovely music tricky but a super nice story.

      All my best wishes
      Charlotte

  10. 

    Good evening Charlotte,
    I admire your endurance and how you try to motivate yourself and keep looking ahead.
    In German there is the saying: “It is no shame to fall when you get up again afterwards”.
    A few months ago there was an article in the German weekly newspaper “Zeit” about young artists in the opera business and the article described how young artists work under which conditions, where and how.
    And I have to say, I admire the way you went.
    Here in Stuttgart there is currently a discussion whether to renovate the old State Opera or to build a new one. It looks more like a new building (it is currently under discussion and will probably cost hundreds of millions of Euros). You can see from this that they are quite willing to invest in this area and for this you need singers and stage technicians etc..
    Looking back this year was like a roller coaster for me. Professionally it was and is very stressful for me (I haven’t forgotten the flight to the North of England yet, but if I have it in the next weeks I will allow myself it and I want to enjoy it). No matter how turbulent it is you should never lose the sight on your goal.
    The same applies to me also in the private one. I would like to close an important chapter for me this year. Here I try after the slogan: “Do good the you good well and forget the rest”. Life is just no wish concert, but beautiful.
    Best regards
    Arndt

    • 
      Charlotte Hoather November 27, 2019 at 10:44 pm

      Thank you, Arndt for your lovely message. There a quite a few opera singers from the UK living in Germany because of the better opportunities as you have many more opera houses. It is good to read the arts are still important in Germany and getting support.
      I’m sorry to read you have had a stressful time professionally and hope you that this is a straight successful path now into the new year. Freelance careers for any discipline are always insecure unless you manage to obtain a long term contract it is going to be an interesting year 2020.

      All my best wishes,
      Charlotte

  11. 

    Thank you for inspiring me with your candor, enthusiasm and strength. The quotes brought tears to my eyes as I have been seeing much of what I have attempting to accomplish as failure to accomplish. I do have enthusiasm and as long as I have that, I am a success and shall have even greater success! Go ME! and GO YOU!

    • 
      Charlotte Hoather November 27, 2019 at 10:45 pm

      Go you! And Go me! Love it. People only see the top of the swan floating along they don’t see the feet frantically pedaling under the surface to move forward. I met up with two friends from school I hadn’t seen for a while and we chuckled that they’d forgotten how optimistic I am about everything always seeing glasses half full.

      All my best wishes
      Charlotte

  12. 

    Like Cindy said, you are resilient. And that smile is as radiant as ever. It’s wonderful when you become friends with someone immediately.

  13. 

    Congratulations on your award this year. How exciting. Your positive attitude is inspiring.

    • 
      Charlotte Hoather November 27, 2019 at 10:46 pm

      Thank you 😊. Its very easy in a job where you don’t know where your next work is coming from to get down about it, lots of people give up for this very reason. I understand both enthusiastic optimism and stability requiring pessimism.

      Best wishes
      Charlotte

  14. 

    Hi Charlotte,

    Congratulations upon your graduation. If I were to offer any sage advice for the next five years, I would say: condition your voice with Ginger Tea, look to work with conductors who can strengthen and develop your voice, as well concentrate on competitions where you might be able to meet with agents to secure management representation.

    Best of luck!
    Lynne J. Glendenning

    • 
      Charlotte Hoather November 27, 2019 at 10:47 pm

      Great advice Lynne, I like ginger tea and I also have a blend of Chinese tea that is good for the voice. I have worked with some great conductors this past year and whilst studying I totally agree with you, thank you.

      Best wishes
      Charlotte

  15. 

    Charlotte, you are a inspiration to so many people, in everything you do and say. Congratulations on last years achievement’s.
    Lots of luck for the next year to come, and for The Christmas Elf..

    • 
      Charlotte Hoather November 27, 2019 at 10:47 pm

      The Christmas Elf is lovely, I’m really enjoying working on the score. I’ve had a super busy year but the result of that is no time to audition for next year! Watch this space 😊

      All my best wishes
      Charlotte

  16. 

    Being successful is hard! It’s especially hard, as you noted, when your environment changes.
    I can tell you it is very motivational to hear someone like you making it work!
    I got my first book – Misfit Mage – out in Ebook this past April. I just got it converted into paperback and it should show up on Amazon soon. I’m also working with an audio producer to turn it into an Ebook.
    Meanwhile, I’m working on book 2. I really thought finishing the first book would be the hardest and they would get easier after that. This hasn’t been the case for me. It’s been hard to get into the writing rhythm again. I think when I finish book 2 – this time I won’t stop. I’ll just keep going on book 3 and hopefully some writing momentum will flow with it.
    Anyway – Keep on going from Failure to Failure with lots of enthusiasm – and I will do the same.
    : ) Michael

    • 
      Charlotte Hoather November 27, 2019 at 10:48 pm

      It’s great to hear your progress with your book Michael well done, go You! I listen to E books on the train and tube sometimes reading in motion makes me feel motion sickness so it’s a good way to pass the time.
      I like the momentum of moving from one project to another, even though at the time it’s quite high pressure but I’m also looking forward to having a bit of time to learn new material and get some intensive lessons in.
      Keep on keeping on 😊

      All my best wishes
      Charlotte

  17. 

    Charlotte, nothing that matters in life comes without overcoming defeat. I loved the quotes you used and here’s one to add to your collection. The great tennis player Stan Wawrinka has a tattoo on his left arm that I have found inspirational:
    Ever tried, ever failed. No matter.
    Try again, fail again. Fail better.
    Best wishes for a few more victories in 2020. You will get there.

    • 
      Charlotte Hoather November 27, 2019 at 10:48 pm

      I agree Sheila, I’m grateful to my parents that they trained me in administration, accounts and telephone sales too 😊. I might just get some time to create some videos or a new album too.

      Best wishes
      Charlotte

  18. 

    Dear Charlotte,
    It is a pleasure to say that you are a massive success. Winston Churchill also said” never, never, never give up” and that is why you are so successful at what you do. May the Lord bless you to continue your fabulous career my Beloved.

    • 
      Charlotte Hoather November 27, 2019 at 10:49 pm

      I don’t know about massive success, but I’ve had a lovely busy year. On to Chapter 2. Thank you for your blessings.

      All my best wishes
      Charlotte

  19. 

    A wonderful interview with sound advice, not only for musicians, but for anyone following their dreams, Charlotte! Congratulations to you on your success in music, and more to come. You are talented, and good-hearted, too.

    • 
      Charlotte Hoather November 27, 2019 at 10:49 pm

      Thank you for your lovely message Lavinia, here’s to 2020. Practice, Patience and Persistence.

      All my best wishes
      Charlotte

  20. 

    I love your positive outlook and hope that your career keeps taking you to where you want to be xx

  21. 

    “The best advice I received was not to measure my current success on my ambitions but on smaller goals that I could control.”
    Such good advice – thanks for passing it along. And all the best for your current and future successes!

  22. 

    I think that is your best Quality: an infectious enthusiasm for your Profession. Not everyone has that, though many have Talent. ..but not everyone can draw so many others to Opera who may not have considered it, otherwise. ..in this way, you’re vital to the Growth and Success of the Industry. In order to take any Industry to where it’s never been, you have to go where it’s never gone. For this, you need brave, courageous, fearless Pioneers (as yourself) to plow the roads and build the bridges. Sure, it’s difficult at the beginning Stages, yet, generations far beyond for own will benefit from your labors. With this in mind, continue forward when it feels like Success is fleeting. We’re still rooting for you.

    • 
      Charlotte Hoather November 27, 2019 at 10:51 pm

      Thank you, Eric. The last two recitals I gave with a mixture of song and aria went down really well with the audiences, many of whom hadn’t seen an Opera and they loved the arias that makes me really happy, if someone paid all my bills I’d be happy to sing for the rest of my life for free 😊.

      Its hard to line up work when I’m busy on contracts and this time last year I’d several projects lined up but then I remembered there were things I couldn’t apply for or audition for because I was fully booked up so…. Who knows…Chapter 2 begins January 1st.

      Best wishes
      Charlotte

  23. 

    Lovely I have find this very pretty blog thanks for sharing

  24. 

    What an inspiration you are, Charlotte! You work so hard at all you do and I know it isn’t an easy life you lead. I wish you all the best in whatever you are doing now and in the future and one day I *will* manage to get to see you ‘live’!

    • 
      Charlotte Hoather November 27, 2019 at 10:51 pm

      Thank you, Clare. If only it was hard work that counted he he. I’ve learnt to work smarter this year the safety blanket of being a student gets whipped away along with the support network. However, I’ve maintained lessons as best I could with my singing professor Rosa who keeps me on track, my lovely coach Andrew allows me to pick up and drop off between contracts and he is a total star. I’ve kept in contact with old professors, coaches and other musicians around the UK when I’ve been working away to keep my training on track so all in all its been a very developing year.

      All my best wishes
      Charlotte

  25. 

    Charlotte, Keep up the great work…….It will pay off….Darlene

  26. 

    Sounds like you’ve done really well.

    • 
      Charlotte Hoather November 27, 2019 at 10:55 pm

      I have been grateful for all the opportunities this year and have performed alongside some amazing new friends. Fingers crossed for next year.

      Best wishes
      Charlotte

    • 
      Charlotte Hoather December 1, 2019 at 9:59 pm

      Thank you Lawrence 🧝‍♀️
      Best wishes
      Charlotte

  27. 

    Wishing you all the best, my stunningly gorgeous friend! You truly deserve all the success that comes your way. Love you X

    P.S. You can check out my latest tea party on paintings and arts which I believe might interest you. 🙂

    • 
      Charlotte Hoather December 1, 2019 at 9:06 pm

      Lovely idea for a tea party theme, I’ll have a think and share my thoughts with you and your fellow tea party guests, lovely to hear from you x
      Best wishes always,
      Charlotte

  28. 

    From what I have seen on this blog, you have done amazingly for your first year! I wish you much success for the future xx

    • 
      Charlotte Hoather December 1, 2019 at 9:08 pm

      Thank you Christine, I’ve been very lucky this year, now to try to keep the momentum going 😀, keep on swimming 🐟
      All my best wishes
      Charlotte

  29. 

    My dear Charlotte, I am very happy to see that, even if you did your voice, your technique, your technical knowledge, historical, aesthetic grow, even if you traveled far and win prestigious awards and sung with big names, you are always so kind and modest !!! My dear miss rainbow voice you deserve all the successes and happiness of the world !!!!!

    • 
      Charlotte Hoather December 1, 2019 at 9:18 pm

      As you know Pascal the arts business is inconsistent. Just trying hard to keep busy. I hope you and your family are well and looking forward to Christmas.
      All my best wishes
      Charlotte

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