Welcome to my first blog which will document and hopefully give a bit of insight into what it's like to leave a music conservatoire between undergraduate and postgraduate studies.
Obviously, not everyone has the same experience but as I left the Royal Northern College of Music after completing a Bachelor of Music degree and then completing 2 terms as an Associate Student I didn't have many resources that would reassure my decision to take a year out before applying for postgrad. I'm not going to lie,I didn't cope all two well when I first left. I left in April and going from playing 'Dorabella', the first huge role I had ever done (ever!) in the college opera, to basically nothing, I found it hard not to panic. I gave myself about a week to plan my year and a third out and then had a small breakdown to my boyfriend and finally realised that I probably should chill out because it had only been a week.
It also didn't help that I wasn't doing an opera chorus this summer, standard issue of too many sopranos, but I had been offered some professional work so my situation wasn't so bleak. I was extremely proactive, sending out my C.V. to small-medium opera companies inquiring about when they were auditioning. Every opera company I emailed seemed to have a production on during Spring time. It probably would've been worth waiting until May to do this however I did have a few replies from Amateur companies (basically unpaid work). I think it was at that moment that I realised as a soprano with only an undergraduate degree the chances of me getting paid opera roles were really slim. Therefore if I wanted to increase my stage experience and feed the little stage monster that had been born during RNCM's Cosi, then I would have to do it for free and earn my money elsewhere.
Teaching was my best option being as I had a lot of experience. Being the maths-enthusiast I am, I also considered doing a qualification in Accountancy and Tax in order to start a business where I do musicians accounts and taxes for them. Good idea? I think so but it's a lot of effort with the potential of the whole thing falling flat on it's face and wasn't really worth focusing on during just a year out. So teaching it was. I worked out I could do a few days a week of teaching to keep me going and then I could focus on performing, practising and auditioning on the other days.
I spoke to a few people who had taken years out and they told me to chill out and that things will just happen which clearly was what happened to them. I've always been someone who seeks out opportunities and I wanted to make sure the work I was doing was linked i.e. not working in a pub. Anyway I found some auditions on Facebook groups such as opera talk and opera auditions and applied for them. Now I'm really busy preparing for a role down in Surrey on a course, preparing for auditions and preparing for an Oratorio.
After all that stressing at the beginning, I finally feel that my year out is going to be a success. Having this term to plan it was the best idea I had. The advice I would give to Sarah two months ago would be it's worth considering giving yourself more than a week to figure things out before you have a breakdown.