We all remember having dreams of being famous as a kid. Whether we wanted to be a singer, dancer, actor or sports star, there were some big ambitions in our little bodies. As parents it can be hard to navigate big goals and finding the right ways to support our littles. To get some insight, we went behind the scenes at the Michigan Opera Theatre (MOT) Studio and asked the season’s residents to share lessons from life on stage.
The MOT Studio is a young artist residency that provides advanced training and performance opportunities to support the next generation of opera singers. The five resident artists represent some of the most exciting emerging talent in opera today. Coming to Detroit from all different areas of the country, from September to June these young opera professionals gain valuable experience on the main stage and in community productions.
Harry Greenleaf – Wixom, MI
On handling stage fright
I do not have a trick for this, nerves are inevitable. I’m a pacer so I feel comfortable walking around and staying loose before I have to go in front of an audience – I definitely get strange looks from my colleagues. My favorite professional baritone admits that nerves only get worse as you get better at performing. That’s part of the thrill of it, though!
Try it out! Seek out community/church/school ensembles and clubs. It is a great way to make friends. All of my favorite memories from school are associated with music and theater activities. It’s really a special thing to be a part of.
Monica Dewey – Stone Mountain, GA
On changing interests
It’s funny, I never would have guessed I would have a career on stage when I was a kid. I had aspirations of being the next Serena Williams and devoted a lot of my time to tennis. It was later in life when I became involved in my high school choir that I realized how much I love to sing. I found a fantastic voice teacher in Atlanta and started my preparation for college music programs when I was 16. Those two years of lessons were really important in shaping my vocal technique and musicianship and definitely helped me feel more confident on stage.
Advice for parents
A career in the arts is tough and requires a lot of support, both emotionally and financially. But the rewards are amazing and worth it! I am able to pursue what I love because of my parents, and I cannot thank them enough for it.
Erik Van Heyningen – Poway, CA
On pre-show jitters
Breathe. It sounds silly, but it works.
Preparing for life on stage
Learn to play the piano. Learn any language other than your own native tongue. Take care of your health. However, the most important thing is to foster your imagination. Read, read, read, and then read some more. If you’re involved in music or theatre you’ll be performing characters for the rest of your life, better start getting to know all of them.
Does your little dream of life under the lights? The Michigan Opera Theatre’s Children’s Choir provides choral music and theatrical performance instruction in a professional environment to kids ages 8-16. Get tickets to see their spring performance of H.M.S. Pinafore on Saturday, April 28th.
About Carrie Budzinski
Carrie Budzinski is the Vice President of LittleGuide Detroit. She grew up in Livonia and Detroit and continues to live life in both cities. Carrie loves exploring the city and finding hidden gems in the suburbs..