So, I’ve had a few days off rehearsals. Days off rehearsals are both adored and resented by singers, in pretty-well equal measure, though I lean much more to the former.
I’ll explain. The resentment bit first.
You’re away from home to work, you’re not being paid (because singers are never paid to rehearse, only to perform, something which I keep banging on about because very few people believe me), and yet you have to stay in the city. In theory you might be able to go home but as often as not it’s impractical or hideously expensive. Some opera companies forbid it; you are not allowed to leave the city without the consent of the boss. You’re renting expensive digs (and yet you’re not being paid). You’re thinking: I could have arrived here a week or two later, paid less rent, and still got the job done in the time I’ve been used. You could find yourself in a city that is, very often, an absolute armpit (I’m thinking Liege here) with no redeeming qualities whatsoever and sod all to do.
No wonder then that resentment can sit heavily in the breast like a dump in a baby’s nappy.
On the other hand you can find yourself with no-one to please but yourself. You have time to potter about, as I did today, buying tea and toothpaste. I even have found myself polishing my shoes. Angry Birds becomes a task rather than a guilty pleasure. I can read, watch Mad Men by the ton. I can even find time to….PRACTISE. Yes, I’ve been using a studio in the Muziektheater for long sessions of preparation for my next jobs. Even at my age I have to practise. Well, that music doesn’t get learned by itself. Though it has to be said that the ability to use a studio is a rare and luxurious facility. I can’t think of many other houses I’ve worked in where you can do it so readily. There’s something very satisfactory about going out to a studio to work rather than doing it at home. A set period of study after which you leave and turn out the lights is much better for focussing the mind than working at home where the piano sits piled with music that you mean to get around to tackling as soon as everything else like paying bills and washing the kitchen floor has been taken care of.
It’s a bit like the gym. The amount of people I know who have exercise equipment in their bedrooms that has become an expensive clothes horse… The thinking is “why bother to go to a gym when we can do it at home?” without realising that it’s the the going to the gym that is the vital step out of indolence.
So, you see I don’t resent having a few days off. I’m getting much more done than if I were at home.

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