Howard Stern Show - Jerry Seinfeld Interview 06/26/13
In the interview, Jerry was asked if his work was still difficult, to which he replied, “your blessing in life is when you find the torture you’re comfortable with.”
The interviewer asks if Jerry wishes for a time when he can go out to a Chinese restaurant with his wife without trying to find jokes for his next comedy act. To which he replies firmly "no", emphasising: "It's a torture I love."
The work never stops. Life doesn't get easier the more you do it. Every time I get on stage to perform, every audition I go to, it is still hard work. But it is a torture I love! Singing is a very demanding career choice. But I wouldn't want to do anything else.
The pros and cons of being a singer:
It's glamorous, exciting, varied, creative, fun, expressive, a continuous educational journey, filled with adrenaline, you meet lots of people, no two gigs are ever the same, and it is 100% the opposite of boring.
Unsociable working times, high pressure, high stress, lots of long distance travel, no sick pay, you only get one shot at a performance, no room for error, negative judgement from others, expensive singing lessons and training courses, performance nerves and anxiety, irregular income, and worst of all is that it is 100% unstable - you could get ill at any time and have to quit. Or if you make a high profile mistake, it could end your career instantly. So you have to immerse yourself in the lifestyle: watch closely what you eat and drink, get lots of sleep, keep fit, avoid smokers like the plague, avoid any loud environments (nightclubs, parties, busy traffic etc), limit socialising and over talking (it can get lonely), and get early nights when possible - especially before gigs (so no Thursday, Friday or Saturday night parties pretty much ever).
So why do I and many others like me choose a career in music? Especially when there are so many sacrifices involved.
Here is why I do it: "It's a torture I love."
Performing on stage is a gamble. You could win or you could lose. There is no in between. But you are gambling on yourself and on your past achievements. You are gambling on the amount of practice and preparation you have done. Only you can increase of decrease your odds and your chance for success. There is no greater feeling than standing on stage and giving the performance of you life - feeding off the audience's reaction and taking them on an emotional journey with you. Yes at any second you could fall off stage or sing a wrong note, but that just adds to the adrenaline. And then afterwards when the audience applauses and then you leave the stage, it is the post performance buzz that makes you feel invincible. You feel like you have just won the lottery. All of your hard work has paid off - the hours learning music, the money spent on singing lessons and coaching, the insecurities and feelings that you aren't good enough, the pain and anxiety that was building up before the performance. It's all worth it.
Being a professional singer is not for the faint hearted. Not everyone can do what I do. But I do it because I love it. If it wasn't for the hard work, pain and "torture" that I put into every performance, then I would not appreciate the highs that I get when things go well.
Singing is a torture I love.
What's your torture?
Thanks to Matthew Hussey for inspiring this blog.
Jennifer Coleman is a soprano who works as a classical singer and vocal coach. Available for performances across the UK and internationally.