The Hidden Cost of Role Preparation

Once the ink is dry on the contract for your latest gig, it’s easy to get wrapped up in research, planning, and general celebrating. You should absolutely celebrate; you get a chance to create art! In the afterglow of landing your role, however, don't forget to plan for the financial costs of your role preparation.

It goes without saying that you should show up to the first rehearsal with your role learned. That means that notes, rhythms, diction, translations, and a character sketch are all solidified in your mind. In order to accomplish this, you’ll need extensive preparation. If you are already budgeting for singing expenses in addition to your regular budget (Click here for an easy way to get started!), then be sure to add the following potential costs. Let’s ball park some numbers with the assumption that your role prep will take place over a two-month period, and you are no longer in school.

Keep the following expenses in mind as you plan for your upcoming role study. Remember, the bulk of these costs will vary widely based on your teacher, the part of the country you live in, and your housing situation. Do what fits best for your unique situation!

1. Essential Costs:

Lessons, Coachings, Rehearsal Pianist, and Practice Room Rentals

Assuming you have a weekly lesson, weekly coaching, and you rent a practice space twice a week, you could be looking at a little under $5,000 just to learn your role over a two month span. Obviously this is on the high-end of costs, but remember to use your time and money wisely. There are easy ways to minimize your costs:

  • Ask your teacher or coach for a bulk rate for your lessons and coachings

  • If you are working long hours and aren't showing much growth between sessions, consider alternating your lessons and coachings

  • Inquire if your teacher and coach will be willing to teach a few sessions together, eliminating the need for a lesson pianist and encouraging you to synthesize style and vocal technique

  • Remember, your time and your instructor's time is valuable. Show up to your lessons and coachings prepared, and ready to get the most bang for your buck!

2. Non-Essential Costs:

Score purchase, Recording purchase, Copies/Score binding, Office supplies

  • Inquire if the company who hired you will be sending a score before you rush out to buy one

  • Try to find a recording on a free streaming site. Remember to find a recording with a well- respected conductor; not just your favorite soprano.

  • As fun as it is to buy color coordinated sharpie pens, ask yourself if it's worth the added expense. Use office supplies you already own.

  • If you work in an office, see if you can print your scanned score for free at work. It never hurts to ask!

  • Finally, track your expenses, no matter how small, and be sure to discuss all potential deductions with your accountant during tax season

When taking on a new role, it's important to consider your personal expenses and weigh them against the offered fee. If you are spending thousands of dollars to prepare for a gig that only pays a few hundred, perhaps your time and money are better spent elsewhere. Look at your overall financial picture and don't be afraid to say no to a gig!

What tips and tricks do you have to minimize role preparation costs? Share with your fellow frugal singers in the comments!

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