Between the pandemic and the renewed calls for social justice in the past year, artists of all stripes and genres have been affected in unique ways from other professions. What was already a gig economy for us has turned into a need to become multihyphenates—skilled artists who pursue and hopefully excel in a range of creative endeavors. Sometimes, however, it can be a matter of refocusing an existing skill. One such example is the need for opera and musical theater performers to use their musical talents elsewhere, and what better way than through concerts, cabarets, vocal recordings, and even cruise ships. At the moment these types of opportunities are coming back in more places and with more frequency than live stage productions, so if you haven’t already it’s time to venture into the true singer’s life and broaden your opportunities.
Now, whether you’re new to this world or have been doing it a while, it’s important to make sure your CV is up to date and shows off your talent and ability in the best light. This is especially true for theater folk who may not know the particular content and requirements of a singer’s résumé, because it has elements that will be both familiar and foreign to the stage actor. But what is universal to all résumés is that they should be concise and truthful. Claudia Friedlander, a voice teacher and fitness expert in New York City, says that casting directors and producers appreciate “clarity and brevity” as they sort through the many résumés they see on a daily basis. “They do not have a great deal of time to spend on every bio or résumé that passes through their hands and…while it may be natural to want people to be excited about your accomplishments, do not exaggerate or distort information on your résumé or clutter up your bio with superlatives.”
So with that in mind, here are six elements you do need to include as you put your one-page singer résumé together.
1. Name and Contact Info
No résumé is complete without this most basic of information. While the name should always be at the top, there is some artistic license of whether to put contact info directly underneath your name or at the footer of the résumé. Just make sure it’s accurate and easy to find. Sam Snook, an artist manager with IMG Artists, appreciates when singers list their height and asks that singers make it clear if they’re represented by an agent or manager. “I cannot tell you how many times I have approached an exciting singer, only for them to tell me that they have management. Wear it as a badge of honor; you’ve earned it.”
2. Vocal Range and Fach
The vocal range simply lists your most comfortable low note to most comfortable high note. Don’t list the note you hit that one time in the shower because it needs to be one you can easily sing day in and day out. That German word, though, may be new to some of you. Essentially, Fach is a system for classifying singers by voice type used mostly in the opera world. But musical theater performers are familiar with these terms as well, and it certainly helps those behind the table know what to expect before you even open your mouth. It includes:
3. Performance Experience (or Repertoire)
You’ll include the show/production name, your role, and the producing company and/or location. Listing music directors and conductors is also helpful, particularly ones with a noteworthy reputation. Again, there’s some artistic freedom of how you’d like to organize this information. You can separate it into columns (like the typical theater résumé) or use short sentences and bullet points (more like a business résumé). And though it isn’t necessary, you can also categorize your performances by genre. Just make sure to only list musically relevant experience like Opera, Musical Theater, Concerts/Oratorios, etc.
Another important item to include here is the year of each performance and you’ll list them in chronological order, starting with the most recent. Mezzo-soprano Cindy Sadler says that while some administrators and casting personnel don’t care, “too many will see a red flag if you don’t list dates. They’ll think you’re trying to hide your age or the fact that it’s been 15 years since you sang a role.” So just put the year on your résumé, no need to include months or days, though.
4. Awards and Recognitions
This is where you can brag a bit but still keep it relevant and notable. Please note, this isn’t a place for glowing reviews or honorable mentions. List only award nominations or wins as well as top three finishes in major competitions.
5. Education and Training
It’s most important to keep this information both representative of your accumulation of knowledge and skill as well as applicable to your work as a singer, but it shouldn’t be exhaustive or comprehensive. Narrow it down to a handful of notable training programs, voice teachers, conductors, and music directors that would speak highly of you. Again, listing dates of study are helpful. When it comes to formal education, a degree in languages might be relevant, but a Master’s in computer science (while impressive) isn’t exactly pertinent to your singing ability. So keep this section concise and selective.
6. Personal Information
Actors will know this as the Special Skills section, where a range of skills and talents are listed. The McCray Studio, an international vocal arts studio in the Netherlands, reminds its students that these should be useful skills that are related to singing, “but think long and hard before putting them in your CV. State only things that you are actually really good at cause it might come back to bite you in the arse.” One thing to note is that as your singing experience grows, this section can be reduced or even eliminated to make way for more credits and training.
As with any résumé, this should show off your work and experience but also represent you as an artist and a professional. So once you have all this information collected and laid out, proofread it again and again for typos and accuracy. The spelling of names and companies is especially important, and choose a serif font that is clean and legible for the entire document. Your name can be in a more stylized font if you wish, but make sure it is readable.
Also, keep in mind that it doesn’t matter the number of your credits. Some will have to leave off half their credits, while others won’t even be able to fill up a single page. The important thing is to submit and audition for roles and shows suitable to your level of experience and skill. Lastly, keep in mind that different venues and producers may need specific or more detailed information, so always do your research and follow all submission guidelines. Good luck and happy singing!
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and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Backstage or its staff.