Pros and Cons of a Gap Year
Like most singers, this author struggles with the time between undergrad and the moment you start getting paid to sing (still working on that part but we're not gonna talk about it). Like many others, I opted for a gap year between my undergraduate studies and my master's program. Here's what I found in my year "off" of opera studies:
*Disclaimer: I took a year off of *auditions*, so I graduated from my undergraduate in 2019, auditioned in 2020, and started my master's degree in 2021. Take from that what you will.
Financial Gain - I used my gap year to work a full-time job and save money for the imminent "next step" (which turned out to be pretty smart, actually).
Exploring other interests - This is a great time to try something new! Develop new hobbies and interests, meet new people. Get a feel of what your life might be like without the constant pressure of academia.
Take a psychological break - If you're like me, undergraduate was an emotionally draining experience (that's tea, bestie). I'm serious - taking a full year and a half to just chill out was such a blessing. Unfortunately, the panini put a pause on my whole "good vibes" thing, but it was nice to set myself free from the constant barrage of bad felings.
Get back in touch with yourself - There is literally no better time to realign yourself with your priorities. I cut all my hair off, broke up with my boyfriend, and moved to a different city because I took the time to ask myself what I really wanted in this year. Highly recommended for anyone who is questioning their next step.
You will lose at least a portion of info learned in your undergrad - Just trust, I was reteaching myself basic theory and key signatures last summer. Everything that I learned under stress fell out of my head as if my ears were shaped like shower drains.
You might hate it - Bestie, I was MISERABLE without opera in my life. But truly, I'm glad I took the year to appreciate what I have now. It's given me an opportunity to approach the work from a refreshed perspective.
You might love it - I'm putting this in my cons list, because learning that you don't really like singing is not always a comfortable thing to admit. There is a huge stigma surrounding leaving opera (Just read Bestie Em's article about it here). However, learning that you love something more than opera is always good news, and either way your people are gonna love you so who really cares.
The structure of academia might suck a little - Based on the opinion of my wonderful beautiful colleagues, it can be tricky to readjust from a full-time work schedule back to a schedule of classes where you have something due every day.
All in all, know that people will tell you you'll lose momentum. Know that people will put undue pressure on you to continue working, even if you're really not feeling it anymore. And, most importantly, know that this is ultimately your decision. Whatever you feel is best for you is the right answer. My life would probably be different if I didn't take a gap year, but I am so glad that I had this time to be with myself and regain my love for this incredible art form.
- Camden McLean