3 tips on Hustle: how hard work can advance your career!

gigs hustle opera performance singing
Hailey Fuqua and James Dargan before the panel, May 2018

At the 2018 Classical Singer Convention BSR hosted a workshop on hustle, featuring James Dargan and Hailey Fuqua. They both shared their advice on how to work hard and smart, and how to have a busy performing career. Thanks to attendee Sarah Rogers who wrote up this great summary of advice. Visit bostonsingersresource.org to learn more about other workshop offerings!


If there’s one thing all singers can relate to it’s the hustle that comes with our work. No matter what level of your career, voice part, or genre, we can all share stories of our insanely packed schedules. Between rehearsals, performances, lessons, and whatever else gets thrown our way, it’s easy to get overwhelmed and forget why we subject ourselves to this in the first place. At the Classical Singer Convention held May 2018 in Boston James Dargan and Hailey Fuqua had some wise words to share about their hustle as singers in today’s world.


TIP 1: Be the best in the world... at the little things

Let’s be honest, it takes a lot of guts to get on stages and do what we do. In this competitive field, we may not always feel like our talents are enough. That being said, there are things that we can do to better ourselves that require absolutely no talent at all. Hailey Fuqua emphasized the importance of being punctual and prepared for any gig, no matter how big or small. Being on time, knowing your music, having your music with you, and being kind and respectful to those around you- all of these simple things can go a long way. Fuqua shared that professional characteristics like this are so important in getting hired. Many conductors will hire the singer who is always prepared, even if they don’t have the strongest voice in the audition. If you’re going to be the best at anything in music, you want to be the best colleague first.


TIP 2: Be open-minded

As professional musicians, we’re always on the hunt for the next opportunity. Gigs are essential to any musician’s career, and being open and flexible to whatever opportunities come your way is a great asset. For example, James Dargan shared how he recently did an exclusive event performing with Madonna at the 2018 Met Gala. While this probably wasn’t exactly what he pictured himself doing when he became a classical singer, he remained open to the challenge. He explained that the process of working with a mega pop star was exhausting and at times quite stressful, but the connections he made with others at the performance made it worthwhile….not to mention the mega pop star paycheck. We’re all going to run into gigs that make us want to scream, but whether it’s the paycheck or the friends you make along the way, keeping a positive outlook can make an unusual gig a positive one. 


TIP 3: Respect your grind

As singers, we can’t escape our instruments. Unfortunately we can’t pack them away into cases and worry about them later, almost everything we do affects our voices. Our work requires a lot out of us, and it’s important to listen to our bodies constantly. Whether this means deciding not to go out all night for your BFF’s birthday or just deciding to drink more water day to day, we have to make choices that reward our bodies for all we put them through. Travel is a huge factor of our lives as performers, as Fuqua and Dargan both reflected on. They stressed that keeping yourself healthy and allowing time for actual rest is key to keeping up your hustle. Sometimes it’s worth it to spend that $100 more to take a nice train ride than save money bussing it. Choices like this help us stay focused and energized about the work we do.

Remembering why we love to sing reminds us of why we keep this hustle up in the first place. Hailey and James both shared amazing stories about how their hustle keeps them driven and inspired by the work they do. Whether you wake up a little earlier, take a gig you never thought you would, or just take some you-time, keep on hustling!


Image removed.Sarah Rogers is a Senior Voice Performance Major at Palm Beach Atlantic University. After she graduates in the spring of 2019, she hopes to move to Boston to continue on into obtaining her Masters degree. Sarah has always found that performing and writing have been her main sources of artistic expression, and enjoys fusing them together whenever she can. One of her main interests in writing is the evolution of opera as an art form and how it has adapted to our modern world. She is thrilled to be writing for the Boston Singers Resource.

Learn more at bostonsingersresource.org!