Vocal Lessons Article

#6: A Prelude


Before I became a professional music director, I had every intention of becoming a musical theatre performer.  I studied four years at the prestigious Musical Theatre program at the University of Michigan, then, as was expected, pursued the life of an actor here in New York.  But somewhere along the way, I made a turn and didn't quite end up where I'd planned. The road between my intended profession and the one I actually have has been fraught with setbacks and frustrations that left me questioning my path and my purpose. I struggled to answer the larger questions: If I was meant to be a music director, why is performance so important to me?  Should I have studied something different?  Is being a music director instead of a performer an upgrade or downgrade professionally? Whether or not these questions had merit, they were the ones haunting me.

So when I needed answers, I went back to the beginning.  Rather than getting caught up in trying to become what others considered “cast-able” (an elusive target if there ever was one), I remembered my training, embraced the music that I loved (regardless of its current popularity), and focused on improving my own unique skills, which helped me identify my talent and passion for music direction.  It took time, dedication, and the support of friends and mentors, but I'm proud and humbled to say that success has followed.  I'm currently employed as an Off-Broadway music director, a music director for a New England liberal arts college, and a freelance performer, orchestrator, and consultant on a regular basis...and I'm only 28 years old.  So, much like my experiences preparing for a lifestyle of a performer led me towards a career on the other side of the casting table, this article also serves as a prelude.

In my upcoming articles, I hope my perspective as a performer-turned-music director/coach will help guide actors approaching this industry.  I'll share my experiences from conducting auditions, participating in coaching experienced professionals and beginners alike, music directing productions from the top commercial levels on down, and mentorship by seasoned experts in the field. My goal is to help you understand what the mysterious people on the other side of the table are thinking, and how to approach them, and your career in an effective and satisfying way. So don't be afraid to ask me the difficult questions! I can't wait to help you find your way through this confusing business.

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Eli Zoller

Eli Zoller

Associate Music Director at New York Vocal Coaching