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1. When you’re a musical theatre major, you’re really triple majoring.

When studying to become the best “triple threat” you can be, you’ll find yourself putting more and more time into each aspect-singing, acting, and dancing. The industry is full of “triple threats” so making yourself stand-out in one vs. the other is a great way to discover yourself as a performer. The pressure to do all three perfectly isn’t the way to motivate yourself-use the resources around you to embrace what already can do well and improve on your weaker areas.

2. Self-depreciation is toxic but inevitable. 

It’s easy to say you’re not going to compare yourself to other performers in your department, but when you see all the fan kicks hitting the ceiling, hearing the belted high C’s and crazy vibrato, it’s hard to not to wish you were something you’re not. What is important to know is that while it’s okay to envy someone’s talent, what you have to remember to do is to turn this feeling into MOTIVATION to become a better YOU. You can’t trade bodies with anyone else, and quite frankly, you shouldn’t want to. You were made the way you were and given the gifts, you have for a reason, and you’d be surprised how many people most likely envy you as well. Stay true to you-no one likes a carbon copy.

3. Practice rooms will be your best friends. 

There’s nothing like walking into those small rooms with simply a piano, bench, and music stand present. You look into the mirror with your water bottle freshly filled and music in hand and you just know-you’re about to get shit done.

4. Your professors care about YOU.

Too often students think that professors are only there for your academic support. And while this is generally their primary intention, theatre professors are different because you will get to know them in and out of the classroom. Whether it’s a voice lesson or a rehearsal, there’s always a chance to ask/tell them something about your life and theirs’. They are a huge resource academically, musically, and emotionally.

5. Having two left feet doesn’t mean you can’t/won’t be successful.

Often times students will enter school with little-no dance training and that is OKAY. There’s a good chance that either your first semester/year will include beginner level classes that take the steps slowly, or will require a placement test so you can be put into levels based on your previous experience taking dance. On the flip side of this, there’s nothing wrong with taking a beginner class if you have danced previous-taking it back to basics is a great way to perfect technique on the simple steps so when you progress to harder levels, you’re a cleaner and stronger dancer.

6. Your well-being comes before opportunity.

So often musical theatre majors tend to think that being a part of every production is vital to get your name and face well-known in the department. Well, while having numerous opportunities can be exciting, it also is a bad idea to load too much on your schedule-especially freshman year. There’s a lot of added pressure and stress as it is your first year being away from home and trying to find your place on campus. Be sure you’re putting your health FIRST and your activities SECOND.

7. Alcohol is a big no-no.

Although a huge part of college life is the party scene, health-wise alcohol is terrible for your vocal chords. Stray from large consumptions of liquor ESPECIALLY if you’re in a production or have performances coming up. Avoiding any strain is vital for your career and well-being.

8. Don’t put yourself in a box.

Limiting yourself as a performer is easier to do than most think because it can be done in many ways. To help you out: here are some of the ones I’ve noticed myself having done in the past few months.

-Limitations based on vocal range (“I can’t sing that because I’m not a soprano/tenor/etc.)

-Limitations based on ethnicity

-Limitations based on background (Never having sung with vibrato does not mean you don’t have it)

-Limitations based on comparison (“I can’t sing that song because they already sang from that show”)

-Limitations based on belief of ability (“I can’t sing that song because it’s too big for me”)

There are always resources out there that will help with finding repertoire you are comfortable with, such as http://stageagent.com, but you should also aim to push yourself out of the box you’ve subconsciously created.

9. There’s nothing wrong with “sounding bad” when learning.

Often times vocal warmups will work to exercise the voice and part of this means making “ugly” or “awkward” sounds to build the strength to turn them into a lovely melody later. In addition to this, a lot of theatres requires character voices for different roles so being able to utilize different tones and sounds to your voice will only send you ahead.

10. The world is not fair.

It can go without saying that the industry will rip you apart before it rewards you. Just remember that if you don’t get a role you worked your ass off for, or you get some tough criticism you don’t know how to deal with, it’s okay to second guess yourself but never okay to give up. Your passion should only drive you to excellence, and remember you are a performer for a reason-no one else is like you and that is a gift.


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Mikayla Clifford


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