Category Archives: Honesty

Telling you how I really feel about it.

The Website Has Arrived

Emboldened and encouraged, I took the plunge and made a website: joyceyin.com

I held off on making one for several years. Actually, I bought a domain (a different one) years ago but never did anything with it. I remember paying for several years in advance instead of using the annual renewal feature and thinking to myself, “This number of years should be enough time for me to figure out whether I’m going to make it in this business.”

In that time, I’ve had who knows how many lessons and coachings, taken an entire Master’s degree worth of classes, practiced a lot, had my eyes opened, blindfolded, opened again, made discoveries, gotten very confused, experienced anxiety and frustration, felt really awesome about my singing, doubted myself, learned to lighten up a bit, let go of negativity, pushed myself, been exhausted, been totally pumped up and inspired, graduated, moved across the country, resumed working full-time and singing on the side, and even have gotten to perform some. But it wasn’t until very recently I felt ready to have a website.

I’m not sure what my definition of “ready” was or is, or what the definition might be for others, but clearly something has happened recently to help me feel otherwise. Perhaps the optimism and excitement I’ve been experiencing lately have nudged me past the tipping point. I am singing differently, and I think about singing differently. I haven’t completely figured out this complicated relationship I have with music, but I feel better about it, more positive.

So take a singer, add a dose of positivity and a sprinkle of encouragement, and you get a website.

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My new website: joyceyin.com

Also, making a website has gotten a million times easier in the past few years. What used to seem like a towering, daunting task is now fun. No coding skills required, just the ability to drag and drop, and a somewhat artistic eye is helpful to have but not altogether necessary. I think it’s also an accurate observation that having a digital presence is much more of a given than it used to be, and at an earlier stage of one’s career too. These days, a website where curious parties can click around is almost as basic as having a resume and headshot. The Internet sure has changed a lot of things, hasn’t it?

So you may have noticed a few changes around the blog recently as some information — “official” stuff such as repertoire, schedule, etc. — gets moved over to the new site. But fear not, this blog won’t be going away. I’ll continue to write here: reflecting, pondering, arriving at new ideas, sharing my journey. This is where you can still find the behind the scenes goodies, glimpses into the raw world of classical singing, the inner workings, and my inner thoughts.

But please do visit the website and let me know what you think!

 

New Year, New Audition Outlook

Happy New Year again! The lunar new year was just last week on February 19th, and Baritone Boy and I enjoyed a wonderful if not-quite-traditional celebration at home after a long day of work for both of us. I lack the culinary skills to create a real Chinese New Year feast, but I did stop by Chinatown on the way home for groceries and successfully cobbled together a meal inspired by the foods that remind me most of home and family: noodle soup, potstickers, zongzi (sticky rice wrapped in bamboo leaves), and nian gao (sticky new year’s cake). Each course brings to mind very specific family memories, so this meal made me feel close to my family despite being separated by the width of the North American continent.

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A family-memories inspired New Year’s dinner. NYC, 2015.

It has been years since I spent Chinese New Year with my parents and brother, but I loved sharing this holiday with Baritone Boy and Dante and indulging in some delicious dishes. This New Year marked not only the start of the Year of the Sheep but also wrapped up what has been a very busy seven weeks since January 1st.

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New Year, New York

By calling upon my West Coast roots and operating on Pacific Time tonight, I have about half an hour before January 2015 comes to a close. Things have been quite busy since the new year began, and I want to reflect on it and savor it before February starts and the new year isn’t quite so new anymore.

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New Year’s with the family. San Jose, 2015.

I had such a wonderful time with my family in California that leaving was quite difficult. I think it’s because we become closer each time. My mom likes to point out that we’re just a quick phone call and a short plane ride apart — as she likes to remind me, staying in touch is much easier and far less expensive now than it was in her day. Still, saying goodbye to my family is not easy, and re-adjusting to real life seems to get harder each time I leave California.

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Flying back into NYC. NYC, 2015.

I felt pretty subdued and even sad during my flight, but I perked up as we approached JFK. Looking down on the lights, I felt a wave of excitement for what 2015 might hold. Seeing how vast the city is, imagining the 8 million plus people down there, I felt united with them in not knowing exactly what the future had in store for us.

Unfortunately, that feeling of unity didn’t last long once I was on the ground. Waiting alongside masses of impatient New Yorkers for our bags to glide by on the carousel, I was firmly back in the reality of NYC — cold, crowded, ruthless. I really missed the comfort and support of my parents and brother. The nicer strangers. And the warmer temperatures.

The next day, I was riding the subway when a man come on board with his drum and his music. Up until that point, the ride had been a typical New York public transit experience: crowded but silent, each person minding their own business, mostly tired, few smiles. I was personally exhausted and feeling pretty down about being back in New York without Dante and Baritone Boy (both of whom were staying in California for a few days longer), but this gentleman brought a smile to my face and to the faces of many others. He said:

“When you wake up and go outside, don’t be afraid to be you, the unique you that only you can be, the you the world so desperately needs. As long as you are part of the solution and not the problem, don’t let anyone distract you from what you’re doing.”

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And with that, I felt united in the unknown, the excitement, the adventure that awaits us all this new year.  New York, you really know how to get a girl back on her feet and ready to take on whatever you throw at her. Here’s to 2015 and what it might bring!

Enjoying Fall in NYC

If there’s one season I’ve consistently written off, it’s Fall. With its dull browns and gloomy grays, Fall is unremarkable and pales in comparison to the two seasons it is awkwardly sandwiched between, seasons that are a lot more fun.

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Dante in one of his sweaters. Fort Tryon Park. NYC, 2014.

At least that was the opinion I had before I moved to NYC, before I experienced the humid stuffiness of Summer and the biting, slippery danger of Winter. Now my eyes are opened and I celebrate this fantastic opportunity to wear boots and sweaters (and to dress Dante up) without my fingers and toes freezing off. The change in weather seemed to happen overnight — one day we were strolling along in short-sleeves and sandals, and the next morning the sidewalks were filled with hats, scarves, and long coats. Continue reading

A Thankful and Full Thanksgiving

This year’s Thanksgiving was perfectly timed. Coming right after our big Strauss concert and right before rehearsals for Don Giovanni begin, this holiday and the long weekend are  just what I needed to recharge and then gear-up for the last month of 2014.

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Thanksgiving family portrait. NYC, 2014.

Thanksgiving was never my favorite holiday as a child (Halloween was more fun, Christmas was far more exciting, and turkey was not that big of a deal). I have personal qualms about the historic basis of the celebration, but as I find more to be thankful for each year, I have grown fond of the idea of reflecting and giving thanks.

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Competition and Contemplation

I had a lot to be grateful for this year, developments and opportunities I was eager to share, but I deliberated for a while before deciding to share some of my very private thoughts about singing in this year’s Musical Merit. It would have been easier to say nothing about my experience, but as this blog is about life and not just the best and most amazing parts of being a singer, I felt it was important not to sweep it under the rug.

So what happened? I was nervous in the hours leading up to my time slot, but once the music started, most of the nerves melted away. I started with “At the Well,” and the judges asked for “Silver Aria,” Presentation of the Rose, and “Green.” Everything went just fine. Nothing terrible happened. Perhaps if something had gone horribly wrong, I would have been able to come up with a clear cause-and-effect — I made Debussy roll over in his grave with my intonation and horrible French diction, therefore I did not place. 

There were a few things I wish I’d done differently (hmmm that C# could have been narrower and taller), but overall, I was happy with how I sang. I left the room in a great mood and ready to enjoy the rest of my mini-vacation:

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Feeling pretty good after the semi. San Diego, 2014.

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California Girl at Heart

I’m back in NYC after an amazing 2.5 weeks at the Astoria Music Festival. But before I dive into that, my post-San Diego post is overdue! So here it is:

It’s almost my one year anniversary of moving to New York, but part of me never left California. In New York, everyone is rushing to be somewhere, do something, be someone. The past few months have been a bit of a blur thanks to Le nozze di Figaro, a recital, and Così fan tutte, and it wasn’t until I landed back in San Diego that I had the chance to hit pause.

It would have been a perfectly-timed pause if I weren’t also stressing about learning Despina, but even so it was much-needed and much-enjoyed. You’ll be pleased to know I got to everything on my San Diego to-do list and then some!

THE OCEAN

I’ll come out and say it: the Pacific is better than the Atlantic…

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Looking down onto Pacific Beach from a grassy knoll. Pacific Beach, 2014.

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A surfer heads into the water. Pacific Beach, 2014.

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Strolling along Pacific Beach after yoga. Pacific Beach, 2014.

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Reframing My Goals for Musical Merit

Over the past few days my nervousness about Musical Merit has increased. I know after giving my recital that my technique will most likely stay intact, but how do I stack up against other singers? I know I’ve improved since last year, but by how much? And is it enough? What if they (the judges) don’t like me or my singing?

Dante helps me pack for my trip to San Deigo. NYC, 2014

Dante helps me pack for my trip to San Diego. NYC, 2014

These questions are common for singers to obsess over, but they’re not doing me any good. So, to combat my rising nervousness and doubt, I’ve decided to shift the focus of this trip from hoping to place in the competition to 1) singing each piece of music with conviction; and 2) treating myself to a mini-vacationContinue reading