Page 10 - Classical Singer magazine 2019 Fall University Issue
P. 10

Overcoming Adversity
Autism Sings through Soprano Amanda Anderson
Get a glimpse into the life of a singer who has succeeded when others told her she would not.
Soprano Amanda Anderson has had her fair share
of personal hurdles to overcome in order to be successful as a singer. This month, she shares her inspiring story about achieving her goals while living with her mental disorder.
What challenge did you overcome?
At an early age, I was diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome, an autism spectrum disorder.
How did it affect your singing?
My disorder has actually helped my singing. My mind thinks mathematically, and I’m able to find patterns pretty easily. This helps me with memorization and analyzing the technical aspects of a piece, such as chordal progressions or overall formal
structure. However, it was difficult at first to incorporate emotion because I had trouble relating to the pieces I was singing.
How did it affect other aspects of your life?
Due to my condition, I
had trouble communicating, socializing, and making friends. When I was little, I didn’t know what kinds of facial expressions conveyed different emotions. My parents would make faces at me and they’d explain that a frown meant “sad” or “angry” and that
a smile meant “happy.” I also
had difficulty figuring out what figurative language was. I had to be taught what idioms were and what they meant.
One of my biggest fears is the possibility that directors won’t hire me because I have a mental
disorder. Even before I have a conversation with them, chances are that they may think that I’m difficult to work with, immature, disruptive, or awkward, to name a few. There’s a reason why it’s called the autism spectrum. Every person is different.
I’ve met people on the spectrum that control their symptoms so well, no one would know they’re diagnosed with it. Unfortunately, people like order and classification. It’s human nature. We try to
assign general characteristics to certain groups based on our own experiences. That’s how we get stereotypes.
I’m pursuing a career in a field where you have to prove yourself if you want to keep working. If
a director doesn’t want to hire me because of the stereotypes associated with my disorder, I’ll
10 Classical Singer | September/October 2019

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