Audition Advice for Singers
... from Amazing Performers, Vocal Coaches,
Singing Students & Industry Professionals
There is plenty of information about the audition process on the internet. I thought it would be unique to gather input from some of my friends and let them share their own audition experiences and advice with you!
Thank you to all who took time to share your words of wisdom so we can learn from your experience, and for permission to use your words on my site.
Audition Advice for Beginners
By Karen LeBlanc,
Singer, Recording Artist, Voice-Over, Film & Television Actress, Musical Theatre Performer, Toronto, Canada
To prepare for audition stage or show, research and find the RIGHT song for YOU! If it's a rock show, find a suitable rock song. Pick the right key, change it if you must. You have two or three minutes to be the best possible you.
Though you may love a Celine Dion song, are you able to carry that song as powerfully as she did? If not, then choose a song that you can 'kick butt' with! Start at the biggest and best part of the song. Sometimes they cut you off before you get to your best notes. Showcase the best part of your performance that will make YOU the most memorable out of the possible 500 auditioners they will see that day.
Be prepared 150% you can garuantee that with nerves you lose 50%... so that way you will be 100% prepared! No matter what. Knowing your stuff gives you a sense of confindence, because nerves will try and convince you that you don't' know your stuff well enough, which may mean you will fall on your face. Know your material.
Also, be prepared for ANYTHING at an audition. They may request something from you, and although they may request 1 song, it doesn't hurt to have a back up plan, or another choice, in case they do like you. The longer you can be in that room, the better.
Know that they want YOU to be the one, they want YOU to have the gig, and that they are kind people (mostly) and human like you. Relax, somehow realax!!!!!!! Breathe.
Be sure and warm up stretch stay focused ...keep headphones on...whatever you need to do to stay connected to your plan for getting the gig.
AUDITION STORY: At one of my first professional auditions I was so nervous, and not focused. I ran into good friend the minute she walked out of her audition. Since I was up next, I was chatty asked her how it went and what song did she sing, which was "The Way You Do the Things You Do". They called me in 5 minutes later. I had brought my own piano player. He played the intro for my song, "Dancin In the Streets". And I somehow started singing, "You got a a smile so bright.." ...which are the words to my friend's song, "The Way You Do the Things You Do".....ha ha ha I was only 20 years old and horrified; I cried for days! So stay focused and don't get distracted. I still laugh out loud about it to this day, though.
UNEXPECTED THINGS CAN HAPPEN: I went to - what I thought was - a singing and basic movement audition. Ha! I was suddenly in a room with KICK ASS dancers. Very unexpected....it was hard stuff with lots of choreography; a lot to remember.
I remember being so frustrated and angry that I wasn't warned, I wanted to leave several times. I wouldn't have done anything different. I was determined to get through it and even if I had to fake it. I kept moving with the pack with such conviction, they had to notice at least that I was trying, as hard as I could. You can't be mad at yourself for trying you best right?
For me a sense of confidence is something you see in someone's eyes. You need a sense of focus and knowing. You need strength to be good singer and to be a good dancer. Do you love what you are doing? They can read that. Who cares if you mess up! Are you present - open - and willing ??? Sometimes, those are the most important things.
Photo used with permission.
Tips for a Great Musical Theatre Audition
By Wendy Lands
Singer, Recording Artist, Voice Actor, Composer, Musical Theatre Performer, Toronto, Canada
Here are some tips and they are in no specific order.
How you present yourself is even more important then how great your voice sounds that day.
Be as vocally prepared as possible so you can concentrate on wowing the judges with your Charisma...cause really that's what makes a star.
When you sing for a panel, be sure to look into the eyes of each person, deeply, and confidently.
The content of what your singing must be FELT. The more you make a connection with the piece you're singing, the greater you are. Just hitting all the notes perfectly, is dull!
Photo used with permission.
Eat before you leave the house!!! When I went to a cattle call to audition for the original Les Miserables, I was too nervous to eat. When I showed up for my 9:00 a.m. call time, I ended up waiting till 1:00 p.m. to sing for the panel. I was sooooo hungry by then and soooo anxious, that as I finished the 16 bars of a song I had prepared, in front of a huge panel of VIPs, I started to see stars and ended up fainting and falling to the floor. The next thing I knew, the casting directors were standing over me, fanning me and offering water. I wanted to DIE!!!!! I took 2 minutes, collected myself and sang all over again, this time no fainting. In the end I made it through and joined the cast of Les Mis.
Jenn's American Idol Audition Advice
By Jenn: American Idol Contestant Charleston, South Carolina American Idol Auditions
As they always say the song is the most important decision you'll ever make. It defines you and your vocal capability. Choose a song that fits your vocal range. Nothing is worse than time of the audition you end up screeching or cracking under pressure because you can't hit that high note or reach that low one. Don't try to out do or over do it.
Choose a song that you can relate to and believe in. That way you can look that judge in the eye and mean every single word that you're singing. Show them emotion. Like J Lo said you have to tell a story.
Choose a song that doesn't take up a lot of back ground vocals or music. When you have to sing a song with out music it should sound just as nice, if not better than it would be with the music. That way when you sing the song it has a nice even flow with out a lot of pauses and you don't have to count in your head when to start singing again.
Be yourself and follow your heart. I know they say don't sing over-used songs and popular or current artists, but if you know you can pull it off and make it your own and that's what YOU feel comfortable singing than do it. When I was at the Charleston audition, most of the people that got to go on to the next round were singing current songs by popular artists. Whatever works that can make you put on the audition of a life time. DO IT. What (have) you got to lose(?)
BE YOURSELF. Don't try to over dress. Just wear clothes that define who you are. That way you stand out from the rest. I'll admit that I over dressed. I felt 5 years older. So next year I'm just going to wear what's comfortable and cute for me. And don't act or try to rehearse because they'll know when it's fake and they'll know when its genuine.
Photo and Jenn's blog entry from the Charleston S.C. American Idol audition is courtesy of: http://idolauditionblog.com/
Audition Advice on Confidence
By Kim Kaskiw
Vocal Coach, Singer, Tuba Player - Ottawa, Canada
Know your material! If you are prepared the margin for error is next to nothing and you can focus all of your energy on a great performance. Sing for as many people who will listen before the audition. Explain that you are doing an audition and you want to perform your pieces for as many people as you can. Don't ask for their opinion, just sing for them. If you can sing for your Mother, you can sing for anybody! LOL
Imagine the people auditioning you as you are singing. What do you see? If this fills you with fear, turn it around. Imagine yourself as the auditioner what do you want to see? How do you want you to sound? How do you want you to look? How do you want you to feel? Write down one word answers to these questions and keep them as a reminder.
Photo used with permission.
Remember these people are not out to get you, they are looking for what you have to offer. There is room for everyone and if this is meant for you, it will happen. A successful audition is one in which you did everything you could to prepare for and you did your very best and you did it honestly and with all your heart. The outcome is not the reward; the journey is.
This has been the best imagery I have used for myself and my students and with good results. Imagining everyone naked has never worked for me. LOL
The other one that works for me is looking at my physical symptoms of performance anxiety. Sweaty, shaky, pounding heart, pacing. Now we get the same physical symptoms when we would win the lottery or when you win an award etc. Look forward to the experience rather than dread it. When you say to yourself "Oh my God I'm so nervous!" Turn it around and say "I can't wait to sing, I love to sing and I can do this!" "Hey I won, I won!!" Now go get em!
Audition Advice on Visualization
Photos used with permission.
By Joe Passion Musician, Singer, Songwriter, Producer, Arranger, Tribute Artist - Toronto
How to prepare for an audition Practice your lines, melodies, rhythm, body language and timing as much in advance as possible, until it becomes second nature.
Be the role, find the part in yourself and live in that skin for a while. All the time if possible.
Then prepare something else as well - in addition - but short - a sample - not your life's work. This could be something similar or completely different. Just in case they say, "What else can you do?"
Visualize yourself doing the role - owning the gig. Just try not to spend anything but your time and your talent on an audition.
Or you could just go to MacDonalds and forget about it, you probably won't get it anyway. The odds are against you. What? Okay - so prove me wrong and become the exception to the rule !
Musical Theatre Show Audition Advice for Actors & Singers
This article is courtesy: www.canadianactor.com
I audited a Musical Theatre audition class taught By Susan Schulman and Michael Lichtefled. As the director and choreographer of Broadway shows and National tours such as The Secret Garden, Sound of Music, Camelot, Sunset Boulevard and of course Fiddler, they had much to share about the DO's and DON'T's of musical theatre auditions. I took copious notes and with their approval am sharing the more salient points with you, as they say, straight from the horse's mouth.
THE DAY YOU HEAR ABOUT THE AUDITION
Ask as many questions as possible of your agent. Where is the production to be produced and for how long? Who is directing? Who is the choreographer? What is the vocal range of the part you will be considered for? All this information is available on the breakdown. Do your homework. Know the show... And be familiar with both the libretto and the score. If you are auditioning for a NEW show ask for a reading copy. Usually you can go the producer's office sit there and read it. If the breakdown says not to bring a song from the show, don't believe them. Always have the songs prepared for the role you want to be considered for and have them in your book. Just in case.
"Be prepared to sing two songs" is a euphemism for "you may sing parts of two songs". But bring your whole book and be prepared at a moment's notice to pull out other choices. If the director is interested, he or she might ask to hear another ballad or an up-tempo. The rule of thumb is to have at least 8 - 12 songs you can sing cold and make sure to include selections from the STANDARD musical theatre repertoire (i.e. Lerner and Lowe, or Rodgers and Hammerstein).
Make sure your first choice of material shows you off at your best and shows them your range (i.e. If you are a belter, leave the legit tune until asked.... if you have fabulous top to your voice let them hear it). If the director doesn't know you already they can tell by the first 5 notes whether you can sing or not and want to know that you can act a song. So make actor choices.
Choose a short song or cut the tune by a third. Remember they are probably seeing up to 300 other singers that day. The best 16 bars of a tune will do you much better than a 5 minute drone... If you don't keep them interested they will stop you so make sure your song has a beginning a middle and an end.Have charts prepared that resemble the arrangement you are going to sing, are in your key and that any accompanist can play... or bring your own pianist.
Make sure your resume is an actor's resume, not full of director or choreographer credits. Keep those credits on a separate resume. The last actor a director wants to hire in a show is someone they feel wants their job.
At The Audition
Make sure you are on time or early. If an emergency happens call and let them know you will be late.
From the moment you enter make sure you are the nicest person in the building. The monitor and other surrounding staff are working for the director and you can be assured any negative situation will get back to the director.
Ask the monitor who is in the room. Find out before you enter so you won't be surprised. When you are called in to the room leave all your stuff outside except for your valise and/or your purse. The last thing you want to do is fumble trying to find all your bags after a great audition.
When you enter the room do not race to the table to shake hands unless a hand is offered. Keep a polite and professional distance. After shaking 300 hands, a director could get tennis elbow and more than likely...a cold.
As you enter say "hello" to the table. Tell them what you want to sing and then go talk to the pianist. Keep your instructions brief and make sure you have practiced how to give them the tempo. If you quietly sing the first phrase this will give a good accompanist all the info they will need to know. Rule of thumb: a 3-page chart is OK taped together. Anything larger should be in a book.
If asked if you have anything else to sing, remember they may have just heard 10 other renditions of "What I Did for Love" that morning so be flexible. If you have the recommended 8 - 10 choices ready to go, you won't be put off.
DO NOT use PROPS. Not even a chair. This shows lack of self-possession. Own the space.
Where do you look? Not above the auditioners. If singing an "up" tune feel free to use the folks in front of you as you would an audience. If they are uncomfortable and look away you can easily shift focus away from them. If the song has you singing to another character, you have two choices. Either ask if they mind you playing to them or place your other character in your space, in front of you but slightly off centre. Create the environment. Who are you? Where are you?
Don't hide your body. Be comfortable with your body type no matter what type you are. Dress professionally but appropriately for the show you are auditioning for. Don't wear a costume. You can suggest a period look but be subtle.
Don't choreograph your song unless you are auditioning for ANDY LEE in 42nd street. If they want to see you move they will ask you back to a dance call. Err on the side of stillness.
Don't ask the table how they want to see you attack a song or monologue. Make a choice and go for it. Let the auditioner direct you after they have seen your initial impulse.
Keep the personal chatter to a minimum ... and above all else NO NEGATIVITY about anyone.
If your song gets off on a bad foot.... STOP. Ask to start again. But don't do it 3 times.
Don't back phrase, scoop, etc. Sing your pieces as written. Warm up and above all else make sure you are on pitch. If the notes are questionable get material better suited for your voice.
Singers.... Bring your dance clothes. Dancers ... bring your music. If you are asked to sing after a three-hour dance call make sure you go to the washroom and change clothes. Wear the same clothes to a call back.
If you need glasses wear contacts if possible. Don't lie. References will be checked.
This is an ongoing process. It will take a commitment of time and energy to coach, take classes and have charts prepared. Natural talent is one thing, but directors love meeting knowledgeable professional musical theatre performers. Be prepared and be the best you can hope to be.
Kathy's Advice for Auditions: Pace Your Energy !
If you're auditioning with a lot of other people, you don't know what your exact audition time will be. I remember one cattle call audition I attended where there must have been 500 other singer-actors there. Here's how my day went:
* 5:30 am- I got up, showered, had a sensible breakfast, got dressed, took care with my hair and make-up went over my material, warmed up my voice.
* 7:30 am- Left home, drove downtown in morning rush hour, continued warming up my voice.
* 8:30 am- Drove around looking for parking for 20 minutes.
* 9:00 am- Was there and ready along with hundreds of other hopefuls.
* 12:00 pm- Break for lunch. Had a bite to eat down the road, re-did hair and make-up. My voice had warmed down, so I warmed up again.
* 4:30 pm - I did my 5 minute audition after 11 hours of my body pumping adrenaline.
By the time I auditioned at the end of the day, the panel were clearly tired. I think they had made their choices for the roles. There was no real eye contact, they weren't warm, friendly or welcoming. I was ignored and they even talked as I sang. They wanted OUT OF THERE. In addition to my nerves, my body was fatigued.
We always do our best because we need and want this role. After all the time you spend auditioning, it gets easier the more you do it. But no matter what, it's essential to be rested the night before and to eat healthy. Mind, body and spirit!
Nothing is a waste of time or a failure! Keep at it. Persist gladly!