Voice auditions are nerve-wracking. You walk into a room and are asked to stand on the big X duct taped to the floor facing a panel of people you don’t know! You’re feeling scared, nervous, and stressed. You’re probably silently muttering lyrics to yourself…hopefully not audibly, but who knows depending on how stressed you are. You quickly explain your tempos to the provided pianist, briefly introduce yourself and your piece, sing for about 60 seconds, say “thank you,” and walk out.
Congratulations! You just completed a voice audition!
There aren’t very many careers where your next paycheck depends on a first impression like this one that lasts only a few minutes. Proper preparations won’t change the intrinsic stressful nature of an audition, but it will help you manage your stress, which will allow you to confidently show off yourself and your instrument!
Here are five keyways you can prepare for your next audition.
1. Learn your repertoire
Some auditions will request a specific piece, but most will allow you to sing a selection of your choice. Performers who are good at auditioning have a set list of repertoire that they choose from depending on the type of audition. This list should be practiced regularly so that performing any one of these songs becomes like riding a bike.
Be sure to incorporate variety into your repertoire list. Include songs that are fast as well as slow, that show off your low notes as well as your high notes, that showcase different musical styles and time periods, etcetera. This gives you a diverse set of options to choose from when needed.
2. Show up on time
Showing up late looks bad in almost any professional setting and auditions are no exception. If you miss your time slot, it’s not guaranteed that you will still be heard. Don’t let poor time management be the reason you can’t land a gig. Arriving about 15 minutes early is a good rule of thumb. For all you know, they might be running ahead of schedule or be shuffling around audition slots. Don’t miss your big chance… literally.
3. Come prepared
Every audition is slightly different so reading and following the provided instructions is a must. For example, don’t show up with two ballads when the instructions specifically ask for a ballad AND an up tempo. Having to admit that you didn’t read the directions to the people hosting the audition would negatively affect even the most confident of us. Why do that to yourself 30 seconds before your big moment? It will undermine your success.
The instructions will sometimes indicate, but if they do not, it is a best practice to ALWAYS bring a copy of your music for the accompanist. Put your music in a three-ring binder and clearly mark the passage you will be singing as well as your musical directives, such as breathe marks, ritards, etcetera. Keep in mind page turns, your accompanist will thank you if you can make this easier on them.
4. Conduct yourself with confidence and professionalism
Auditions might seem super different, but they are just like any other job interview (albeit perhaps slightly more high pressure) and you should conduct yourself accordingly.
Wear something professional and appropriate based on the type of audition. Choose something that makes you feel confident. For better or worse, the way you look does matter to an extent in this industry; showing up looking like a slob won’t bode well.
Don’t forget to introduce yourself and your piece before you start singing and to say “thank you” when you are done.
These small things will go a long way in a making a lasting impression.
5. Don’t be so hard on yourself
There will be auditions that, despite proper preparation, result in you forgetting the words to a song you’ve sung a million times or skipping an entire section for no apparent reason. It’s disappointing, but it happens. Knowing how to forgive yourself and move on is key to not letting a flopped audition get in your head and prohibit you from achieving success. Give yourself a set amount of time to mope. Have all those “I’ll never ever get another gig in my entire life!” and “Why am I such a failure?” emotions and then move on. I know this is not as easy as it sounds in practice, but you will have to try! Be kind to yourself.
Auditions are just one of those things that take time, practice, and proper preparation to really get right. I’ve been to more auditions than I can count, and still have the occasional nightmare of showing up not having learned the music. I wake up in a sheer panic! Always remember, that despite all the “scariness,” auditions can also be exciting because they bring new opportunities! Harness that sense of excitement and use it to your advantage!
Break a leg out there!
Written by Amy Barker, a Chicago based musician and writer