Help! I’ve got an audition…

Help! I've got an audition…
Girl singing music theatre or classicalI quite often get enquiries from people who need help preparing for an audition; indeed, several of my own singing pupils have needed help along the way too. For some people, it can be an audition for a local amateur dramatic production, but for many, it’s an audition onto an acting or dance course.

Dancers and actors are often surprised to find that many universities and colleges require them to sing at their audition, but it is now reasonably common practice. The most important thing to remember about auditions is that you only have a very limited space of time to show as many skills as possible.

So, how can you get the most out of your audition?

Prepare early…

If you know you’re going to be auditioning for an acting or dance course, find out as soon as you can whether you’ll be expected to sing at your audition. Preferably, find out soon enough that if necessary, you can get some singing lessons in time. A year of lessons before your audition can make a world of difference to your confidence and success. If you’re not able to find out early on, as soon as the information arrives about your audition, check up what you’re going to need to do. If you’re not already having singing lessons, now is the time to book some; a lot can still be achieved in a short space of time.

Know what’s expected…

If you need to sing at your audition, find out as soon as possible what’s expected. What type of song do you need? What level does it need to be at? Is there a time restriction? What skills do you need to show? Who will accompany you?

Choosing a song…

Once you know what’s expected, you can make a better-informed choice about which song to sing. To my mind, there are really two things you need to balance when choosing a song: (1) Something which demonstrates the necessary skills you need to show, and (2) Something which you like and are confident singing. An audition is not necessarily the time to choose something complicated which is really beyond the level you’re at. A lot of people auditioning for dance and drama courses are not singers: it is best to stick to something relatively simple and do it well. You will almost certainly need to obtain the sheet music for your song (a full version, not a lead sheet or chord symbols). If you can get some singing lessons in early enough, your teacher will of couse be able to advise on which songs might be a good choice.

Should I choose a song no one else will do…

Ultimately, this is an impossible question to answer! Quite often people arrive for their few lessons before the audition with a song which has been given to them by someone who’s said “Do this one because no one else will”. To some extent, it is true that audition panels tend to hear the same few songs over and over again, but overall, stick with what you’re confident with. If you’ve got the time and ability to learn something which is outside the box, that’s great: if not, that’s not a problem – giving a confident and well-prepared performance is more important in my view.

Preparing your song…

A lot of people are used to singing along to backing tracks. They normally get a shock when they read their audition papers to find that the venue will provide a piano accompanist. If you’re used to backing tracks, singing to the piano can be a new experience! If you’re going to book some lessons with a singing teacher to prepare for your audition, it is highly preferable that they be able to accompany you on the piano so that you get a clear idea how it’s going to be on the day. Ask them to record your song too so that you can practise it at home.

What are they looking for…

On the whole, each place will be looking for something different, but generally, asking you to sing is a good way of ‘putting you on the spot’; it is a good test of your confidence under pressure, asking you to do something which you’re perhaps not as comfortable with as dancing or singing. Overall, they’re not looking for a ‘finished product’ (they’re not looking to ‘show you up’ either!). The ability to sing in tune and to hold your line against the piano accompaniment is probably expected; being able to show character (particularly if it’s an acting course) and variety is very important: remember, you have just a few minutes to show as many skills as you can. Overall, I think that panels are looking for committment. They’re looking for you to perform as well as possible under pressure; it is always clear on these occasions which performers have put the effort into their preparation and which haven’t: don’t be one of the latter because it shows and it will colour their judgement.

Whatever your audition, be prepared! Don’t leave things until the last minute and if at all possible, get some lessons with a teacher who can help you get the best out of the experience. I’ve worked with a lot of singers preparing for auditions and am quite happy to provide a one-off or short series of lessons here in Lichfield to help you prepare.

If you think you’d like to make a career in the performing arts, then start some singing lessons as soon as possible – they’re a good investment!

 

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