Ten ways to effectively prepare for a singing audition

Audition season is here again! It’s a wonderfully exciting time of the year for many singers and musicians, whether you’re aspiring for University Study, Specialist Schools, TV Shows, Stage Productions, Long Term Contracts or even a gig at the local pub. I work with many students and professionals to help them achieve their best at audition, so I thought I would share with you a selection of the most frequently addressed ideas to consider before the day:

1) Preparation is key. What is expected of you in the audition? Will there be an accompanist or do you need to accompany yourself? Should you take a recorded backing track? What format should this recording be? Do you need photocopies of your music? Will you have to sight read? If you are properly prepared, it helps you to feel confident that you know what you’re getting into and can help avoid last-minute jitters.

Piano

2) Be organised. This does lie hand in hand with point one, but it’s important so I’ll rephrase it: One of the best ways to feel good about your audition is to be organised about it. Plan your music, check and double-check that you’ve prepared everything correctly and pack your bag the night before so it’s ready to collect before you head out the door. This should include stuff like: Your music, any photocopies, your backing track, the details of the audition, directions of how to get there, some change for the parking meter, etc. Think about potential problems (such as roadworks or train delays, perhaps?) in advance so no weird obstacles can fluster you on the day.

3) Practise your pieces thoroughly. Preferably with your voice coach or singing teacher. Whilst practising, a useful tactic is to highlight the most tricky part in the piece for you. I’ll explain why in Point 8. (The hardest part for you could be different for another singer so only consider your own vocal challenges here.)

4) Choose a piece of music that suits your voice. If you enjoy singing it, if it sounds great and if you can show off how well you can sing, there’s probably nothing better!

5) Know what you’re singing about. If you’re performing something in another language then it’s pretty important to find yourself a decent translation. It could be awfully embarrassing to sing a song about death really jovially (depending on your interpretation, I suppose?!) If you’re singing a piece from a Musical or from an Opera, research the story and know where your character fits in.

6) If you are sharing photocopies of your sheet music, make sure you sing the music that is written. If you decide to dramatically stray from this notation or change the genre (eg. making a pop song a folk song etc.) explain why you chose to do so. Musical freedom allows us to embellish or change a piece to our own desire, but it’s important, in the case of an audition, to explain your performance decisions and to show that you can read the music that you’re actually using.

7) Look after your voice. Keep well hydrated and don’t overwork your voice just before an audition. You want to perform at your best which means keeping your voice really healthy.

8) Warm up before you get there. More often than not, there will be a practice room, but it’s always better to be safe than sorry. Once you’ve warmed up properly, rather than singing through the whole piece, just sing through that tough section you highlighted in your earlier practice. (See Number 3) That way, you’ve rehearsed the hardest part and the rest should be a breeze once you’re in there.

9) Remember that you’re auditioning them too! This is so frequently forgotten or overlooked in the excitement of an audition, it can be quite calming to remember that you want to check out the school/team/facilities/town/theatre/pub to see if it’s what you were hoping for and if it is right for you.

10) Last but not least, keep a portfolio. It’s a fabulous tool for a singer and a smart way of logging your feedback. Listen to what is said about you and about the song(s) you chose to sing. You can keep this feedback in your portfolio and refer back to it so that you know how to improve a song for next time, or so you remember to use that piece again another time!

There are so many things to consider when getting ready for an audition and one audition can be very different from another. Ultimately, you will have to make your own choices on how to prepare in order to achieve your best, but I hope this gives you an idea of where to start. Good luck to you!!

I also wonder if you have any of your own audition tips to share? Please add your ideas below – you never know who might benefit!

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