April 09, 2015
Tips for Giving the Perfect Vocal Audition
Whether you’re auditioning for a highly coveted spot in your college’s choir or trying out for a televised singing competition, giving the perfect vocal audition can be a nerve wracking experience–even for the professionals. Let’s face it, singing in front of a panel of judges or a selection of audience members who are all judging you can induce performance anxiety in pretty much anyone, even those who perform for a living. So don’t worry–you’re not alone. Fortunately, there are a few tips that can help you ease your nerves and prepare for your audition. From being yourself to dressing the part, take these tips to heart before heading to your next vocal audition.
Nobody can be you better than you, so don’t go into your vocal audition trying to be the next Beyonce or Lady Gaga. At the end of the day, the judges want to see the true you, so select songs that resonate with you in some way, shape, or form. Whether it was a song your grandmother used to sing to you, or the song that inspired you to become a musician in the first place, chances are you’ll put more effort into a performance if the song means something to you. With that in mind, it’s also important to choose a song that’s within your range, preferably something that you’ve already performed in public at least once before. You will make a much better impression by singing something simpler very well than by attempting a song that you simply aren’t capable of singing.
Prepare Your Voice
If you haven’t sung in a while, you simply can’t expect to go to an audition and perform well. Preparing for an audition takes a lot of work, and a good portion of that “work” comes in the form of training your voice. Singing every day is essential for keeping your voice in working order, and don’t forget to warm up. If you know you have an audition coming up, it’s probably not a good idea to go to a concert, spend a day at an amusement park, or partake in any other activity which may put strain on your voice. After all, you only get one chance to woo the judges–you can always head to Disneyland or catch your favorite band another time. If you’re so sick that you have a fever or a sore throat the day of the audition, save yourself the embarrassment and skip the audition altogether.
Dress the Part
Although some shows, like “The Voice” participate in blind auditions, the unsavory truth is that how you look will likely affect the judge’s decision. Make yourself the best version of you that you can possibly be–clean and pressed clothes, clean shoes, and a high level of attention should be paid to personal grooming. Essentially, dress for the audition the way you would for classy date. Don’t wear jeans and sweatshirts, and avoid clothing that’s too tight–you’re already going to be nervous, the last thing you want to worry about is breathing in a dress that’s too small. If you do get called back for a second audition, wear the same outfit and wear your hair and makeup the same way. If they liked what they saw (and heard!) the first time around, don’t risk messing it up by wearing the wrong thing. Plus, if the audition is large, wearing the same outfit can help the judges “remember” you.
Even if you’re a nervous wreck, don’t let the judges know! Enter the stage with confidence, and never apologize for not knowing the song well, wearing the wrong outfit, or anything else you may be concerned about. Ultimately, all an apology does is show the judges that you didn’t care enough about the audition to properly prepare. The way you walk on stage can either make a great impression, or a very bad one. Make sure to keep your shoulders back, your chin at a natural level, keep a smile on your face, and don’t stare down at the floor. If possible, make eye contact with each judge throughout the course of your audition. Finally, be friendly. Although you don’t want to overly talkative (auditions are already long, after all), saying hello and introducing yourself never hurts.
Have Sheet Music Ready
In some instances, you may be asked to prepare sheet music for the pianist. Whatever you do, don’t hand him or her the sheet music in the form of a music book–it makes it too difficult for them to turn the pages. Instead, make a photocopy of the song and tape the edges together so they only have a single piece of sheet music to deal with, instead of three or four. Make sure it’s written out in the right key, and that any changes in tempo, repeats, and codas are all marked clearly in red ink. When you hand the pianist your music, smile and say hello. To give him or her a good idea of the tempo, sing a few bars quietly. In most cases, it’s unprofessional to hand an audition pianist a lead sheet–give them the piano score, instead.
Say Thank You
Last but not least, be gracious and say thank you. Even if you feel you’ve done poorly and you want to run out of the room as quickly as possible, don’t leave without first saying a few words. Thank the panel for their time, and if you have their e-mail address or phone number, reach out to each judge individually in the days following the audition to thank them personally. Just think of it this way: two singers are auditioning for the same role. One is a slightly better performer but has a reputation for showing up late and being difficult to work with, while the weaker singer gets along well with everyone, shows up to practices and performances early, and is always prepared for late nights and surprise practices. Who do you think gets the job?
Have some tips of your own? Sound off in the comments section!
Photo via peter castleton, CC