First of all: Not all auditions are the same. It is a massive difference if you want to audition for a place at Uni/College, a role in Musical Theatre or Opera, for a band, a choir, for an agency, or if you want to take part in a talent show, festival or competition. It is obviously also a difference if you are auditioning as a professional or amateur (and the latter is not a bad word).
All auditions have one thing in common though: You need to be prepared. This doesn’t just mean to know your songs/repertoire inside out, but also to know in advance what will be expected of you: Can you pick your songs yourself, or will you have to sing something ‘on the spot’, or even have to do some sight-singing? Usually, you will be told in advance what you have to expect (and what is expected of you!), but if in doubt, don’t be afraid to ask, so you have enough time to prepare.
If you are auditioning for Musical Theatre for instance, it is usually a good idea to avoid singing a piece from the show you are auditioning for, unless specifically requested. Pick something from a similar show though: If you are auditioning for a rock musical, don’t bring songs from a 40s musical comedy. Always bear in mind that type-casting is incredibly common, so know your limits – don’t audition with a comedy number if you don’t have the talent for it and cannot present it well for instance.
As a general advice, have a stock of audition repertoire ready for all occasions – you then only need to dust it off for the next audition. Also, and especially for Musical Theatre, have excerpts ready, because very often, you won’t be able to sing the whole song. 16 bar excerpts are incredibly common in Musical Theatre: You can even get ready-made versions, for instance Hal Leonard’s “16 Bar Theatre Audition“, but thinking about it yourself is always a good idea, because it also makes you more aware of your strengths and weaknesses, and how to present yourself in only very little time. If you don’t have an excerpt, it is no drama either, but be prepared that you might be interrupted at any given time before you even had the chance to sing the part you thought shows off your voice best.
Picking the right repertoire is always important, even in the amateur circuit. If you are auditioning for a band or choir, prepare something that fits in with the type of music they do – you wouldn’t audition with a classical aria for a pop choir, and you probably won’t sing Sinatra if you want to be the lead singer of a heavy metal band (Unless you give it some weird and wonderful twist).
Avoid same-y repertoire – I always loved to sing ballads and quite hated uptempo songs because they made me feel much more out of my comfort zone, but it is important to show versatility, so have a good selection of slower and faster songs. Avoid ‘signature songs’ if you can – these are songs that are so closely linked to one particular performer that you will always have trouble cutting it, both because people hear them so often and are virtually sick of them, and because you will have a very hard time to compete with that particular artist. Famous examples would be ‘Cabaret’ (L. Minelli), ‘Over the rainbow’ (J. Garland), ‘My Way’ (F. Sinatra – especially if you are a very young performer with little life experience), to just name a few. If you absolutely feel you need to sing these songs, you either have to be VERY good, or give them a completely new twist and a bit of an edge.
If you are auditioning for a professional production, it is also a good idea (if it has not already been done in advance) to have a résumé and good photos with you. DON’T take amateur shots with the cat on your lap, or self-made portraits with bad lighting! Have them professionally done, it is an investment you absolutely need to make if you don’t want to embarrass yourself. Very often, an instant photo will be taken on the day anyway, so that’s already bad enough 😉 – startled bunny anyone? If you are unsure about how to write a résumé: There is lots of help out there, and it might be worth taking a course or getting professional advice on the matter.
Always remember though: Not getting the part does not mean you are not good enough. It only means that this time, you were not what they were looking for – or maybe you were, but someone else was that bit better suited. So enjoy your performance – the competition is incredibly high, and you will have a very hard time if you expect to get every job you are auditioning for. Very often you won’t, but it is still a very valuable experience that will help you on your journey, and one day, you will be the one who is right for the job.
Best of luck!
© Petra Raspel 2011
- Young actor shares audition tips (rakstagemom.wordpress.com)