Help! I have an audition!!!

by Jilla Webb

February 22, 2019

Preparing vocally for an audition and preparing mentally for an audition.

Auditions are tough, and you need to know how to prepare mentally and vocally for every audition. We held auditions at the university yesterday, and I thought I’d go over some of the points that we discussed with the students.  It’s also a great idea to start your audition preparation weeks in advance.  You want the muscle memory you build into your vocal and stage performance to be second nature by the time you audition so that when the nerves hit, and they will, you will have practiced enough that getting through the audition will be more comfortable.  You can lean on your training and preparation and not let the nerves pull you mentally out of the game.  Once you get in your head, negatively, it will have an effect on your vocal performance as well.  You need a plan of attack that will prepare you for your audition.

Here are a few tips you can think of when you are preparing for your next audition.

Pitch:  This one is pretty self-evident.  You need to sing in tune.  If you don’t, you should get with a coach and have them help you prepare your audition piece.

Diction: Also straight forward.  If no one can understand you, how with your audience be able to understand and connect with the story you’re trying to tell?

Rhythm:  Did you lose your place in the rhythmic structure of the song?  If you did any scatting, did you use rhythmic variety?

Tone:  Are you supporting your tone?  Is it full-bodied when necessary, are you quiet notes still supported?  Does your tone yet thin and compressed on your high notes?  Are you over belting or are your belt notes appropriately placed and supported?

Stage presence:  Even in an audition, you need to be able to perform like you would on the stage.  It’s always better for the casting director to ask you for less than to wonder if they will be able to pull what they need out of you.  You need to be able to put on a great show for a camera or 10,000 people.  It shouldn’t matter. And I know there are a lot of nerves that go along with auditions, that why it’s so important to have practiced everything 8 million times before you get in that room.  There will still be nerves, but you can fall back on your training.  It’s like developing excellent muscle memory.  It will take over.

Preparation:  Did you follow the guidelines of the audition parameters?  Did you have your songs memorized and did you have all of the appropriate cables necessary to plug in your devices for your music?  If you’re going to use a backing track… please make sure the track is downloaded on to your phone, and you’re not pulling the track up off of YouTube during your audition.  No casting director wants to wait for buffering and then for the ad to run before they hear your song. That is unprofessional.  Also, remember if you are using a backing track off your phone to turn your phone on do not disturb or airplane mode so your track won’t stop when someone texts or calls you. You should always come to an audition with tracks on several different devices because you don’t know exactly what they will use.  Bring the tracks on your phone, and a flash drive unless it is specified in the audition announcement.

Dialog: It is crucial to practice, out loud, what you will say before and after your song.  It shows the casting director that you are comfortable with speaking and delivering a performance from the moment you walk out till the moment you leave the stage. Your performance is not just the song. It’s how you walk into and leave the room and everything you say while you’re there.  Practice your dialog out loud and record yourself with your phone so you can see and hear what you sound and look like.

NOTE: Everything we do in this industry is about communication.  All of the categories we’re talking about communicates to the directors what kind of artist and person you really are.  Do you take yourself and your craft seriously or did you just wing the audition and hope for the best? What kind of person do you think they want to cast?  How trustworthy are you?  If they cast you, they need to know without a doubt that you will deliver a stellar performance each and every time you walk out on to the stage.  They need to know you are reliable. Everything in your audition is communicating who you are and your level of commitment to that casting director.  Everything! Everything from the moment you walk in the room, to what you’re wearing, to how you introduce yourself and your song, to how prepared you are with your technology and your song, to the thank you and exit as you leave the room. Everything is communicating something about who you are and if they should hire you or not.  Everything is about perception and building a professional reputation in this industry. What are you saying about yourself?

Believability:  I always like to include this category because anyone in the audition can get up and sing the notes of the song.  What I’m looking for is are you really connecting with the meaning and intention of the lyrics and can I as the audience member feel that connection.  Your job is to create an experience for the listener, and if you’re not authentically engaged in the experience, to begin with, then your audience won’t connect with the song either.

Song selection:  Make sure you are choosing the appropriate songs for the audition.  Keep in mind what you are auditioning for and what demographic your audience will be. If you’re auditioning for a rock-musical and you sing a jazz song, it’s probably not going to get you the part.