Singers Audition Do’s and Dont’s

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Do arrive on time and prepared. Tardiness will reflect poorly on you, as no one will want to hire or work with someone who is unreliable or inconsiderate of others who must wait on them in order to start rehearsals and performances. No one likes a self-centered diva.

Do dress appropriately. Your outfit should reflect your personality. However, it should be neither too revealing nor too modest (e.g., loose and frumpy to the point where it hangs off you in an unflattering manner). Avoid costumes and overly quirky or eccentric attire – unless you are auditioning for a band that would expect you to have a unique look – or you may not be taken seriously as an artist. The outfit should appear clean and pressed. If you have a long drive to the audition, consider changing into your audition clothing at the venue. If it is likely that you will have a long waiting time, be sure to dress comfortably. For women, ensure that, if you wear high heels, you can walk and move gracefully in them. Clumsy tripping is not the kind of entrance that you will want to be remembered for. Above all, the clothing that you choose to wear should not interfere with your ability to sing. It should, therefore, not be tight-fitting or constricting to the point where your ability to breath efficiently and support your tone is affected.

Do warm up your voice before entering the audition room. This may be challenging with others around who are also warming up, but it is important that your voice be ready to give its best show. Don’t be self-conscious if others are around. The only judgment of your voice that matters will be the one that the audition panel gives you.

Do remain hydrated throughout the day of your audition in order to effectively lubricate your vocal folds so that they will function optimally.

Don’t allow your nerves to get the better of you. Nervousness can weaken your voice by making it sound shaky and uncontrolled. While it is normal to be nervous, do your best to hide how you are feeling. Nerves are often interpreted as a lack of confidence and experience.

Don’t allow yourself to become intimidated by the other singers around you. While some of them may have more vocal training or skills or experience than you have, that doesn’t necessarily mean that they will get the part over you – (they may not be right for it) – or that they will be moved on to the next round of auditions instead of you. Don’t psyche yourself out, because your fear and doubt surrounding your abilities may negatively affect you during your audition, making you appear more nervous and self-conscious before the judges. Convince yourself that you have just as much business being there and auditioning as those other singers do.

If you are auditioning for a choir and you must audition with a solo, don’t become obsessed with having to sing by yourself when you are more comfortable singing within a group. In a lot of cases, the choir director is not auditioning you as a soloist, (or even a potential soloist), expecting your voice to have a certain quality, but is going to be listening instead for how well you articulate your words, how well you pronounce the words in a foreign language piece, how well you will blend with the rest of the ensemble, or how well you can hold a tune.

Do try to enjoy yourself and think positively about the audition experience. It can be rewarding on so many levels. Try to learn what you can, and expect that you will be better at auditioning on the other side of this audition.

An audition often includes a bit of an interview component in which singers will be asked to provide resumes or fill out forms asking for biographical information, and answer questions about their training and performance experience. Do come prepared with a list of the shows that you have been in, and the roles that you have played.

Do appear to be proud of your achievements and don’t be apologetic for your lack of accomplishment or training so far in your career. The panel may not be looking for the most experienced performer or the most highly trained vocalist. Rather, the directors may be seeking someone with presence, personality and an impalpable quality about them over someone with exceptional skills. Also, you may be asked to ‘promote’ yourself, just as you would in any other interview, so be prepared to tell the judges why you feel that you are the right person for the role (e.g., why you believe that you could be the next American Idol). Think through your responses ahead of time so that you can articulate them well, which will help you to appear confident.

Do be mindful of how you carry and present yourself from the moment that you enter the room to the moment that you exit it. The judges will be looking for confidence but not cockiness, and friendliness but not inappropriateness or a lack of interpersonal boundaries. Confidence in your own skills is necessary in order to succeed on stage as a performer and to sell yourself to an audience. Cockiness or arrogance, on the other hand, makes you difficult to work with or resistant to following direction, and they suggest that you are unwilling to learn and grow as an artist.

Do smile. A genuine smile will make you appear pleasant to work with and less nervous, and will invite feelings of goodwill amongst everyone in the room.

Do be yourself. If you are hired either because of the personality or the style that you present during your audition, you will be expected to be that same person or vocalist later on. Faking takes a lot of energy, and you will eventually be found out.

If you are going to be auditioning without instrumental accompaniment (i.e., a cappella), do use a pitch pipe – a harmonica-like device with marked openings for different notes that is used to give a singer a pitch reference (i.e., a starting note) – or find a nearby piano and strike the correct key to give you your ideal starting pitch. Another trick that can be employed when singing a cappella if a pitch pipe would be too noticeable or awkward and if a musical instrument is not available is to inaudibly (e.g., either very quietly so that the judges won’t hear or silently in your head) sing the highest note of the song, then find your starting note in relation to that highest note. For example, if the highest notes occur in the chorus – more often than not, they do – quickly run through that chorus in your head, imagining yourself singing those notes in the ideal range of pitches for your voice.

Once you have finished singing through the chorus in your head, begin singing the verse aloud for the judges. Nearly all singers are able to use this trick successfully, as it is difficult to imagine themselves singing notes that they are physically incapable of singing or that are in weaker parts of their ranges. The judges likely won’t mind if you take a brief moment to find your starting place before beginning to sing your audition selection. Few people have perfect pitch – which does not mean singing perfectly on tune all the time – and it’s very easy to start out a song in the wrong key, especially when nervousness is present. Beginning a song either too high or too low can make you struggle to sing the highest or lowest notes of the song, which may lead to pitch errors and poor tone as you attempt to cover up for the difficulties reaching those notes. Even though the judges may be sympathetic and will recognize what has happened, they will nevertheless be unimpressed and may not allow you a do over.

Do move a little as you sing, but avoid excessive or exaggerated movements. Also, avoid cliche or ‘theatrical’ hand gestures and poses. You want to come across as lively and interesting, not cheesy and over the top. Resist the urge to snap your fingers either to keep yourself on tempo or to look like you’re singing ‘in the groove’.

Do not move around very much with your feet. While a little movement over the audition space will probably be acceptable to the judges, you don’t want to dizzy them by nervously pacing on the stage, rocking back and forth or side to side, or dancing frenetically. You want to show that you are feeling the song with your whole body, but you don’t want to shake your head or move too dramatically.

Do make eye contact with the judges. They will be looking for someone who has confidence and who will be able to connect with and engage an audience. It is usually okay to close your eyes, but only briefly and infrequently. Closing your eyes, though, may be interpreted as a sign of discomfort with singing in front of an audience, as a lack of self-confidence or as shyness.

Don’t become visibly flustered or stop singing if you make a mistake. Instead, continue on with singing your piece as if nothing has happened. In a live performance setting, this is precisely what you would have to do, and the panel of judges may be looking to see that you are quick on your feet and can successfully cover up your mistakes, hiding them from an audience and critics. If the people who are evaluating your skills point out the mistake or comment on it, it is fine to acknowledge that you were aware of it, but don’t apologize, give excuses, beg and plead to start over or begin crying. They may be looking to see that you can accept criticism or direction, or that your internal ear is capable of recognizing when your vocal performance is less than perfect. There is also no need for you to voluntarily bring your error to the judges’ attention. It is possible that they may not have even noticed it, or that it wasn’t really that significant to them.

Don’t panic or get discouraged if the person who is auditioning you doesn’t make eye contact with you while you are singing. Sometimes a choir director or judge will close his or her eyes or look away in order to be able to listen more critically to the texture of your voice without the distraction of watching you. His or her lack of direct eye contact does not necessarily mean that he or she is not paying attention to your singing or is not enjoying your audition.

Do invite and accept constructive feedback so that you may continue to learn, grow and improve your auditioning and singing skills.

Do not become combative or argumentative – (again, no one likes a diva) – but humbly listen to and accept what the judges have to say about your performance and their reasons for either accepting or rejecting you. Their critique may help you to do better at your next audition, or in the next round of auditions. Additionally, you may encounter these same judges in a future audition or working situation, and you don’t want to give them a lasting undesirable impression of you. Don’t burn bridges, professionally speaking. While you may not be right for the particular part or competition that you are auditioning for this time, you may be right for the next role that these same judges are casting for, and they may think of you first because you stood out in a positive way when they first met you. Sometimes, you are simply not what they are looking for right now, and their rejection of you is not a reflection of what they truly think of your talent.

Do thank the judges for their time, and let them know that you have appreciated the opportunity that they have given you to sing for them. (You would do the same at any other job interview.)

Credit: Article sourced from Singwise