Lights, Camera, Action!

by Sarah McSweeney on February 19, 2012

Let’s say you have an audition coming up and you want to be prepared.  Where do you begin?  Here are some tips to help you to prepare yourself to have a successful audition, one you feel confident in, and proud of.

Choose the Appropriate Material

Find out what they want.  For example, if it’s a musical you’re auditioning for, the directors of the musical may want to hear you sing a song from that particular show, and/or role, you are auditioning for.  Or you may choose a selection that is not from that show, but still relates to the production, while showing off your vocal range, strengths, and capabilities.

For example, I have a student auditioning for the musical “Annie”.  Rather than singing one of the very well known pieces from that musical, we’ve chosen a piece about a motherless child.  So the character of the song has a common theme to the characters in the show, but it’s not likely to be a song that the directors will have heard several times that audition day.  They appreciate the break from the repetition, potentially making her audition more memorable.

Start Practicing Now

Even better, prepare in enough advance so that you can take a break from the song and come back to it again with a fresh perspective.

Memorize Your Selection

This may be stating the obvious, but your piece has got to be memorized.  If it’s not memorized, then you don’t know it well enough to audition with it.  In order to sing and make your performance believable and engaging, memory is necessary so that you can focus on those important elements that come after memorization, such as dynamics, phrasing, expression,  and proper vocal interpretation.  Only when memorization has happened can you fully abandon yourself completely to the meaning and feeling of the song, thus creating a convincing and captivating performance.

Sing For Yourself

Yes, you may be auditioning for a role, a job opportunity, record label, or perhaps a contest of some sort.  But ultimately, you’re not there for the judges or the critics.  Sing that song for yourself, from the depths of your being.  I don’t mean to put up a wall and shut everyone out, by any means.  It’s important to be aware of, and engage your audience.  You can still connect with the listeners and at the same time stay present with your own experience of the song and it’s meaning, rather than being concerned about what “they” might be thinking or experiencing.  Too much concern over what other people think is an invitation for nervousness and insecurity.


….is one of my mottos.  I often tell my students when they are preparing for a performance of any kind to sing it til you can’t stand it, that’s when you really know it.

In my experience, if you sing a song frequently enough so that you can start at any point in the piece and know exactly where you are and how to finish the song from there, at that point you are finally able to really sing it with all the necessary elements, listed in the above paragraph.  (dynamics, phrasing, proper interpretation, and expression)

In essence, after you sing it til you can’t stand it, you’ve got to be willing to make a” fool” of yourself, so to speak, in front of others.  Be willing to drop to your knees, get choked up (as long as it doesn’t interfere with the performance) and emote with every fiber of your being.  If you’re feeling it, the listener is more likely to feel it too.  Then you have an audition that is captivating, exciting, and one that is entertaining to listening to!

Practice in Front of a Live Audience

Rally together friends and family with the purpose of creating an opportunity to get your adrenaline pumping.  Intentionally choose people you will feel nervous in front of, but that are also positive and supportive.  You may ask them to give some supportive feedback, or you may decide you’d rather just have the practice of performing.  Either way it’s great opportunity to feel the nervous excitement and have to perform your song in different situations.

Get a Vocal Coach

Nothing beats a professional that knows what they’re talking about to help you get on track and hone in on what may give your audition that extra sparkle that will make you stand out and shine to the best of your star quality ability!

PS.  For some additional tips on proper vocal care and exercises, here is a great page I found:

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