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audition songs for altos

8 Dazzling Audition Songs for Alto Voices

Do you have an audition coming up? Selecting the right song to show off your abilities is key. Here, Hayward, CA teacher Molly R. shares her top picks for audition songs for altos…

 

Altos are just fabulous! Your easy low notes and rich tone make so many great types of music suitable to you: jazz, pop, classical, and so on. So, what do you pick as an audition piece to best show off that special voice type of yours? Here are a few suggestions in various genres that may suit you!

Old Standards:

“Stormy Weather” — here’s a classic torch song with lots of emotion and a truly gorgeous vocal line, making it the perfect audition song for an alto interested in jazz. It was written by Harold Arlen, who composed the music for “Wizard of Oz”. There are many fantastic renditions out there, but Lena Horne’s is one of the best:

“River of No Return”  – this is a song from the Marilyn Monroe movie of the same name. This is a lovely song that is rarely performed because it sits very, VERY low — perfect for true alto voices!

Pop/Rock:

“Constant Craving” — who doesn’t love this song? It’s an interesting hybrid of jazz and pop. k.d. lang’s flawless performance definitely inspires. This song can go anywhere — an audition for a band, a cabaret show… you name it!

“I Feel the Earth Move” from Carole King’s album “Tapestry” was made for pop/rock altos. All of her songs on this album are excellent, but this is one of the uptempo songs for some contrast. Not only is this a great audition song for bands, talent shows, and open mics, but it also works for musical theatre, since there is now a Broadway show (“Beautiful”) that features all Carole King songs!

Musical Theatre:

“If He Really Knew Me” — this is a very moving ballad from “They’re Playing Our Song” by Marvin Hamlisch. It’s perfect for musical theatre altos who consider themselves more pop-ish, rather than brassy belters. The other plus to this song is that audition panels usually love hearing it, since it’s far from overdone!

“I’ve Got The Sun in the Morning” — this older show tune from Irving Berlin’s beloved “Annie Get Your Gun” is uptempo and just plain fun! A wide variety of lower-voiced ladies have performed this (including Doris Day and Reba McEntire!), but here is the original performer, the great belter Ethel Merman:

Classical:

“Stride la vampa” — this is only for mature altos who have studied and performed for many years! Verdi is definitely meant for the professionals. This very dramatic operatic aria from “Il Trovatore” will show off your trill, your low chest notes, and your acting chops as well. Here is the great Marilyn Horne, who happens to have ALL of that and then some!

“Oh Thou That Tellest” from Handel’s “Messiah” — you simply can’t go wrong with this. If you’re a classical singer, you know that being prepared with “Messiah” can be lucrative, especially if you do lots of concert work. This aria is appropriate for auditions for church gigs, vocal competitions, and music programs everywhere.

Of course, the best resource for repertoire is your voice teacher! He or she really knows your voice and abilities, and can work with you in finding the perfect audition songs for altos to best show you off, musically, vocally, and dramatically. Part of the fun of being a singer is discovering the repertoire that speaks to you, and there are many qualified voice teachers out there who would love to help you with that — especially you wonderful, rare altos!

mollyrMolly R. teaches online and in-person singing lessons in Hayward, CA. Her specialties include teaching beginner vocalists, shy singers, children, teens, lapsed singers, and older beginners. She joined TakeLessons in November 2013. Learn more about Molly here!

 

 

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how to sing tenor

6 Showstopping Audition Songs Perfect for Tenors

Have an audition coming up? For tenors, selecting the right repertoire and learning how to sing tenor parts that really showcase your vocal type is key. Here, Hayward, CA teacher Molly R. offers her suggestions…

 

So, you call yourself a tenor! That’s a wonderful voice type to have — there are not as many of you higher-voiced males! Finding vocal repertoire in a baritone-heavy world is not always easy, but what IS written for tenors is just marvelous and bound to impress if you’ve got the technique! Here are a few audition songs for tenor voices in a variety of styles.

“Yesterday” is my first recommendation. Yes, it is a fact: The Guinness World Records says it’s the most covered song in the world, but only true tenors can sing it in the original key as composed by Sir Paul McCartney (who happens to be an excellent example of a tenor). In fact, any Beatles song would be a great choice if you’re auditioning for a pop contest or auditioning for a band. Lots of baritones would love to be able to sing these songs in the original keys. Lucky you: you CAN!

Want to keep it more current? Look at some Ed Sheeran songs! “Thinking Out Loud” is a wonderful moderate-tempo song that can work for a variety of auditions, shows, or events.

For musical theatre, there are plenty of excellent choices and it can be very hard to narrow it down! “Something’s Coming” from “West Side Story” would show off your musicality, range, AND your acting chops:

For more current musical theatre, have a look at “Passeggiata” from “The Light in the Piazza”. It’s a graceful number for a young singer learning how to sing tenor parts! A classically trained tenor wanting to “cross over” into musical theatre could easily pull this off, but so could a more pop-ish tenor.

Lastly — opera! Yes, when we think “tenor” we usually think of powerful, ringing high notes in heroic sounding arias. Below are two for you to consider:

First, “Una furtiva lagrima” is a gorgeous aria from Donizetti’s “Elixir of Love”. This is suitable for a first aria for young lyric tenors: not only will it show your understanding of “bel canto” (which means “beautiful singing “ in Italian!), but it’s another chance to show off your acting skills. You’re pining for your love here! No surprise — this IS opera, after all! Here is the great Luciano Pavarotti performing it:

Another idea is “Nessun Dorma” from “Turandot”. Important note: this aria is ONLY to be attempted by tenors who have been studying seriously for a long time! This is a heavier aria by Puccini that requires impeccable technique. This aria is so beloved that even Aretha Franklin attempted it! It’s a real crowd-pleaser that will get them on their feet if you can nail those high Cs.

The most important resource for appropriate vocal repertoire — and learning how to sing tenor well — is your voice teacher, of course. He or she can assess if you are ready for these songs or arias. If you are, fantastic! Also remember that it goes beyond vocal technique and the audition panels want to see that you are confident and know what you are singing about, too. Break a leg!

mollyrMolly R. teaches online and in-person singing lessons in Hayward, CA. Her specialties include teaching beginner vocalists, shy singers, children, teens, lapsed singers, and older beginners. She joined TakeLessons in November 2013. Learn more about Molly here!

 

 

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5 Stereotypes that Lead Singers Face – and How to Overcome Them

5 Stereotypes Lead Singers Face (& How to Overcome Them)

5 Stereotypes that Lead Singers Face – and How to Overcome ThemDo you sing with a band? If so, you may have been wrongfully accused of one of the many stereotypes lead singers face — even if you’re always on your best behavior! Here, St. Augustine, FL voice teacher Heather L. shares her tips for proving them wrong…

 

I’m the lead singer — uh, make that the only singer — of two bands, an acoustic duo and a guitar/drum/piano/mandolin group. And as much fun as I have in each rehearsal, and as well as I get along with my bandmates, being a lead singer can be, well, weird. I’m always learning that lead singers face a lot of expectations, pressures, and especially stereotypes. I’m also always learning to push past them. Here’s a list of five stereotypes that people who sing with a band can face, and how to rise above!

1. Lead singers are pushy princesses or princes.

We’re thought to be super bossy, directing the entire rehearsal, dictating precise tempos, and rearranging set order again and again. And while there’s nothing wrong with expressing your opinion, just remember: it’s not what you say, it’s how you say it. Be sure to make your voice heard in a respectful and calm way, or you might just find yourself looking for a new band!

2. Lead singers need to be the center of attention (all the time).

While it’s not cool to be an ultimate diva, this stereotype actually makes sense. I mean, the lead singer is the center of attention much of the time. It’s not our fault. But a team is a team, and it’s important to let every member show off individual talents. Let every member of your band have a solo once in a while. That way, everyone shines on stage.

3. Lead singers know squat about music theory.

Okay, so maybe, sometimes, we lead singers believe that we can get by on our good looks. But some lead singers not only have a decent amount of theory knowledge, but also maintain serious theory geek status. If your bandmates josh you every time you forget the relative minor of C major, then just avoid talking about music. Or, better yet, ask your voice teacher to help you brush up on your theory with a great curriculum book, like Alfred’s Essentials of Music Theory. It’s easy, fun and you’ll be able to learn music in less time.

4. Lead singers are high maintenance.

We need our particular teas and our certain bottles of water, and, “oh, no thank you, we don’t drink any dairy beginning three weeks before a gig.” Some of these “high maintenance” behaviors are simply good vocal health habits, especially when you sing with a band. But remember, a professional never panics and always maintains a proper perspective. So don’t flip out if you can’t make a cup of Throat Coat before band practice!

5. Lead singers are ditzy airheads.

We’re always late to practice. We’re always forgetting our music. Lead singers are not known for perfect attendance or organization skills. But we can all help change that! How? By being punctual, organized, and just, well, considerate of other band members.

Overcoming the stereotypes that lead singers face is ultimately about seeing yourself as the best kind of leader — the one who sees themselves in the trenches with everyone else. Remember, your bandmates are the people who you make music with. In the long run, overcoming the stereotypes that lead singers face will help you to become a better singer and a better band.

HeatherLHeather L. teaches singing, piano, acting, and more in St. Augustine, FL, as well as through online lessons. She is a graduate of the prestigious Westminster Choir College in Princeton, New Jersey, and has performed with the New York and Royal Philharmonics, the New Jersey and Virginia Symphonies, the American Boy Choir, and the internationally renowned opera star Andrea Bocelli. Learn more about Heather here!

 

 

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7 Singing Experts Share Their Best Music Biz Advice

7 Singing Experts Share Their Best Music Biz Advice

Here at TakeLessons, we’re passionate about helping students achieve their dreams, reach their potential, and receive the guidance they need from professionals ready to pass on valuable singing tips, knowledge, and encouragement. We talk about our singing teachers a lot, and have even featured many of them here on the blog. But we also know there’s a lot of advice worth noting in other corners of the web.

So we scoured the Internet, searching for other professionals, vocal coaches, and performers who could provide their own two cents — namely, what does it take to “make it” in the music industry? For those singers who aspire to be in the studio, on stage, or breaking records, what does it really take to get there? What one piece of advice would you give to someone who wants to be a professional singer? Here’s the advice we rounded up.

Tom Burke

Sign up for Tom’s Broadway VoiceBox program here!

Mark Baxter

Wade Sutton

Download Wade’s eBook, “The $150,000 Music Degree” here!

Cheryl Engelhardt

Download Cheryl’s eBook, In The Key of Success, here! (Note: She’s actually one of our teachers, too!)

Kimberley Smith

Nicola Milan

Judy Rodman

Readers, what do you think? What are the best singing tips you’ve ever received about breaking into the music industry? Let us know in the comments section below!

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Vocal Audition Crimes

Vocal Audition Crimes: 3 Mistakes That Turn Judges Off

Vocal Audition CrimesHave an audition coming up? You may know what TO do, but what about what NOT to do? Take a look at these tips for singing auditions in this guest post by Glendale, CA voice teacher Ben M...

 

Let’s face it: auditions are nerve-wracking. You’re presenting your talent for somebody else’s approval, and that’s not easy to do. But auditions can also be a ton of fun and lead to amazing changes in your life. It’s incredibly important to make auditions a habit, even if you’re happy with where you are in your singing career. The more auditions you attend, the easier it will be to convince yourself to go to the audition in the first place, the better you will perform, and the more likely any given audition will lead to the result you want. We’ve already covered the things you SHOULD do at an audition in a previous post. Here are the top three vocal audition crimes to avoid.

1. Letting Your Fear Take Over

A teacher once had to convince me that my anxiety over auditioning has exactly 0% benefit to my performance. Many of us believe that our anxiety will somehow prepare us to perform and will cause us to do a better job because we “take it more seriously.” But there’s a difference between anticipation and anxiety.

It’s great to be mentally prepared and aware of what will be expected of you at an audition. But the moment it crosses over to stress, you’re wasting valuable physical and emotional energy. You’ve crossed over to the dark side, where you’re now faced with the risk of psyching yourself out, forgetting your lyrics, or creating unnecessary tension in your voice. If you find yourself in this position, take a deep breath, count to 10, remind yourself that it’s just an audition, and RELAX. Just as with vocalization, the only way to see the results you want is to let go and allow your body to arrive at and STAY at a place of rest.

2. Not Knowing Your Words By Heart

There’s never an excuse not to know your lyrics at an audition. In fact, there’s every reason to ensure you know them by heart. It’s not just to prove you know the words – it’s about internalizing the song and spending time with it, which is one of the important tips for singing well. Once you learn how to efficiently memorize lyrics, it can actually be quite fun. The process allows you to apply your own voice to the song and make little changes in phrasing and intonation. Methods vary depending on how you learn best, but I have always found that memorizing a song line by line yields the quickest results. Sing through one line of a song until you know it, then start from the top of the song and sing up to the line you just learned. It may seem like it takes longer this way, but you’ll find that you internalize the tune much faster. Remember to do your core memorization at least one night before – you’ll find that the words come much easier the next day.

3. Going Too Far Out Of Your Sweet Spot

Not everybody agrees with me here, but an audition is not the time to try something you’ve never done before. Nor is it the time to try to sound like somebody you have never sounded like. It’s tempting for singers to go over the top and show the outermost range of what they can do, but the problem with this is that you are exposing your limits to the folks auditioning you. In the process, you’re taking the attention away from what it is you do best. When an audition notice asks to “see your range,” be smart about your choices. Make sure that your audition piece is 90% in your sweet spot – the tried and true range and timbre of your voice. If you like, you can add a few special embellishments that show the tip of the iceberg, but don’t make that uncharted territory the meat of your audition. Besides the weakness-exposure factor, you’ll find that whatever anxiety you do carry into the audition will not work in your favor if you’re trying to hit higher notes or mask your voice with a tone that isn’t yours.

Lastly, don’t go at it alone! Consulting a vocal coach is a necessity before attending a big audition. Besides helping you brush up on technique, a good coach will also be able to critique your audition and help you pinpoint weak spots, preparing you for an easy audition process that you can repeat again and again.

Readers, what other tips for singing auditions have helped you? Let us know in the comments below!

Ben

Ben M. teaches music performance and singing in Glendale, CA. He attended Northeastern University and is currently studying voice at Brett Manning Studios. Learn more about Ben here!

 

 

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singing

How to Deal With the 6 Most Embarrassing Singing Mistakes

singingDo you get nervous when singing, or maybe right before a vocal performance? You’re not alone. Thinking about all of the worst-case scenarios can be scary! Luckily, these situations aren’t the end of the world. Read on as Austin, TX teacher Gfire M. shares how to deal…

 

If we lived in a perfect world, our voice would always sound 100% our best, the venues would always love our choice of material and provide the best sound reinforcement possible, and we’d never, ever, ever make any mistakes on stage. But realistically, the magical, musical Murphy’s Law will ensure that you encounter some of these worst-case gig scenarios. But instead of letting your nervous energy take over, use these tips to cope with grace.

1. You forgot the words to your song

This particular problem is actually easy to deal with for us creatives! You can repeat a verse that you do remember, or you can even make up some words on the spot. At least 90% of your audience won’t notice!

2. You have to sing even though you’re sick

This problem is more difficult. Plan to get extra sleep on the night before the gig if possible. Drink extra water, Throat Coat tea (with honey, if you like), or perhaps some raw juices to get things flowing. Make sure to pack ibuprofen and throat drops for the show to help you feel better. Then, just do the best you can.

3. You can’t hear yourself on stage

This is also a difficult problem. If you don’t play an instrument, you can hold one ear shut with your finger so that you can hear yourself internally while the other ear listens to the band. For a long-term solution, you may find that in-ear monitors offer you a better opportunity to hear the band and yourself in a mix that is programmed to your needs.

4. The venue doesn’t like your music, singing, band, etc.

This problem is horrible, but it does happen! Just do your best to be as professional as possible and get through the gig — hopefully getting your full pay at the end. And then, never perform at that venue again. There’s always another venue that will totally love your music, singing, and band.

5. You’re nervous about singing that spot in the song that you never really hit in tune…

There are a few ways to approach this problem. The first is to have an alternate note ready to sing instead of the problem note. You can then work on hitting the note better at home, while having an easier note to hit in the meantime on stage. Or you can practice like crazy on that note at home and just go for it as best as possible at the gig. Again, at least 90% of the people will not hear whether you hit the note or not. It’s just one note among the thousands you sing in any one night.

6. You forgot your microphone, mic stand, music, music stand, etc.

Facing this problem can be easy or hard, depending on your circumstances! If you live close enough to go back to your house or wherever you’re staying, just tell whomever is in charge that you’re going back to get this vital piece of musical equipment, and that you’ll do your best to get back on time. If this is impossible, you just have to improvise. If you’re prepared, you have stashed away a spare mic in your bag, or perhaps one of your bandmates has a mic or mic stand you can borrow. Just do the best you can.

At its best, the music industry can be quite challenging. While getting nervous when singing is normal, it doesn’t have to take over your performance. If you can maintain an attitude of flexibility and a willingness to do whatever is necessary to help your gig go well, you will be primed for a successful singing career!

Gfire

Gfire teaches music theory, opera voice, piano, singing, and songwriting in Austin, TX. She earned her Bachelor of Arts in Music from University of Maryland, as well as her Master of the Science of Singing from Ernest George White Society. Learn more about Gfire here!

 

 

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Singing - An Important Step in Learning How to Speak

The Surprising Advantage Singers Have Over Most People

Singing - An Important Step in Learning How to SpeakWhat makes a good public speaker? Whether you want to improve your communication skills or overcome a fear of speaking, you’re already at an advantage if you have a background in singing (or music in general). Read on as San Diego, CA teacher Carl M. explains…

 

I could go on and on expounding on all the reasons singing lessons are a valuable tool for millions of individuals – whether or not a career in music is intended. However, the one that emerges foremost in my mind has very little to do with singing.

So why mention it?

Having spent most of my life juggling the business world with the artistic side of music, singing, and theatre, I made a unique discovery relating what makes a good public speaker to that of being a singer/musician. For more than 40 years I’ve trained singers, and managed international sales and marketing teams in various industries. While there are many singers in this world, they are dwarfed by those who speak (or should I say, blabber).

While I generally enjoy listening to a well-trained singer, it became painfully clear to me many years ago that individuals who are charged with speaking to groups are usually ill-prepared to do so in a manner that keeps my attention. This ranges from professional speakers to teachers to clergy in virtually every denomination. What’s missing? Well, there are actually two common threads evident throughout.

Most People Aren’t Directly Taught Speaking Skills

First, the function of reading out loud, which can train the ear as effectively as early music instruction, is generally frowned upon during early education.

Think about when you were first learning how to read — pronouncing each word out loud, then two-word phrases, then sentences, and then paragraphs. Then as soon as you really felt good about what you were doing, your teacher told you to read silently, and to absorb the meaning internally. If you moved your lips while reading, your teacher likely stopped you. So that was the end of any oral communication vis-a-vis reading. No more practicing reading and listening skills… skills that would last a lifetime. The student taking music or singing lessons has a distinct advantage here, which we’ll discuss next.

The Correlations Between Singing and Speaking

The second, and certainly the most direct correlation between singing and speaking, is that contained in terms singers learn early on: tone, rhythm, pausing, dynamics, and phrasing.

  • Tone, as taught to a singer, involves the proper placement of vowel sounds, mouth formation, proper breathing, etc. These same tenets apply to the speaker (but without the need to read music).
  • Rhythm has a very distinct meaning to every musician. However, transferring that technique to speaking is lost on virtually everyone who professes to be a “speaker.”
  • Pauses are quite natural in the music world for dramatic impact. The old adage of “Silence is Golden” actually applies more to a speaker’s performance than it does to that of a singer, as the singer is reading music notation and observing dictated, periodic rests. However, most speakers are either too nervous to notice – or they just love the sound of their own voice.
  • Dynamics are simple. Loud vs soft. Again, a singer is trained in this area from very early on, but most speakers have one volume. Wouldn’t it be cool if the speaker observed some variation as well?
  • Phrasing is probably the most difficult concept for both the singer and speaker to understand (and implement). However, it is also the most meaningful. With the proper phrasing, the gut-level meaning of a song comes to life. The same is true when speaking. However, some speakers have a tendency to “punch” words, rather than using proper phrasing.

I have been training speakers in the corporate world during the past several years, and the pool from which to draw students is enormous – and eventually will have a greater impact upon society and communication in general. However, I find that if a student has a music or singing background, it makes it considerably easier to learn and understand what makes a good public speaker.

Over a series of lessons, my students learn what these techniques are, and how to effectively put them to use. You’ll be a more interesting and believable public speaker, allowing the audience to fully understand and retain the information you’re offering. Isn’t that what we all want?

Carl M

Carl M. teaches public speaking and writing in San Diego, CA. A Music and Theatre graduate of the University of Wisconsin, Carl fuses his education and entrepreneurial endeavors to help students improve their everyday communication within their personal and business communities. Learn more about Carl here!

 

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Overlooked Parts of a Successful Vocal Performance

3 Often-Overlooked Parts of a Successful Vocal Performance

Overlooked Parts of a Successful Vocal PerformanceStage presence makes a huge difference in how your audience will respond to you. Take a look at these performance tips from NY music teacher Nadia B...

 

You’ve practiced, rehearsed, and it’s finally time to share your vocal arts with others. Sometimes, though, components of a successful performance can be overlooked after you’ve spent so much time mastering the music. Key elements of stage presence for singers include setting a unique musical intention, making use of physical space and gestures, and creating connection in the moments directly before and after you sing, all of which will guarantee that you create an unforgettable and enjoyable performance.

Establishing Your Musical Intention

What makes live performance enjoyable is the spontaneity created by the performer-audience connection. It can never be the same twice. You can take advantage of this fact by taking a moment before your performance, or in the rehearsals leading up to your performance, to set a unique musical intention. What is a desired feeling you want to convey in each piece, in this performance? You can take into account the audience makeup (is it children, friends and family, judges of a singing competition, or the general public?), and the personal significance of the music for you. Setting this intention will ensure that your performance is meaningful and spontaneous, since you are interacting with the aesthetic of the music in a current and engaged way.

Making Use of Physical Space

Another element that differentiates stage presence for singers from other musicians is that singers are in a unique position to make use of physical space, both within their own bodies and in the environment. For this reason, an important part of your performance as a singer is to consider the physical possibilities. Are there certain times that movement would emphasize the musical setting or mood? Also consider physical gestures as a way to underline the key musical characteristics of each piece. Sometimes simply becoming aware of the space around you is enough – even if you don’t incorporate movement or gestures, this awareness can allow you to fully expand into the space physically, energetically, and vocally.

Creating a Connection With Your Audience

Lastly, consider the first and last things you do in your singing performance: you greet and express your gratitude toward the audience for sharing your musical journey with you. These moments play a key part in creating a well-rounded performance. When you enter the stage, a sincere bow can establish an immediate connection with your listeners, and taking your time as you walk along the stage, bow, and prepare to begin singing can allow your audience to settle in and join your journey with ease. A rushed or nervous entrance can draw the attention away from the music and unsettle the audience.

At the end of the performance, a gracious bow allows the audience to fully savor and participate in your performance. They are thrilled that you have performed for them, and it is a sign of respect to acknowledge the pleasure and gratitude that they express with their applause. If you are unsure of how your stage presence is, try turning on an applause track on YouTube at home and working on entering and exiting the room. You can also watch performances of famous singers to see how they interact with the audience to get ideas.

Remember that your musical preparation and practice will help you have your best performance possible. Keeping in mind these other elements will only serve to showcase your hard work and skill, and developing a confident stage presence can make the difference between a good performance and an unforgettable performance, both for you and your listeners!

Don’t forget — a professional voice coach can also help you develop your tone and stage presence! Find a teacher near you here.

nadiaBNadia B. teaches flute and piano in New York, NY, as well as through online lessons. She acted as principal flutist of the orchestra and wind ensemble at California State University, Sacramento, and then went on to receive her degree in Music Performance from New York University. Learn more about Nadia here!

 

 

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Tips for Auditioning for Summer Stock Theatre

4 Must-Read Summer Stock Theatre Audition Tips for Singers

Tips for Auditioning for Summer Stock TheatreThinking of auditioning for summer stock theatre in your area? Here, voice and acting teacher Liz T. shares her tips for audition success…

 

Summer stock theatre is a tradition that started in the 1920s, in which talented actors, singers, and dancers from the big city would perform and work on their craft for an entire summer at a local theater, very common in New England and the Midwest. Today, summer stock is still alive and thriving, and is one of the most rewarding experiences as a performer. I encourage you all to pursue summer stock auditions! Here are some tips to help you have a successful summer stock audition.

1. Research theaters

So you’re interested in performing musical theater all summer long? Terrific! The first thing you should do is research summer stock opportunities all across the country, and what shows each theater will be producing in their season. Some may do one show for 12 weeks, and others may do six different shows in 12 weeks. Every theater is different.

Remember to audition for shows and roles that are appropriate for your vocal style, age, and so on. Keep a journal of all the shows that theaters are producing this summer — that way when you go to an audition, you’ll have already done your homework and will be familiar with their season. Perhaps a theater is doing your favorite musical of all time, “West Side Story”, and you want to audition for Maria — watch the movie, read the script, and study the music beforehand, so that if you receive a callback, you are already ahead of the game!

2. Prepare for your audition

Now that you’ve made a list of the summer stock theatre opportunities you want to audition for, I suggest killing two birds with one stone! Traveling across the country to auditions can be very expensive and time-consuming. You may be able to find open call auditions in Boston, NYC, and Chicago where you can audition in a room full of 25 different summer stock casting directors at once. Many college students first start auditioning at StrawHat in NYC, NETC in Boston, MWTA in St. Louis, and UPTA in Memphis. These are great starting grounds to get your feet wet in auditioning. I suggest researching these auditions as far as a year in advance to plan for them — so start now for 2016! You will have to submit an application and a small fee for an audition spot, and these spots fill up quickly!

3. Audition, audition, audition

Now that you have your audition lined up, it’s time to bring your “A Game” and practice, practice, practice. Not only will you have to be a strong singer, but you also need to be a strong actor and dancer. So if you are lacking in one of these areas, I suggest brushing up with some acting, dance, or voice lessons before the big day. Your audition will be very quick, and you will be competing with as many as 10,000 union and non-union actors for a limited number of roles for the summer. At these big cattle calls, you will be given 90 seconds to sing your best 16-32 bars, and do a short monologue.

When picking your audition material, pick something you are comfortable with, and that you can do in your sleep (in case the nerves get the best of you!). This is not the place to try something risky. I suggest showing off your strengths, whether you are a belter, or can sing four octaves. Try not to sing a song that’s overdone; remember the directors will be tired after hearing so many people each day, so do something that’s a breath of fresh air!

Once you’ve nailed your 90-second audition, don’t go anywhere, because usually within the next hour the theater will post a long list of callbacks, which could be held that night after the dance call. The dance call can be a bit intimidating as well, but don’t stress, just do your best, and always smile!

4. Once you’ve landed the role

If you made it through your research, audition, callbacks, and have landed a role in summer stock, congratulations! Getting a role in summer stock is no easy task; many great singers audition, but it all comes down to who is right for which part. If you’re offered a role, I suggest you do some more research and ask questions like “Are housing or meals provided for singers?”, “Is there a weekly pay or just EMC Points?”, “Will I have to pay for travel?”, “How many shows a day?”, and “Will I have days off?” If you ever suspect something is not right in a contract, don’t take it, stick with your gut, and always try to contact a former singer who has worked with the theater/company before.

Finally, if you accept the role, you’ll probably have some time to prepare, so I suggest really working on your character before rehearsals begin. Summer stock rehearsals are very intense, usually six days a week, so it’s also very important that you stay healthy, including eating right and getting enough sleep.

Now go out there, do your research, audition, and land that role you want!

LizTLiz T. teaches singing, acting, and music lessons in Brooklyn, NY, as well as online. She is a graduate of the Berklee College of Music with a B.M in Vocal performance and currently performs/teaches all styles of music including Musical Theater, Classical, Jazz, Rock, Pop, R&B, and Country. Learn more about Liz here!

 

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singing with an accompanist

5 Tips for Singing with an Accompanist

singing with an accompanistGearing up for a singing performance and need a piano accompanist? Check out these tips to make your (and your accompanist’s!) life easier in this guest post by Corona, CA voice teacher Milton J...

 

Singing with a pre-recorded track for a performance, audition, or singing competition has its advantages with on-demand accompaniment and less resources needed, however, using an accompanist can make that performance or audition even better. Here are some tips on how to practice singing with an piano accompanist.

Sheet Music Preparation

Make sure all sheet music is copied in its entirety with no cut off pages. This is an oft-overlooked issue, as we’re always in a hurry to get things done. Pay close attention to make sure any copies are a direct replication of what’s from the song book. Additionally, use a highlighter to clearly mark the staves for the piano part and any tempo or dynamic changes so your accompanist can easily identify them. Also make sure to clearly mark any changes to the published sheet music you are making in your vocals.

Tempo Matching

Sing a few lines a cappella for your accompanist so he or she can understand the beat pulse you’re going for in order to match tempo together. By providing the pulse you have practiced your vocals with or how you want the tempo to pace the song in your performance, this will alleviate one of the pitfalls of an audition or performance — the dreaded drag and juxtaposition of tempo between the vocalist and the accompanist.

Song Interpretation

Have a clear and direct interpretation of the song or piece you are performing to give your accompanist some musicality to parse from to enhance his or her accompaniment. If you deliver an uninspired or otherwise incorrect interpretation of the piece, your accompanist will not able to derive the emotion or the story you are trying to convey to the audience. The accompaniment serves to help you tell this story or convey this emotion to your listeners — it is important to already have an idea of what and how you will deliver your vocals.

Discuss Audition Plans

If you plan to use the piece you are practicing with your accompanist for an audition, openly talk about your performance plans: how you will indicate you are ready to begin, where you will stand in relation to the piano if need be, and when and how you will acknowledge your accompanist when you are done are all parts of the performance that should be discussed so you are both on the same page.

Search Out the Best Accompanist for You

The piano accompanists that will bring the best out of you as a singer are the ones who understand balance between the vocals and the piano, and the texture the vocals present in the piece. As a vocalist, these are discussions you should have with your accompanist. Come to an agreement in theory and in practice on what proportion of music will be delivered from you and from them.

I hope these tips help you in your singing lessons as you practice for that upcoming performance, singing competition, or audition! Happy practicing!

MiltonJMilton J. teaches guitar, piano, singing, music recording, music theory, opera voice, songwriting, speaking voice, and acting lessons in Corona, CA. He specializes in classical, R&B, soul, pop, rock, jazz, and opera styles. Learn more about Milton here!

 

 

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