There is one thing that unites all singers, regardless of age, ability, genre, or professional status: the feeling of impending doom that descends as auditions approach. Even if your ambitions are fairly modest, and don’t extend far beyond finding a fun choir to join, there’s a good chance you will have to at learn how to prepare for a singing audition at some point.
However, you can do a great deal to improve your chances simply by preparing yourself adequately. Think of a “successful” audition not as one where you get the job, but one for which you prepared well. Whether you’re auditioning for a rock band or for the Metropolitan Opera, following these tips can help:
Getting the Audition – Before considering how to prepare for a singing audition, first you’ll need to get one! Unless you want to spend all of your time combing the Internet, this is where networking can come in handy. Chat with other singers, and get your name out there in your community; you never know who may know of an upcoming audition opportunity!
Choosing Your Music – There’s a temptation when auditioning, especially when it’s for a professional situation, to show off and choose something beyond your capabilities. Don’t! The best songs to sing for an audition are ones that are well within your range, preferably ones that you have already performed in public, and most importantly, that are appropriate to what you’re auditioning for. You will make a much better impression by singing something simpler very well than by attempting vocal tricks that you can’t reproduce in a pressure situation.
Preparing Your Music, Part One – If you’re auditioning for a rock band, selecting a pop ballad for your audition song probably won’t fly. By the same token, if you’re auditioning for a music theater or opera role where the character has great emotional depth, rather than showing the panel you’re versatile, a light and fun piece will simply show them you don’t understand how to prepare for a singing audition, or worse still, you’re not familiar with the plot! For stage auditions, you’ve most likely been given something from the show to present to the panel. How you prepare this is essential to your success.
Preparing Your Music, Part Two – If you play the piano well enough even to pick out a tune line, you can familiarize yourself with the melody of something new to you very quickly. Identify the bars you’ll have trouble with, and work out exercises based on those bars that will help you conquer them. Don’t worry about memorizing your words just yet, but make sure that the melody is really part of you, practicing on a variety of vowel sounds. Read through the text of your song or aria as a piece of prose or poetry, and note how you naturally color the words when you say them. Go back to your melody, sing through it on the vowel sounds of the words, and then gradually add the text. You’ll find that the memorization process is much easier this way.
Preparing Yourself – One of the hidden factors of how to prepare for a singing audition is the unsavory truth is that it’s a visual business. Make yourself the best version of you that you can be – clean and pressed clothes, clean shoes, and a high level of attention to personal grooming will all make the audition panel see that you take the job (and more importantly, yourself) very seriously. In the longer-term, pay attention to diet and physical fitness; even if you are carrying extra pounds, fit and healthy shows in the way you move and present yourself.
The Day Before – Often overlooked in how to prepare for a singing audition is factoring in fun! Aim to be so well prepared that you don’t need the day for extra preparation (unless the audition was a very short notice surprise!); spend that day in the beauty salon, walking in the park, or meeting friends for lunch to clear your brain ahead of the pressures of the audition room.
The Day Itself – Get up early, and certainly no later than three hours before the time you have to sing. Remember that your voice takes longer to wake up than you do! Lay out your clothes and music the night to say time and double-check that you have everything you need. Take advantage of the steam in the shower, and do your warm up then – there may not be time or space at the venue. Also, make sure you leave extra time for traveling and finding exactly where you need to be, especially if you’re not familiar with the venue.
Being Professional – Another unsavory truth as you get further on in the profession is that other singers may do all they can to psych you out in the waiting room. Don’t engage with this behavior, and certainly don’t be put off by tales of how they’ve done the role before for X or Y company, or how they had dinner with the director only last week. Factor in being calm and collected as part of how to prepare for a singing audition. Make sure you have copies of your resume and headshots with you, and don’t forget to check your schedule for any clashes with the rehearsals!
Saying Thank You – If you feel you’ve done poorly, you may want to run out of the room as quickly as you can, but don’t be tempted to leave without a word. Thank the panel for their time, and even by email afterward – especially if their response has been positive! Picture it like this: two sopranos are auditioning for the same role. One is a little better than the other, and while very reliable, musical, and well-prepared, has a reputation for being a little difficult. The weaker singer, however, has a reputation for always turning up on time, prepared to throw themselves in to any extra jobs that need doing, and able to get along well with their colleagues. Who do you think gets the job?
You may be the most self-reliant and talented singer in terms of how to prepare for a singing audition. However, without a trusted pair of ears to pick up on any bad habits you may not be aware of, your progress may stall. Singing lessons with a qualified teacher are essential at every level -not just to learn new vocal techniques, but to strengthen and revisit existing ones. A good teacher is an essential investment in your enjoyment of singing, whether you’re an enthusiastic amateur, an aspiring student, or an established professional. Even famous singers like Pavarotti and Sinatra took voice lessons – what’s your excuse?
Photo by U.S. Army