Are you ready to step out of the practice room and take your talent to the stage? In this article, voice teacher Milton J. shares his top tips to prepare for and stand out for singing contests and competitions!
For quite a few years, we’ve tuned in our televisions, phones, and tablets to our favorite singing competitions and contests every week. We’ve been picking our favorite singers, voting for them, and hoping they win the coveted record deal at the end of the season.
Each of these singers has more than likely had pre-contest jitters just like you might be experiencing! From making sure you sing the right song and you’ve practiced enough to how to stand out and wow the judges, we’re going to tell you everything you need to know to rock your next singing competition or contest. We’ll also share a few extra tips for recorded auditions.
How Do You Stand Out for Singing Contests or Competitions?
More often than not, singers will have to audition in front of one or more judges in order to be considered as contestants. It may sound nerve-wracking to sing in front of others, but it can bring a lot of opportunities for you!
So, let’s take a look at how to win a singing competition or contest!
- Be Well-Prepared
- Choose a Song That’s Suitable for Your Voice
- Always Warm-Up Your Voice
- Rest Up
- Dress Well
- The Judges Are Your Audience
Judges can and will recognize an auditionee who has put enough time and effort into perfecting their performance. Practice is not something that should be overlooked. Develop a routine and structure your singing practice in a manageable way.
Your degree of preparedness will only be determined by how comfortable you are with your greatest weakness. Turning that weakness into a driving force in your performance will help you get to the level of comfort you need for a live audition.
For example, if your weakness involves your voice cracking at a high note, embrace it and try to make the voice crack fit the feel of the song. Australian singer Sia has a natural voice crack that has made its way into many of her songs. She embraced what many would call a weakness and turned it into something stylistic and beautiful.
Choose a Song That’s Suitable for Your Voice
One issue that plagues even wonderful singers during signing contests or auditions is performing a song that’s not suitable for their voice. If your voice is more Andrea Bocelli (opera) than Justin Bieber (pop), that’s ok! Being true to your own voice, which inherently has unique qualities, is what will shine instead of doing a song that’s popular but doesn’t showcase your voice in the best light.
While you may want to find winning songs for singing contest, be sure it works for you. Find out which type of music suits your voice by listening to different singing styles and genres. Once you figure that out, you can start working on perfecting your style.
Interested in how to find the best songs for singing competition? Check out this video:
Always Warm-Up Your Voice
One of the things vocalists time and time again fail to properly do is warm up their voices. Much like how an athlete needs to fully stretch out their body before entering a game, a singer must stretch the muscles in their vocal cavity to be as musically effective as possible.
Be sure to take ample time to go through all of the warm-ups and vocal exercises you have learned from your vocal coach. This is very important to ensure that you can hit all the notes you need to and acquire consistency throughout the song.
There’s more to warming up your singing voice than you may think. For example, reciting tongue twisters are a great way to practice syllable annunciation. Be sure to try more outside-of-the-box vocal warm-ups to increase your vocal effectiveness.
While you always want to practice a lot leading up to singing contests and warm up your voice before your practice and perform, be sure you also give your vocal chords a rest. Depending on what your voice coach recommends, you may want to take about 24 hours off from singing maybe the day before your performance. But, don’t forget to warm up your vocals the morning before!
While your voice and performing skills are most important, we all know how important first impressions are! Make sure you’re dressed to impress and show the judges you’re prepared and ready to rock the show.
The Judges Are Your Audience
One mistake some vocalists make during their singing competition or audition is forcefully singing to judges, which turns to ineffectively singing through the judges. This is a common singing audition mistake.
Instead, treat the judges as your audience members as opposed to your adjudicators. Take them on your journey and help them feel the emotion you’re conveying through the lyrics of your song. The more you sing FOR them and less TO them, the more effective your performance will be.
What about pre-recorded auditions?
In many cases, vocal competitions will require you to send in an audition video in lieu of a live performance. This may be a result of limited space in the audition venue, limited time with the judges, or the sheer amount of auditionees that can’t possibly be given the chance to perform live.
While you’ll definitely want to focus on the tips shared above even for pre-recorded singing contests and auditions, these ideas will help you stand out even virtually.
- Create a performance. Have your camera set up in a way that you can perform just like you would in person.
- Make eye contact. Keep in mind that your audience will be behind the camera, so make eye contact like the camera is the judge.
- Be natural. Oftentimes, we act more robotic in front of a camera. Make the effort to be natural and practice will help this be easier.
Additional Resources for Singing Contests
- 400+ Songs to Sing for Every Occasion – Check out the top audition songs recommended by TakeLessons teachers
- Singing Lessons for Kids: 10 Ways to Support Your Child – Tips for parents of kids taking lessons and gearing up for competitions
- Auditions Checklist, via Susan Anders – A checklist-style article for preparing for televised singing competitions in particular
Are you getting ready for a singing audition? Leave a comment and let us know the details!
Milton 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!