Auditioning – Stories and Insights

Auditioning stories and insights
Copyright: Vegas Photo by James Walsh on Unsplash Microhpone by Matt botsford Unsplash
Three Music Industry Pros share how singers can make an impact in the audition process.

This article contains excerpts from The Ultimate Guide to Singing, the most comprehensive book on the market for covering on all aspects of singing.

Connecting with the Song

I was working with the singer Simone Simone, daughter of Nina Simone, and we were preparing for an audition for the Vegas production of the musical, We Will Rock You. She was actually going to be auditioning the song “No One But You” in front of Roger Taylor of Queen and Ben Elton, the writer of the musical. Can you imagine the pressure? We prepared by trying to connect with the basic emotion of the song — which is about the loss of someone dear.

Simone’s mother had recently died and I asked her if there was some way that she could access that emotion of loss and put it into the song. She brought up her raw feelings and sang the song with an exposed heart, crying buckets as she sang. It was such a powerful emotional experience that we actually had to discuss how to place some limitations on her access to that emotional reality. When she came to the audition and sang the song the following day, she was offered the part instantly. Sadly it didn’t work out and she never performed in the show but Simone is definitely a singer who knows how to bring her deepest self to her music. 

—Mike Dixon: musical supervisor, director, arranger and composer for TV and stage

Auditioning A LOT

Many singers find paid work through summer shows, regional theater work, cruise/theme park shows and maybe even in the big musical theatre centres of New York and London. If this is your calling, then move ahead and find the directors and production companies recruiting. One “trick of the trade” is to join a class run by a prominent coach for musical theater talent — this can lead to solid gold networking opportunities. 

You’ll need to audition a lot. After his first screen test, MGM famously told Fred Astaire that he was “skinny, balding, and can dance a little.” If you can learn from unsuccessful auditions and carry on with a spring in your step, you may just rise to the top. Getting a part in the chorus may not be your dream role, but it is mercifully less intense, while still being lots of fun, and an excellent way to get to know directors, actors and musical theater repertoire. Always show up for an audition with a professional head shot and résumé. The production team will specify what you should prepare for the audition and whatever it is, make sure it is polished and memorized!

Bringing a character to life through singing, dancing and acting requires a level of skill and artistic multitasking that only the most smitten performer would venture to reach for. If the world of musical theater is calling to you with more than just a whisper, get out there and start auditioning. 

—Kathy Alexander, singer, vocal coach and VP of Curriculum, Singdaptive

Give It Another Try

I coached a 16-year-old girl who I knew was great, so she signed up for an audition on Idol. I was sure she would be accepted to the program but she called me in tears, “I didn’t even get to the real jury!” So, we decided that she should try auditioning again in another town. She got on the show and made it to fifth place in the finals; she now has an international career. So, never take “no” for an answer — just give it another try.

But remember this:

  • Only sing a song that shows you off at your absolute best.
  • Always have an extra song in another style up your sleeve.
  • Know your perfect key and perfect tempo — always practice in them.
  • Own a metronome and something to give you the right pitch. Check in on both tempo and pitch just before you audition. 
  • Be yourself.

—Daniel Zangger Borch, PhD, one of Sweden’s most established vocal coaches, Head of the Voice Centre

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