There are a lot of opinions out there when it comes to how you should perform during a vocal audition. Depending on what works for you, there may be more than one right way to go about it. We’ve already explored tips of how to ace your next choral/vocal audition. However, there are a few obvious no-no’s you should be aware of before you step into that room as well. To help you out, we put a list together of “7 Things to Avoid in a Vocal Audition.”
Wearing A Flashy Outfit
If you’ve ever been to a vocal audition, you’ve probably seen the man in the polka-dotted suit, or the girl in hot pink from head to toe. Let’s be honest, they’re hard to miss. And since they’re hard to miss, it might seem like what they’re doing is a good idea. You might even start to wonder why you didn’t think of it yourself. However, there are a few reasons why a flashy outfit is something you should definitely not bring to an audition with you.
First of all, it’s going to be incredibly distracting during your actual audition. You want the panel to be focused on your performance, not your outfit. You also want them to remember you as a performer. Very rarely does it pay off for you to be remembered as “the Polka-dotted suit guy.” Even if you don’t get that specific part , if your performance is memorable, the panel will be able to remember a physical name for potential opportunities down the road.
Secondly, it may convey that you can’t rely on talent alone to separate you from the rest, so you went with a crazy accessory to do the job for you. This could be construed as unprofessional. Auditions are very similar to job interviews. You wouldn’t wear a neon tie to an interview, so you shouldn’t wear one in an audition.
Adding Your Own Choreography
The purpose of a vocal audition is for the panel of judges to hear your voice. As was the case with a flashy outfit, busy choreography is nothing but a distraction in a vocal audition. If you’re worried about proving your acting chops, you can easily prove yourself with strong facial expressions and tasteful gestures/movements.
It’s okay to move around the room a little bit and act out your performance. But make it your goal to translate the message of the song you are performing. Any movement should be supporting the song you are singing and not taking away from it. Also keep in mind that if you are auditioning for a stage show, callbacks usually always include a separate dance audition.
Bringing Unmarked Music for the Accompanist
There often will be an accompanist in the room ready to play your music while you audition. This can be unnerving because you are used to performing a certain way and how can you possibly give your best performance with a stranger tinkering along with you?!
Don’t panic. These accompanists are usually incredible sight readers, and 9 times out of 10, they’ve already played the song you’re auditioning with 100 times. However, you should always mark your music so that you can be on the exact same page. For example, if you’re not starting at the beginning of the piece, mark exactly where you are starting. If you want to slow down in a certain section, mark that as well. This will not only exude professionalism, but it will eliminate any time wasted explaining your piece to the accompanist while the panel you are auditioning for stares at you impatiently.
Venues for vocal auditions can range from giant stages to stuffy classrooms. In any case, you need to be heard! And you need to be heard from the moment you walk into the room and introduce yourself, to the final note of your song. So PROJECT!
Good projection shows the panel that you are confident and experienced. More importantly, it allows them to really listen and analyze your voice. This doesn’t mean than you have to sing in one dynamic throughout your entire performance. Just bring all of your dynamics up a notch. So if you were singing quietly (p) before, now you’re singing medium loud (mf). If you were singing loud before (f), now you’re blasting the windows out of here (ff)! Many rooms you audition in will not be equipped to handle sound, so you want to make sure if you’re bringing the dynamic down that you are still heard.
The most important part of projecting well is to practice like you perform. The vocal chords are muscle and they need to be exercised just like every other muscle in your body. If you don’t practice with good projection and then you try to project in a vocal audition, you could really hurt your voice!
Apologizing for Mistakes
Not every audition is going to be perfect. Whether it’s forgetting the lyrics or just not quite hitting the notes like you usually do, everyone has bad days. It’s important that you don’t apologize for these bad days in an audition.
You’ve probably heard a lot of people give the “sore throat” excuse. And maybe they really do have a sore throat, but it doesn’t change anything about the audition by letting everyone know. Believe it or not, the panel you’re auditioning for will be able to tell the quality of your voice even if it isn’t your best performance. They’ve seen and heard it all, and are experts at what they do.
Forgetting the lyrics is also common in vocal auditions. What a panel is looking for is how quickly you can regain composure. Even if you can’t remember the words, sing on a “la” or improvise! If you apologize, roll your eyes, slump your shoulders, or give a heavy sigh after the performance, it doesn’t promote you as a very confident performer. If you do end up having a bad vocal audition, it’s important to not let it discourage you from ever auditioning again. Take a breath, remind yourself that it happens to everyone, and get ready for the next one!
Asking the Panel How You Did
When going to a vocal audition, you need to realize that you are one among many. Keep the panel you are auditioning for in mind. They’ll see many faces throughout the audition process and reject all but a few. In the end, they may only be taking one person out of hundreds. It isn’t exactly a fun job. So one thing you should never do is ask how your audition went. Every now and then, at the end of your audition, the panel will tell you that you did a great job and they’d like to call you back, but many times, you will wait with everyone else for a list to go up sometime at the end of the week. You shouldn’t go into an audition with the expectation that you are going to find out immediately whether or not you got the part. Patience is a virtue!
Begging For the Part
The last thing you should not do in a vocal audition is beg the panel you are auditioning for to give you a chance. Again, don’t go into the audition with expectations that you are going to find out immediately whether or not you got the part. Saying things like “I have this show completely memorized” or “this has always been my dream” will not help you out in the end. Be confident enough in your performance that you don’t have to try and earn any points with the panel. Because at the end of the day, the panel cares about one thing and one thing only: finding the best person for the part.
Asking for a part is just one more thing that doesn’t look professional. Know that you aren’t getting every part you audition for. Know that you won’t always get call backs. And know that if you don’t get a part or even a called back, it doesn’t mean that you aren’t skilled or special, it just means that this particular path was not yours to take. And again, never be discouraged. There is something better out there waiting for you!
If you’re looking for vocal audition sheet music, check out our selection of 16 and 32-bar excerpts. (And keep an eye out for tons more vocal audition sheet music coming soon!)