15 Ways to Prepare for a Singing Audition

15 Ways to Prepare for a Singing Audition
Photo by Obie Fernandez / Unsplash

Do you have a singing audition coming up? Well done! That’s half the battle. Now you’re probably wondering what to do before the audition. This article contains 15 ways you can prepare for your audition and help steal the show.

It also helps to know what the judges or audition panel are looking for. I will give you a glimpse into their thought process when they watch you audition.

Whether your audition is in-person or if you’re sending in a video, here’s what you need to do.

1. Be Well-Prepared

The very first thing is to be prepared. Time is a big factor in succeeding, and one that you want on your side.

This might not be possible if the audition was last minute, but you’re already on the right track just by reading this article.

Being prepared will help reduce your stress and give you confidence for your audition. You will be able to walk into that audition room knowing that you have done your best. It will just come down to whether you’re the right for the role, not whether you forgot some lyrics.

I recommend starting your preparations as soon as possible in case there are any unforeseen delays. You never know what life might throw at you.

2. Resume and Head-shots

Not every audition is going to require head-shots or a resume. Especially if you’re just sending in a video audition. But it’s a good idea to have on-hand, and it’s nice to at least offer the judges a copy of your resume before you go.

A resume will help showcase your vocal strengths and achievements without you trying to remember everything on the spot. The longer you’ve been in the business, the easier it is to forget all the amazing things you’ve done. Here’s some points you might like to include:

  • How long you have been singing or taking lessons
  • Your training (contemporary, classic, opera, jazz, mixed, etc.)
  • Vocal strengths
  • Personal strengths (how you work with others, your commitment, etc.)
  • Experiences and opportunities you have had

You might also like to include why you would be good for this particular role.

A head-shot is as it sounds. A photo of your head. These are very common in musicals where your photo is used in the show’s program. But it can also be used at the top of your resume to help the panel remember your face when considering you for the role.

Having it taken by a professional photographer will certainly take the stress out of trying to make it look good, but they will charge for it. Otherwise, with the quality of phone cameras these days, you could just take one yourself.

If you you’re considering taking your own head-shot, here are some features you might like to consider. This is a description of my own head-shot:

  • Greyscale – I like how this tones down any blemishes
  • White background (a white wall)
  • Features my whole head down to just below the collar-bone
  • My head is facing the camera, but body is turned slightly to one side
  • Hair, makeup and clothes are tidy

There’s no set rules to how it should look, but if you want to be creative, perhaps have a look online at a variety of different head-shots to see what other people have done. You might get some good ideas.

3. Check Your Commitments

One thing that looks bad to a panel is if you haven’t considered whether you’re all-in. They want your commitment to them, wehther it’s for rehearsals or performances. This is the same whether you’re auditioning for a musical, event or a band.

So make sure to look through your own calendar and the information they have given prior to the audition. The might already outline when and where they need you.

Know how many days in a week you’re willing to sacrifice, which days/evenings you’re free and whether you’re willing to commit to weekends.

4. Choose Your Audition Song

Choosing your song is very important. It can make or break you. If they’ve provided a song for you to sing, that takes the stress out of it. But if they haven’t there are some things you’ll want to consider.

Don’t choose a song that you have never sung before. You don’t want any new material for an audition (unless they’ve supplied the song) because you don’t know if there’s any part of that song that you’re going to stumble on under pressure.

Choose a song that is comfortable, but showcases your full range. There should be high notes and low notes, but you should be able to sing these clearly and with strength in your voice.

You should also tailor your choice to what the panel are looking for. If you’re auditioning for a jazz band, choose a jazz song. If you’re auditioning for a stageshow, choose a song your character features in as well as the them song. But generally musical auditions will provide the music they want you to sing.

If you’re auditioning for a band, they may want to hear some original music. If you have written any songs yourself, have both a cover song and an original ready to go so you can offer both.

5. Research the Meaning of the Music

Whether you’re assigned a song or chosen in yourself, make sure to research the meaning behind it. Know who wrote it and why.

If this is in a musical setting, you should research your character and the storyline so that you know what the tone of the music should be.

Knowing the meaning behind the song will allow you to portray the appropriate expression while you sing. You wouldn’t want to smile and bop throughout your audition only to find out the song you sang was a tragic love story.

The judges want to know you have the ability to connect to the music so that you give an engaging performance.

6. Practice the Music

Practice makes perfect. If you practice to the point where you never want to hear that song again, you will be more confident when you perform. The song will become second nature.

You want to get to a point where you’re no longer thinking about the lyrics or your cue to start. If this is natural, you can focus more on the expression and delivery of your performance. Even that should be rehearsed.

Make sure that you have practiced in front of a mirror so you know what you look like. Sometimes it feels like we’re moving around and relaxed, only to realise we look like a deer in headlights. See what movements look good and work with the song.

You will also benefit from recording yourself. It’s hard to sing and critique your performance at the same time. If you listen back to a recording, you can pick up notes that are off-pitch, tempo changes, or parts of the song where you aren’t showing enough emotion. Whatever needs to be worked on will be glaringly obvious when you play back a recording.

Don’t forget to practice in front of a live audience. It could just be some family members or a group of friends. But this will help take away some performance anxiety. It’s all about getting yourself comfortable when under pressure.

The sad truth is that you can’t get rid of nerves. They will always sneak their way in. But you can get your body used to performing so that you learn how to work with the nerves. It’s all about repetition. Sing in front of people or start recording yourself every time you sing.

Also be prepared for anything. Make sure you can sing the song a capella (unaccompanied), as some auditioners like to hear just your voice.

If you’ve chosen your own song, have a backing track ready to go and bring some way to play it (a bluetooth speaker or CD player). They probably will have something to use, but don’t rely on that assumption.

Some auditions have their own piano accompanist, someone who you may struggle to sing along with. You can help combat this by practicing to different backing tracks so you get used to different tempos. I once had an audition where the pianist was so fast that it threw me right off.

7. Take Lessons

If you have the opportunity to have a few lessons with a singing teacher, I would recommend it. Singing teachers are great at identifying your weaknesses and giving you tailored vocal exercises to help.

They’re another person you can practice your audition song on, except they will be able to provide you with professional feedback. They should be able to help you with any questions you have about the audition as well, because chances are that they themselves have been through the same process.

8. Consider Your Appearance

First impressions are very important. Not only will you want to impress the judges with your voice, but also with your appearance. This next part is very much going to sound like your mother.

Make sure your hair is clean and tidy. If you need a haircut, now’s a good time to get one. Wear clothes that are smart but casual, and very comfortable. The last thing you want is to struggle to take in a big breath because your belt is digging in or your top is one size too small.

It’s also a good idea to wear modest clothes. The reason for this is you don’t want to be distracted by your skirt riding up or your neckline hanging low. You never know what the panel’s views are on appearances, but it’s better to play it safe. Let them focus more on your voice than anything else.

Another interesting thing to consider is your fitness. Most panels will be interested in someone who is able to bring life to the performance with high energy. If you come in acting like Eeyore, they might think you won’t be very active on stage. This is particularly important when considering a musical role as you’ll be expected to dance.

9. Eat Healthy

Eating healthy not only helps with your overall fitness, but it will help your voice on the day of your audition.

You should avoid eating foods that will restrict your throat muscles or produce mucous in your throat. If you stick to eating healthy meats and vegetables, you’ll be fine. But here’s a list of foods to avoid:

  • High fat such as deep-fried foods
  • Dairy such as milk and cheese
  • Carbonated drinks such as Coke
  • Caffeine
  • Alcohol

I remember eating McDonalds before a vocal performance in high school. Because of all the high fats, I had a lot of mucous in my throat and my first note came out crackly as a result. That shot my confidence for the entire song. Safe to say I learnt my lesson about eating the right foods before singing.

You should also drink plenty of water. If you drink the recommended daily intake (8 cups) each day you will stay hydrated. Try to spread this across the day, drinking approximately every 30 minutes, and your vocal cords should remain moist.

Interestingly, if you drink cold water, your throat will become constricted, making it harder to sing. So try drinking room temperature or luke-warm water. Carbonated drinks will also constrict your throat.

10. Mentally Prepare

Being physically prepared plays a key role in your mental preparation. If you know you have done everything you can, you will feel more confident and perform better.

But make sure you are also prepared to see other singers at the audition. Some may have more experience than you. Some may have worked with the company before or been in the role before. There’s always going to be someone you think is better-suited to the role.

The key is to remember that the judges will choose the successful applicant based on what they want. Most of the time they will be looking for a particular voice, not a veteran of the industry.

If you’re giving it your best shot, it’s good to have the mindset of ‘whatever happen, happens’.

11. Warm-up Your Voice

Make sure to warm up your voice on the day. You can start with an extensive warm-up earlier in the day, and then another one in the car on the way or just before you leave.

Focus on strengthening your upper and lower registers so that you can easily reach every note in the song you are singing. Singing through scales with your fist in your mouth is a gentle introduction to these high and low notes. Then singing through some sirens to an ‘oo’ sound will add a bit of strength and improve your transition spot (changing from chest to head voice).

You should also run through your song again to make sure your warm-ups have prepared you well. If there’s one note that’s not working, you can do a few more warm-ups tailored to getting it right. Try singing through the song with your outfit on as well so you know it’s not going to hinder you in any way.

12. Be On Time

There’s a number of things that absolutely anyone can do do impress the panel, and punctuality is one of them.

Something as simple as being on time for your audition will make sure that the panel are judging you only on your voice, not your punctuality. Anyone can be on time to an audition.

Being on time, or even a little bit early, will also allow you to gather your thoughts and avoid unnecessary stress. If you don’t want to be sitting around with other candidates for too long, maybe sit at the cafe next-door or sit in your car with some relaxing music on.

13. Take Your Time in the Audition Room

Another time you do not want to be rushing around and stressing is in the actual audition room. Rushing will cause you to forget important things like pleasantries and getting yourself organised.

If you can remain calm and take your time walking in and getting set up, you will look professional and will keep your nerves at bay. The panel will probably expect a bit of nerves, so if you can make it look like you have conquered your performance anxiety, you will give yourself an edge over the other contenstants.

The judges will also be happy to see that you can be composed in a stressful situation. If you are calm and collected in the audition, then they will assume that you will be the same on stage.

14. Mind Your Manners

I mentioned pleasantries before. These are very important. It’s another thing that will give you an edge compared to the other candidates and the judges will appreciate the friendly atmosphere.

Here are a few things you could consider during the audition:

  • Say hello when you walk in
  • Smile
  • Give each judge eye contact, before and during your performance
  • Be patient
  • Listen to their instructions
  • Don’t argue
  • Say thankyou before you leave

By doing these simple things, you are showing the panel that you will be pleasant to work with, making you a more desirable candidate.

15. Seek Feedback

If you do not win the position, don’t give up. Keep auditioning your voice and one day, you will win that role.

Something that will help you succeed is if you ask for feedback from the auditioning panel once you know the outcome. This way you can identify your weaknesses and work on them for next time.

You might even recognize them within yourself once you leave the audition, so you might like to write these down so you can focus on improving in those areas. It would be interesting to see if your own impression of your weaknesses is the same as the judges.

Being open to feedback and willing to adapt is one of the greatest qualities you can have.

I wish you all the best with your upcoming audition and hope that this article has helped you in some way.

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