Dealing with Audition ‘Competition’
Obviously when preparing for auditions and during your auditions your number one priority needs to be you and what you’re doing. However, as you look around the room you will see countless other applicants, and the reality of how many people apply for these courses becomes very real. Naturally, you will try and compare yourself to them, you may think ‘if this many people are at one audition, how many people am I actually up against?’ and the competitive nature of these auditions can make you want to give up. You can’t see the point because that girl over there is more flexible than you, and that girl next to you has an incredible top range and the boy to your left can do back flips. Don’t get into this downward spiral of thoughts. Look at the boy doing back flips in the corner, and remind yourself that while he may be talented, he isn’t you. He does not have what you have, and neither does anyone else because you are one of a kind. This can be a hard thing to keep sight of when you’re surrounded by your competition, but you can’t let this phase you. Make friends with people, have a chat about how their other auditions are going, what songs they’re singing etc. It will make you feel much more at ease if you have a few friends who you can discuss the whole process with (after all, you’re all in the same boat anyway). Also when you are listening to other people singing and watching them dance or act, don’t judge them as if you are a member of the panel. Be supportive, and never for a second think ‘oh they won’t like him’ or ‘I’m way better than her’ because you shouldn’t bring others down to bring yourself up. A better response would be ‘they were good, and now lets show them what I’ve got’.
Often you will have to work in teams during your auditions, and if you don’t work well with others (you’re bossy, you shy away from the task or you are only focusing on yourself etc.) then the panel will notice this and this will go against you. Actors collaborate and work closely together, it’s not all about one person, especially when there is an ensemble of about twenty to thirty people onstage at the same time. So again, talking to people at your auditions will help you out when it comes to the workshops. Alternatively, if there are any current students at the auditions, ask them as many questions as possible (so you get more of an idea about whether the school is right for you). Basically, although you are effectively ‘competing’ against the other people in your audition, don’t compare yourself to anyone else. Be the best you can be, focus on yourself, but get to know the others and support them along the way as well.
I hope you’re all enjoying this series and finding it useful, and I’m open to topic requests so just let me know.
Lots of Love Lucy x
How I am Preparing for my Drama School Auditions
Having had the experience once, I’m now in a position where I can look back at my previous auditions and decide what I need to improve on, what went well and what I can do differently. If you have auditioned before and are auditioning again for drama schools, make sure you reflect on your previous auditions as this experience will give you an advantage. If you haven’t auditioned before, you can use these tips to help you prepare for your first shot at drama school auditions.
- I’ve joined the gym. This is not only for me to improve my stamina, my fitness levels and my image, but also to boost my confidence. I’ve fallen in love with going to the gym, as you can have the time to really focus on your goals and self improvement. Drama school is strenuous, and if the panel can see you are physically fit and healthy, they will instantly view you as a candidate who is taking their passion more seriously. I know going to the gym isn’t for everyone, as it is expensive, time consuming and not something everyone will enjoy, but even being more active in general will help you connect with your body and mind. Go for a run, do a dance class, do a home workout or anything that works for you.
- Reading books. I bought a lot of books on acting, musical theatre and drama school last year, but I never actually read them. I’m currently about half way through ‘So you want to go to drama school?’ by Helen Freeman and it is incredible. These books help you think about how to work on your monologue, how to present yourself and in general they give a lot of insight into what a panel actually look for (which does actually go beyond the obvious).
- Applying for more courses and for different drama schools. I am still applying for the majority of the places I applied for last year, but as I visited nearly all of the schools last time around, I know which ones are right for me and which aren’t. One school that has always been my dream school really didn’t live up to my expectations, and I had a real confidence knock when I didn’t get in and when I realized it wasn’t the right place for me, so I won’t be applying there again. I’m also being more open minded about the courses I apply for, and I’ve decided to apply for straight acting courses also. Acting is one of my main passions, and you still get to sing and be in musicals on some acting courses, so I think I will give those a try and see if they’re right for me.
- Not applying so early. Last time I rushed to get my applications in, and although I had all my monologues and songs etc. learnt and rehearsed by December (when I started auditioning) I wasn’t developed enough as a performer. I made so much progress at college in the months following my auditions, and I think if I’d have auditioned a few months later I may have had more of a chance.
- Working on my weaknesses. I know that dance isn’t my strong point, and there are lots of areas I need to develop such as my confidence. I’m really taking this year to focus on myself and self improvement, and I think this will really help me find my feet in auditions. I was so nervous the first time around and I was excited and all in all I think I wasn’t very present because I was so in awe of the buildings and everything around me. I hadn’t taken in what I was doing, and I didn’t focus on myself enough, so this time around I’m going to walk in and just be myself.
Another thing you can do while prepping for auditions is to do a pre-audition course. I took part in one last year, and it was an amazing experience that really helped calm my nerves before my auditions. You get to spend a day, a weekend or sometimes even longer at a drama school practicing your audition technique and receiving lots of feedback, however they are quite expensive. If you have the money for it and you think it would be useful, I would highly recommend it as I loved the experience. Just remember though, it won’t guarantee you a place at a drama school.
I hope this helped, and as usual let me know what other topics you would like me to cover in this series!
Lots of Love Lucy x
Top Ten Tips for Selecting an Audition Song
At a lot of drama school auditions you will be required to prepare two songs of a certain length (generally around two minutes long). However, at a lot of auditions you will only be required to sing one of these songs. Here are my top tips for selecting audition material:
- Always have a back up. Create a repertoire folder with around eight to ten songs in, so that if the panel ask you if you have anything else prepared you can confidently and calmly select another one of your songs. Make sure they are all fit for purpose and adhere to the schools criteria, and that you know them all like the back of your hand.
- Ensure your sheet music is neat and clear. This may sound like an obvious or strange tip, but the amount of auditions I went to where people got in trouble for not properly taping their sheet music together was ridiculous. Tape it all together neatly, or put it in a folder, and if you have any cuts in the score make sure they are marked clearly (and talk them through with the pianist before you begin). Know who composed the song, the lyricist and make sure you know the tempo at which you want it to be played (so you can go through this with the pianist also).
- Don’t go for the obvious songs. I think this goes without saying, but try and avoid Phantom, Wicked, Les Mis and the big hit shows at all costs. The panel have heard it all before, and they will have heard it sung better, so don’t even attempt it. Even musicals like Hamilton are a risk, as they are so popular at the moment, so try and find smaller more off the wall shows. Don’t go mad trying to find a show that no one has heard of, and make sure it is still from a published musical, but try and think outside the box.
- Ballads are great and they show off your voice, but sometimes they can be a bit dull. The panel may start nodding off if they have to sit through too many sad love songs, so pick a few songs that are more upbeat, funny or that tell a story. Character songs are more risky and some schools specify that they don’t want to hear you sing them, but that doesn’t mean you can’t sing a more upbeat solo.
- If you can’t belt, don’t chose a song that is traditionally belted, and if you can’t sing high, don’t select a soprano number. Sounds simple, but a lot of people go for something that is a bit too high or low in their range, and then when they are nervous they can’t hit the notes. Pick something you can sing comfortably, and then even under pressure you should be able to pull it out the bag.
- Never tell the panel that you are ‘ill’ or that you ‘have a cold’. Even if you do, they will be able to hear it and it just seems like you’re making excuses. They are professionals, and even if you are full of cold they will be able to hear if your voice has potential or not.
- Don’t be afraid to sing the same song as someone else. I’ve done it at auditions before, and the panel don’t mind at all. As long as you bring something different to the song and you show your personality and interpretation, you will be fine. Don’t let it phase you, just do your thing and don’t worry about how the other person sung it.
- Comparing yourself to others at the audition is also a no. If you have the chance to go near the beginning of the audition order then take it, because then you will be less likely to worry about if the girl sat next to you is going to have a better voice or not. If you don’t get to listen to the others sing, then just focus on yourself and think about how good you are going to be. If you do have to watch the others, then just be supportive of them, and don’t put yourself down by assuming the panel will think everyone else is better than you. Focus on you, and don’t let the pressure or competitive atmosphere get to you.
- Also, if you are listening to other people audition, the panel may look to see what the other candidates are doing. If you are slouching in your chair, uninterested and not even looking at the person auditioning, you aren’t giving the impression that you are present and engaged with what’s going on. You can still listen to the others and appreciate their work, and the schools are looking for team players, so you don’t want to come across as bored or jealous. Keep focusing on yourself, but respect the other performers and appreciate their work.
- Go with your gut. If a singing teacher or someone gives you a song to sing or gives you advice about a song that you don’t feel is right, go with what you think. At the end of the day, it’ll be you standing in that audition room singing it, so you and only you can decide what you are going to sing. Do take suggestions and advice, and if you get recommended a song that you love then go with it, but if someone tells you ‘don’t sing that song it won’t be good enough’ or ‘that song is too boring’ that may just be their opinion. Take all advice with a pinch of salt.
I hope these tips will help some of you out, and please let me know what other posts you would like to see in this series!
Lots of Love Lucy x