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