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Picking an Audition Song

by | Apr 8, 2022 | Performance Skills, Voice

Congratulations! You’ve signed up for the big audition and are ready to show them what you’ve got! …Now, what to sing?

Obviously, you’ll want to put your best foot forward vocally, but you’ll also want to showcase your sensitivity to musical style, your ability to become a new character, and your sensitivity to any themes within the show you’re auditioning for. Here is a checklist to help you narrow down your options to find the perfect audition song:

  1. It’s generally considered bad form to offer a selection from the show you’re auditioning for. In fact, many auditions will expressly forbid it! Instead, look at works by the same composer or his close contemporaries. You’ll want to present something that is a similar musical style, and the easiest way to ensure you’re sticking with the same style is to choose a song by the same songwriter or by someone who was working in the same market at the same time. Bonus points if you uncover an unexpected less famous option!
  2. Based on the role you would like to be considered for (choose wisely! The role you most want to sing may not always be the role you’re best suited for– consider all options), select an audition piece by a character who fits the same general demographics (age/class/time period, but also the way they fit into the story, i.e. romantic lead vs. supporting or character role).
  3. If possible, pick a song about a similar theme to a noteworthy song sung by the role you are targeting. This may not always be exact, of course; if you can’t find a similar theme/idea, look for a similar mood.
  4. Vocally, don’t overextend yourself. Directors hear a lot of singers presenting hard music— much of it to an underwhelming caliber. Only present that super hard song if you can sing its pants off. Better yet, sing something easier (read: risk free!) that you can really, truly OWN. It is much more memorable (and desirable) to hear a singer completely at ease- even if it’s a “easy” song- than it is to hear someone just barely make it through a more “impressive” song.
  5. Look for Audition Pieces that are off-the-beaten-path. Directors have to listen to So. Many. Singers. Present a song that they aren’t expecting to help wake them up! The “hits” are over-played in the audition room and can easily make you blend in with the crowd (or come off as somewhat naive/uncreative).
  6. Consider your Body Language and Dress. These elements are part of your audition, too, and tell the casting staff a lot about you! Even before you begin singing, they are making assessments about your professionalism and your flexibility to fit into a role that may be dissimilar to you as a person. Be confidently yourself as you greet them, but make sure a clear but subtle change (posture, attitude) signals the beginning of your performance. Never wear a “costume” to an audition, but if you can creatively work a “nod” to the character into your outfit, go for it! Any small detail that suggests the scene or time period is a nice touch (but again, less is more– don’t overdo it).

Of course, once you’ve chosen the perfect song, the real work begins! For more on performance preparation, read our blog; or, if you’d like to consider Cardon Voice membership to really take your audition to the next level, schedule your free consultation today!

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