As a singer and performer, auditions are a part of my career. My students and fellow singers often ask me about stress management, and how to “nail” an audition. The most important thing is to be prepared.
It may sound obvious, but if you want the gig, dress for the part, know your lyrics, and know your tunes perfectly. Rehearse your songs and, if you can’t accompany yourself, hire an accompanist. Test your charts, make sure they are in the right key, and, most importantly, sing the “meat” of the song. Don’t start your tune with a 16 bar piano intro—the “judges” care about you, not the pianist. If you don’t have perfect pitch, have a pick up but keep it short.
Find out as much as possible about the audition: What? Who? When? Where? Do I bring an accompanist? Will there be an accompanist? Will there be a CD Player or an iPod input? If you want to bring a backing track, make sure that it starts and ends where you need it to. Garage Band is perfect if you want to edit your tracks.
Try to record your rehearsals and videotape yourself—you will see and hear exactly what you need to work on. Remember: auditions are short and you need to go straight to the point. You have to perform your song and sell it—but don’t over do it. Videotaping yourself or working in front of a mirror will do the trick. When you audition for live shows, think of your stage as a triptych—left, center and right— and address all three areas when you perform. It’s very important to show the “judges” that you own the stage.
If you are well prepared, you will feel less nervous. If you still experience high levels of stress, picture yourself in a safe and stress free environment, such as your rehearsal space, your bedroom, the beach—wherever you associate with calm and serenity. Focus on your interpretation, your tune, the words that you are singing, and your emotion—and just act the part! Sometimes stress overpowers your performance and your technique is all that you have left, so remember to add emotion to your song. Picture yourself in a positive environment and you will be able to focus on your interpretation.
You have to act confident. If you mess up your lyrics, improvise and keep on smiling! There is a good chance nobody will notice. At the end of your tune, even if you think that you completely messed up, don’t look upset. Smile and leave unless you are asked a question or being given helpful advice. Keep in mind that there are no excuses. If you are late don’t start babbling about traffic or your hair, try to be as professional as possible. Keep your act together, stay positive and most importantly—have fun!
Check out Berkleemusic’s online voice curriculum, including our newest course, Jazz Voice. Our new multi-course Certificate Program Introduction to Singing is another great place to start! Berkleemusic’s online spring term begins April 5, 2010.