Anyone who has ever participated in a performing arts program can tell you that auditions are just part of the system. Band, orchestra, choir, and drama programs all have elements of auditioning, starting at the earliest grade levels and continuing on … well, forever.
The bottom line is: If you want to be on the stage, you have to get good at auditioning.
Here are seven tips to help you be better at auditioning.
1. Audition early and audition often
This is one of those “practice makes perfect” things. The more often you audition, the better you get at auditioning. You don’t want your first audition ever to be the audition that determines if you get scholarship to the university of your dreams. That audition needs to be your twentieth (or more!) audition. You want to be so good at auditioning that an audition of that importance feels natural.
Start early. By “early”, I mean start now. Junior high is definitely not too early, and if you’re already in high school, ask your director to help you find opportunities to audition. Arizona offers and All-State program for band, choir, and orchestra students starting as early as sixth grade. In high school, opportunities to audition for Regionals, All-State, and other Honor Ensembles abound. Here in the valley, there is an abundance of theater groups, youth symphonies, choirs, and other performing arts groups that you can participate it.
These auditions are age-appropriate and are run by educators and parents who know and love the kids who are in involved in the program. They are rigorous and require preparation, but the experience is not intended to make you feel inadequate. Quite the opposite! Scholars who audition for these programs usually feel as though they’ve earned a badge of honor for “surviving” the process.
Even in the classroom, there will be opportunities for auditions. Audition for solos, first chair placement, and for higher-level ensembles. Always be exercising those audition muscles!
2. Practice objectively
It’s easy to practice and convince yourself that you’re totally winning at this. But if you force yourself to be objective, you can always find opportunities to improve.
Talk with your director and ask for feedback. This feedback should be fairly general to start and become more and more detailed or “nitpicky” as the audition approaches.
Record yourself and watch or listen with a critical eye or ear. Be honest about which parts need more work (hint: it’s not the fun parts).
3. Be prepared – long term
Important auditions for big performances and honor ensembles will give you several months’ notice and you should use all of that time – yes, ALL OF IT – to prepare for your audition. Choose your audition materials carefully and practice regularly.
Music auditions often include a sight-reading portion, and theater auditions might include improvisation. Practice these skills on a regular basis.
Much like studying, there is no way to successfully cram for an audition. The people who do the best are the people who are well-rehearsed and confident in all aspects of their performance.
4. Be prepared – short term
This is the stuff you probably already know:
– Go to bed early and get a good night’s sleep before your audition
– Eat a good breakfast
– Make sure you have your performance materials, identification, and any other supplies (like a granola bar and bottle of water) packed ahead of time
– Arrive at least an hour before your audition time
– Familiarize yourself with the audition location
– Warmup effectively
5. Show up COMPLETELY
Dress professionally and treat this as a professional experience. The way you dress and the way you treat the audition really can affect the way you perform. If you’re sloppy or neglecting your warm ups, it will show in your audition. Be respectful of the facilities, the volunteers, and the judges. Don’t treat this as a socialization opportunity. You’re here to perform and to receive feedback, not to snapchat the whole experience.
Remember: the judges, room escorts, and check-in people are all volunteers. They’ve sacrificed their afternoons, evenings, or weekends so that you can have a chance to find out if you’re ready for a new performance opportunity. Be gracious about that sacrifice.
6. Take your time
Auditions almost always fall behind schedule, which means you’ll likely be faced with a room escort who speed-reads through your instructions or a judge who seems fidgety and unfocused.
Ignore that rushed energy; focus on what you need to get done.
Take a deep breath, count to ten before you start your audition. Move methodically through your materials and at your pace. Your judge or escort might cut you off in the middle of a piece, but don’t panic; that doesn’t necessarily mean anything about you or your performance. It simply means they’ve heard enough from you to be able to accurately compare you to other auditioners. Calmly stop, don’t argue, and move on to the next piece of the audition.
7. Debrief, but don’t dwell
After the audition, spend a little bit of time discussing how it went with your peers or with your director, but don’t obsess over it. Discussing what went well or what you felt unsure of can help you prepare more thoughtfully for your next audition. However, dwelling on the details of your audition, whether it went well or not, doesn’t do anything for you long term.
Take an objective look at your performance, get feedback from a trusted source, and move on.
Post submitted by Gina Denny, from our Laveen campus