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Auditioning For A Musical For The Uninitiated

Aug 17, 2007
Preparing to audition for a part in a musical is daunting at best and petrifying at worst for those whose lives have not revolved around singing since early childhood. Some people just know music from having grown up around it. They seem to breathe it and it oozes out their pores. They know every song from every musical, even the obscure ones. At the least provocation they will start to belt out a song so appropriate to the moment that it's scary, and on key too, hitting every single note. And they don't seem to freeze up in the face of their audience either. While singing, they're in their element.

Not everyone is blessed with such a natural command of the audio waves, or with such finely tuned vocal cords. Nor is everyone able to act natural and at ease in front of an audience while singing.

There's no question that it's fun to participate in a play, and many people are willing to have a smaller role in a community theater production. Many can shine in such a situation. But what about when the only production your school or local theater is planning is a musical, and you know your singing voice is less than angelic?

Perhaps you enjoy lifting up your voice in singing, but others ask you politely (or not so politely) to refrain from joining in so as not to ruin the song. Maybe even you as well as everyone else can hear your voice crack or warble on many of the notes. And yet, you really want to be in the musical, and you don't want to just do tech once again this year.

Here are some tips for how to handle this worrisome event.

Tip #1: Read the script. Know what the musical is about and know the characters. Choose a character to audition for that you are well suited to. The character should have your body type and (obviously) your gender. If you're a large, hairy older male, don't audition for the part of a slim, innocent teenage maiden.

Tip #2: Choosing your music. Choosing the right music to sing for the audition is of utmost importance. Usually, you don't sing a song for the audition that is from the musical. Chose another piece of music. Choose one that is in your voice range, without too many high or low notes. You can choose any song, however, songs from other musicals often provide you with a platform to showcase your strong points. You can usually show a lot of expression and movement with them, and this will show your abilities even if your voice cracks. Songs from musicals are likeable and you can usually find the music for them.

Tip #3: When to start. Don't wait to start preparing for the audition. Searching for the right music can be very time consuming. Sometimes the most important criteria for your choice is not how much you like the song, but whether the music is available!

Tip #4: Finding music for your song. Usually the casting director requires you to bring the music without lyrics on a CD or audiotape or the sheet music for piano. You can buy sheet music online, but you can also get it at a music store or in the music library of a local school. Many songs are available online for free as midi files, although the quality is not necessarily the best. Often you will only have 30-60 seconds to sing, so you can usually find just a portion of the music online, enough for one or two verses and one chorus. Download it, save it and burn it to CD or hook up your computer to your audiotape player and copy it to an audiotape.

Tip #5: Practice, practice, practice. There is no such thing as too much practice. Be sure you have the words memorized so that you never wonder what the next word is. Sing the song everywhere you go when you're alone. Belt it out in the shower. Sing in the car. Practice with the music until you have it perfect to the note. Practice your hand movements, facial expressions and actions too until they have become ingrained and you don't have to think about them. Let the actions follow the words. Use your whole body to sing and sing from your belly, not from your throat.

Tip #6: Consider getting a voice coach. If you're not a singer, this is a very good idea. A voice coach will help you improve your singing and your presentation considerably, and they will give you confidence.

Tip #7: Get a good night's sleep. Go in to the audition rested, not frazzled and worried. Show your best side. Wear appropriate clothing.

Tip #8: Warm up your vocal cords. Before you sing your song at the audition, do all your usual voice warm-ups and more. Warm up your body, too, with stretching and movement.

Tip #9: Dealing with fear. Everybody is scared at an audition. Everybody really wants to get a part; so freezing up is not unusual. The casting director is aware of this. The very best thing you can do is to relax and allow spontaneity in your performance. Show your best side. Show your expressiveness and acting ability even when you know you've missed a note. And don't sing quietly. Stage singers need to make their voices reach the farthest corner of the auditorium.

Tip #10: The actual audition. When you perform your song, forget all your practicing. Just be spontaneous. You know the material very well - now just have fun with it. If you make a mistake, just go right on. (Don't stop in the middle and say "Oops" or "Sorry." Be energetic. The casting director wants to see how well you can act as well as how well you can sing. Keep smiling. If you miss a note, or if your voice won't obey what your mind tells it to do, just keep going and don't look like you think you've made a mistake. And when you're done, give a little bow and walk off the stage with confidence.

Good luck! With a smile and a song in your heart, you'll do well!
About the Author
Kevin Sinclair is the publisher and editor of musicianhome.com, a site that provides information and articles for musicians at all stages of their development.
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