Often, when I tell my students I have an upcoming audition I’m preparing for they say, “Woah, you still have to audition?”
Yes, even professional singers still audition. I’d like to share with you my most recent audition experience.
In September, I was asked to re-audition for a gig that I’ve held since before Covid. It is not strange to be asked to re-audition…things change in a year and a half! I was thrilled to get the chance to sing live for humans again!
In preparation, I took 2 lessons with my own voice teacher (YES, I still take my own voice lessons as the voice is always growing and changing…and aging!). We warmed up, and worked through technique for my chosen repertoire. The company asked for 1 aria/art song in English and one in either French, Italian, or German.
I chose “Joy” by Ricky Ian Gordon and “Du gai soleil” from the opera Werther. I love singing both of those pieces, and they fit my voice well. They are also just different enough to be exciting and show off a couple of higher notes where my voice sparkles!
The company also asked that we prepare to sight-sing. This is always so nerve-wracking! They give you several lines of notes and a starting pitch. After 30 seconds of looking over it, you must begin! I look for the key, any tricky rhythmic places, wide intervals, or accidentals. I trust my musicianship and use a combination of solfege, pretend piano playing with my fingers, and interval recall to sing through the line. My best advice is to just keep going! Try not to judge yourself as you’re singing through. Did I sing the lines with 100% accuracy? No way…but I did keep going, trying to nail the rhythm and accidentals! As someone who is a much better “preparer” than “on the spot” singer, I was relieved when I came to the end!
Auditions are always nerve-inducing, but if you prepare fully you’ll be less nervous. Allow yourself to really become your character, so you’re not thinking about anything else. You can’t truly be present as your character if you’re thinking about your dress, what the conductor is thinking, or what you’ll have for dinner
I walked out of my audition feeling grateful and fulfilled. I sang for an actual human being!!! It was truly thrilling.
This past weekend I had the joy and honor of serving as a judge for the 2021 NW Arkansas All-Region Choir!
High School students from the NWA region (Bentonville, Rogers, Siloam Springs, Fayetteville, Centerton, etc.) submitted around 3 minutes of audition material so we could score them and rank their submissions. The top 20 in each voice part will be invited to join the prestigious All-Region Choir! This Choir works with a guest conductor (often a highly acclaimed college choir director, or choir professional) to perform a public program of beautiful choral works.
I heard over 120 individual recordings of 3 audition song cuts for Tenor/Bass parts. I was asked to offer a score 1-30 or 1-10 depending on the category for feedback in: Musicality, Diction, Accuracy, and Tone Quality. I remember auditioning for these choirs when I was growing up in North Carolina! It’s amazing to be on the other side of the table now.
I would like to offer some recording/auditioning best practices:
From a judge’s perspective, we really want you to do well! It is so exciting to hear a truly polished recording! I’m looking forward to attending the All-Regions concert later this year and hearing all of these beautiful voices together.
Maria Palombo is the founder of Finely Tuned Voice Lessons, a private voice studio accessible anywhere with internet! Voice lessons are for all, regardless of age or ability!