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One of the most nerve-wracking things a performer can do is audition.

Auditions are a time-tested part of working in the music business (or almost any facet of the entertainment world, as Actors and Dancers aren’t immune to the rigors of auditions either), and while they are almost universally disliked, for the moment, there is no way to get around them.

As a singer, or as someone who wants to be a professional vocalist, you’re going to be auditioning a lot and for many different kinds of things. You’ll have to try out for every show, many performance opportunities, and to get into school, which can be one of the most intimidating of all auditions, since it may have a major impact on what you do for the rest of your career.

There’s no avoiding auditions and there’s little you can do to completely rid yourself of the fear of them so the best advice I can give is to focus on what needs to be done in order for you to succeed. Don’t think about messing up or not being chosen in the end. Simply stick to the tips below and even if you don’t come out on top (you can’t win them all, you know), at least you can know in your heart you nailed it!

Don’t act as if you’re the best, just be the best.

Know That You Are Worthy

First and foremost, you need to enter an audition knowing you deserve it. If you can’t muster this kind of determination and confidence, you’re doing yourself and your talent a disservice and those listening to you will be able to hear how unsure you are in your voice.

Now, don’t think I’m telling you to be cocky because there is nothing worse than somebody coming off as arrogant — especially in an audition situation. If you want to put off everyone in the room immediately, act as if you’re too good to try out or like you don’t need whatever role you’re attempting to win.

You should not just convey but truly believe you are worthy of winning when it comes to this audition. The prize may be a spot at a college, a scholarship, or maybe an actual job, but what’s at stake isn’t the biggest concern. If you want it, you need to feel like a proper fit.

While that can be really difficult to do sometimes, especially when you’re up against other talented singers or if you’re still new, many people who end up nailing auditions do so because they believed in themselves and what they had to offer.

Be Prepared

Ninety percent of coming out on top of almost anything — be it an audition, a job interview, or even something like a sports game — is preparation. You’re going to need to put in a lot of time and effort before you even begin to sing.

Before you head into any audition, especially if you’re looking to be a singer, you need to prepare and in more ways than you might imagine. The obvious first step when it comes to mastering any piece is doing it over and over and over. Many musicians and vocalists love what they do and that’s why they get into this business but by the time you’re done practicing any piece of music, you should be almost sick of it.

This may sound extreme, but the biggest stars and the most talented voices in the music world know practice — an incredible amount of it — makes perfect.

In addition to actually running through the song or songs potentially dozens of times, if you want to be as prepared as possible to land the audition you’re gearing up for, you should do some research before you enter the room. (The actual number of repetitions will differ based on what you’re singing, the importance of the audition and how familiar you already are with what you’ve decided to present.)

Who are you performing for? What do they like and what has wowed them before? You can either create your own estimations based on who those judges have rewarded in the past or you can reach out to others who have succeeded.

Also, look into the song you’re going to sing in this audition. Don’t just learn the words and the melodies. Go deeper. This can help you understand the song better and feel it on a different level. What was the Songwriter, Lyricist, or Composer trying to say? Are there any historical connotations connected to the piece?

There is a lot you can learn about a track by understanding the context within which it was either created or made famous. This knowledge may help you not only perform it differently (perhaps better than you would have if you didn’t know anything), but you may be able to slip in your newfound knowledge while speaking with those running the audition, which will show them just how much you put into your preparation.

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Believe In What You’re Presenting

You can remember everything there is to know about a song, but in the end, if you don’t believe in it, those listening to you present it won’t believe it either. A truly great vocal performance isn’t just technical. It’s also emotional and like acting, if you go into a high-stakes audition and do nothing but recite the lines you’ve memorized at the right time, you’re not going to come out on top.

No matter how much you hate the song you’re going to be belting out (which can happen in auditions, especially if the cut has been chosen for you), you need to not only give it your all but find a way to truly feel it and believe in it.

Part of doing the research I mentioned above is so you can form an emotional connection to the words and the music, which will, in turn, help you believe the message the music is asking you to deliver.

This idea is difficult to grasp for many vocalists, especially those who are either just starting out or who have never taken their singing careers or musical education to the next level, but it’s necessary to truly kill an audition. Do what the greatest Actors do and don’t just pretend you’re another person, become that person. Don’t just sing a song, feel it at its deepest and it will come through in your performance.

Take Your Time

Listen, everybody gets nervous, and there is nothing wrong with that. It’s next to impossible to completely rid yourself of all nerves and that’s because it is an entirely natural reaction. In fact, if you are headed into the audition which decides whether or not you are accepted into the college or university of your dreams and you’re not even the slightest bit nervous, you may not be understanding the gravity of the situation.

Having said this, it is important to learn how to manage your nerves, because dispelling them entirely probably isn’t an option. There are a million different ways to control and decrease your nervousness. If you’re the type who is scared to perform in front of people or even someone who can every once in a while feel the pressure, I suggest you spend a lot of time doing research and practicing the techniques that have worked for others.

I won’t go into listing the dozens of options written and discussed by people who have tons of experience with performing in front of large crowds — imagining the people in front of you naked, lying to yourself and pretending it’s just you, etc. — because there are plenty of ideas and each one might fit a different type of singer.

The one thing I will suggest is you keep in mind your pacing. I mean that when it comes to both your actual singing and speaking with those in front of you.

Nothing conveys nervousness like rushing because it’s a sign you simply want to complete whatever task is in front of you and step out of the spotlight. As a potential vocalist hoping to enter a program where you will be singing in front of plenty of people over a span of years (and that’s only looking at your college education), you can’t be the type who hates being the focus of attention.

From the moment you walk into the room and say hello until you are no longer in sight of those deciding how you did, you need to take your time and present yourself at a relaxed but alert pace. Rushing will show them how scared you are and it could wreck the vocal performance you’ve been rehearsing for so long.

You may be the best singer trying out for a coveted slot at a school or musical production but if you can’t slow down and show that to them when it counts, someone else will earn your position.

Be Energetic!

Now, just because I have suggested remaining somewhat relaxed during your performance, you shouldn’t be low energy. This could kill your chances just as much as if you go too quickly. If you don’t seem like you’re happy to be there, why would these people want you to join them in whatever it is you’re auditioning for, whether it be a school, a show, or even a vocal group?

From the moment you step into the room, those watching you should be able to sense your enthusiasm. You should smile, speak clearly, and look people in the eye…but not too much (that might just be weird). They should know instantly you are confident and that you come bearing a great vibe.

Even if you don’t end up giving the best performance of your life (at least technically, which can make quite a difference as a vocalist), they’re sure to remember you for your energy and anything that demonstrates how memorable you are is something to focus on. Some chart-toppers aren’t known for their singing ability, but rather because they are true stars through and through.

Some people lean one way or the other, but those who can really belt and who have a stellar personality have the best shot at coming out on top.

Have a big audition coming up? Check out our blogs on how to find your best audition song, what judges want to see in singing auditions, and how to find a great Voice Training Coach.


How do you get selected for singing auditions?

Alison Stolpa (Careers in Music Staff)

Whether or not you’ve got a good chance of being selected for a singing audition depends on what you’re auditioning for; the type of person who would get chosen to sing for the judges on The Voice may not be the type of person who would get chosen to audition for a Broadway musical, a college program in vocal performance, or a heavy metal cover band.

In general, though, if you want to get selected for singing auditions, you should:

  • Have audio/video of yourself singing (BandCamp links, a YouTube video, MP3s).
  • Know what types of auditions make sense for your goals and your talent.
  • Submit all requested materials mentioned in the submission guidelines.
  • Be able to talk about yourself in an interesting but humble manner.
  • Be able to demonstrate that you’re a team player and not a total diva.
  • Respond promptly and professionally to all communications.
  • Show up to your audition on time.

What are the 6 types of voices?

Alison Stolpa (Careers in Music Staff)

The six different types of voices, from lowest vocal range to highest are:

  1. Bass
  2. Alto
  3. Baritone
  4. Mezzo-soprano
  5. Tenor
  6. Soprano

Alto and Bass are considered low voices. Both Mezzo-soprano and Baritone are considered medium voices. Soprano and Tenor are considered high voices.

What is the best color to wear to an audition?

Alison Stolpa (Careers in Music Staff)

Make sure to read any instructions for your audition before deciding what to wear. For example, many TV singing competition auditions will request you wear clothing without logos. For chamber music auditions, a black dress or a button-down shirt and slacks in muted colors may be appropriate.

If there is no standard style of dress for your audition and no listed instructions, choose a color that you find flattering and look/feel your best in. Jewel tones and primary colors are a good idea as they help you stand out in theatres that are often dark or, if you’re filming your audition, against the standard grey or blue photo backdrop used in many self-tape studios.

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