Updated: Aug 17, 2022
If you are an experienced performer or even someone who wants to become a professional singer to get the higher paid shows, let’s talk about some ways for you to stand out at singing auditions.
The topic that I will be discussing will mostly be geared towards musical theater singing auditions, but it can be applied to other singing auditions as well.
Be Proficient At Your Technique
First of all, let’s talk about your technique. In order for you to go beyond the initial auditions, which is the first round of auditions, you need to have a solid foundation of technique and be able to showcase your capabilities at a proficient level. Remember, that we are focusing on professional auditions. Mastery of your skill is absolutely needed to help you get through the audition. If you walked into an audition room and you can’t do what you say you can do on your resume, that’s lying and that will not get you anywhere. Be honest with your skill level. If you are not at an advanced level, that’s okay, just be honest about it. Maybe you want to start going to professional auditions to see what skills you are lacking and then you will go and work on them later. That is definitely smart and a great way to be realistic about your goals.
Advance in singing skills can mean a lot of things, but in this situation we mean:
Music Fundamentals (pitch, reading music, rhythm, and phonation)
Vocal Technique (breath support, placement, resonance, cord closure, and coordination)
From someone who has cast a show and rehearsed with performers before, the most frustrating thing is that a performer states very proudly that they can do something, but the time comes for them to actually execute it, they can’t. Understand that when you are applying for a professional job, you have to be able to do the job! Not only should you be able to do the job, but you need to do it well. Otherwise, the entire show will be subpar.
Remember The Reason
One of the reasons why we love watching people perform on stage is that you get to see how amazing the performers are. They are amazing because they worked really hard to get there. So if you are someone who is wishing to get a chance but don’t have any skills to offer, then you will not get cast. Do not rely on pretty looks to get the job. That degrades your integrity and the audience won’t like that.
Just remember the feeling when you watch a show. When you go to audition for one of these shows, you need to emulate what you would like to see if you were an audience member. You need to go above and beyond to make the show as wonderful as it can be, so why would you want to be below that standard when auditioning for a show? That way, when you arrive at the audition location, you walk in with confidence because now, you feel like you can perform with a purpose. You’re not just there to beg for the job. You are there to showcase what you can do, and you are showing them that you are right for the job.
Treat The Audition Like A Performance
The best thing to do when you stand in front of the casting table is to treat it like a performance. The director, casting director, choreographer, and music director want to see a show. They want to see someone make their vision of the show come true. Be that person.
However, you need to bring value to your performance or it will be bland and boring. Understand that you are competing with 100s of other people who are just as good, if not better than you. What will make you stand out?
Sing your song like you are telling a story. A song is essentially a story but written in music form. Immerse the audience into your scene, so it’s important that you set that up right away. The first 3 seconds of your audition are the most important. If you lose their attention at the beginning, it’s over. Tell the story. Set up the scene. Stay in character.
Make sure you’re not making awkward gestures, thinking that it is storytelling. Some people think they are acting the song really well when they aren’t. That’s why you need to rehearse it and get coached on it. Get another person’s perspective on your performance before auditioning.
Here are some ideas on how you can tell the story better:
1. Find the message
In every song, there is a message, a point that needs to be made. You need to look at the lyrics and figure out the meaning, and the lesson to be learned in the song. If you can bring this out, it allows the audience to walk away thinking they have learned something valuable. The keyword is VALUE. That will make you stand out, on top of your vocal skills. You need to be proficient at your skills to deliver that message to get that value out. Otherwise, your song is empty and lackluster even if you sing everything vocally correct.
2. Create memories
Stories are memorable because it relates to the audience’s own situation or personal experiences, making you stay impressionable. They now associate you with memories, allowing you to be remembered. Many performers are forgotten after an audition. It happens when I was casting too where there were a lot of eager singers, but the ones who didn’t put any work into their performance were easily ignored and forgotten. It’s not that we want to, it’s just we have to start casting right away and there is no time to feel wishy-washy about someone.
3. Create emotions
When you are storytelling through your song, you can create memories that tap into the listener’s own mood and sensation. This will allow you to connect with them emotionally because it’s what makes us human. We feel pain, joy, amusement, guilt, doubt, rage, and loss. This is very powerful and this is where you can make a listener “lean into” your performance.
4. Build a connection
Stories build connections and a sense of relationship with the audience. This builds trust and acceptance, making you be more relatable and approachable. This is when a listener feels like you are directly talking to them. That is what will make you hireable. It shows how well you can captivate the attention of the audience, making them forget where they are and just listen to you. Nothing else matters around them, and they become invested in your story. They want to know how you’ll resolve the conflict, how you will get out of the situation, and how you will overcome it. They are rooting for you. That’s essentially what the casting people want to do, they really do want to root for you, but you have to give them a reason to. Use storytelling!
Combine Technique With Storytelling
Now that you know you can use storytelling in such a powerful way, you have to make sure you have the technique to deliver all of that. If you have great stories ready to be told, but you can’t carry out the music that it is told through, then it won’t come out the way you intend it to. Use your vocal technique to convey what you want. The ability to control your voice to tell a story makes you stand out way more than someone who can just sing with pure technique. As a performer, your job is to transform people’s experiences and make them feel a thrill they cannot find anywhere else and you can only do that if you can combine technique and story together.
Not everyone can sing in such a way that tells a story really well. A lot of people think they can, but it doesn’t come across that way. Some comedians think their jokes are really funny, but then the audience doesn’t react accordingly. So maybe you think you really are good at acting and singing already, but you’re still not booking any professional shows. Something is missing or something is off about the delivery of your song.
Here are ways to solve that:
Record yourself and watch what you are doing. Does it look and sound good? Does it look like what you were trying to convey? Try different interpretations of the song and see which one you like and continue to discover new things as you rehearse.
Get private coaching. Sometimes we are too self-critical and it gets us nowhere when all we do is negatively judge ourselves, especially when we look at our own performances. Get another professional perspective on your performance and they can offer new suggestions or feedback that help your performance stand out.
It Takes Work To Stand Out
That is how you stand out at auditions. It’s a whole process. You can’t just walk in and demand the job. You have to prove that you can do the job and do it well. Can you pick up music quickly if rehearsals are only two weeks long? Can you harmonize with others when given sheet music? Can you take direction and create the vision the director wants right away? All of these skills will show that you are dependable, reliable, trustworthy, and responsible. You would want to hire this kind of performer too right?
If you ever need a different perspective on your performance, go onto my website to book private coaching. There are lessons specifically made for singers who want to work on their performance, not so much about learning vocal fundamentals, but diving right into elevating the acting, storytelling, and other audition skills needed to help you succeed on stage.