Ready for your next audition? Going on your first audition? Losing sleep over said audition? Here’s some tips from Alexia, one of NYC’s top voice teachers to help you out!
1.Pick The Right Repertoire
Picking the right repertoire is my number one must for going into an audition. Of course, there are exceptions when we are asked to learn something new for an audition, but as much as possible, it is important to audition with something that you love to sing and know very well. If you walk in with a song or aria that you just started memorizing a few days before, it will show. Set yourself up for success! Sing repertoire that shows off your best qualities, and that you can still sing well even when you are not feeling your best. Being able to focus on the feeling and meaning of the music in an audition, rather than on hitting all the right notes, will set you apart. Also, try to sing something that you have performed before. Singing something only with your teacher or by yourself is very different than performing in front of others. If you have not had an opportunity to perform something before an audition, try to get a group of friends or family together to try out some of your repertoire. That way you can feel more prepared and confident to do your best.
- Dress Your Best
Being confident is a key factor in having a good audition, so wear a dress or suit that you feel great in. Wear a color that looks good on you and makes you shine. Don’t be afraid to let your audition outfit show your personality, it will help the panel get to know you better. For ladies, make sure to avoid a neckline that is too low or a dress that is too short. Stick to a hem that is right at or below the knee. A tasteful piece of jewelry is always a great option, but avoid jewelry that is too flashy or moves around a lot when you sing. Anything you wear should enhance your performance, and not distract or take away from your singing.
- Fuel Your Body
Singing is a sport. It requires your whole body to be able to perform well, so you need to fuel your body in order to have the proper energy to perform. It is important to have a protein packed meal before an audition or performance. Carbohydrate heavy foods like pasta or bread will not give you the proper energy to get through a performance. My go to pre-audition meal is a grilled piece of meat with steamed vegetables and a small potato. This leaves me feeling satisfied and energized to take on an audition, without feeling overly full. One food I always avoid the day before an audition is garlic as it tends to dry out the vocal cords.
- Stay Hydrated
Making sure your vocal cords are properly hydrated is very important. On the day of an audition make sure to drink lots of water. Two things I always have before an audition are pineapple juice and coconut water. Pineapple juice contains an enzyme called bromelain which reduces inflammation in the nose and sinuses. It helps my voice to feel strong and healthy. I also never go to an audition without coconut water in hand. I find that it gives my throat an extra boost of hydration and keeps me hydrated for longer periods of time. ( A trick I use for combating dry mouth is to have some sour gummy candy before I need to sing. )
- Don’t Fight With Your Nerves
The largest problem most singers face when auditioning is nerves. My advice for dealing with this is don’t fight it! Being nervous is a natural response and is OK. Nerves are something that everyone deals with. My suggestion is rather than spending your energy trying to make yourself stop being nervous, allow yourself to feel what you are feeling and know that you can still perform through it. Nerves and adrenaline can actually add an extra boost of energy to your performance or help you hit that high note. Don’t put too much pressure on one audition. There will always be another opportunity. Take each audition as a learning experience because no matter the outcome, no one audition can define you as an artist.
I can’t count the number of times a student has told me, “I can’t sing with vibrato, I’m a pop singer;” or “I can’t sing an aria, I’m a musical theatre singer.” Admittedly, I was once a victim of this kind of thinking. I would say, “I can’t belt, I’m a legit singer.” Lies! I’m here to tell you that this kind of thinking is wrong. A singer with the right training can safely sing whatever style he/she wants to sing. How? Easy, technique.
Technique is technique, regardless of style. Once a singer has learned the technique they can branch into any genre. When I say technique, I do mean the meaty, gritty boring stuff that makes a good singer an exceptional singer. Soft palate, tongue placement, diaphragm, support, placement of the sound, vibrato, ironing out the different registers, vowel sounds, consonants, etc. This is tough, and sometimes boring work. But it yields the results, because every single style of music uses this same technique. There are only minor differences.
Jazz singing has a brighter sound, with minimal vibrato. Pop has a shallower sound, again with minimal vibrato. Musical theatre (depending on the song, but generally) has more vibrato and a taller sound, plus you have to act. Classical singing has lots of vibrato and a much taller sound. But if you don’t know how to engage your soft palate, place your sound, or control your vibrato, you limit yourself. And why be stuck doing only one thing when you have the potential and ability to do anything?
So now the question remains, can you learn how to do this? Yes, just find a good vocal coach. Someone who will work on building your voice with you. Again, it’s tough work, so you need to find someone who you trust and can work with for a long period of time. The work never stops, but if you’re passionate about being a versatile vocalist you will grow.
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What are the benefits of playing in a recital?
When students perform in a recital in front of friends, teachers, and family, they provide great entertainment value to the audience. However, recitals benefit the participants too. Here are some of the benefits of playing in a recital:
- Having something to work for
Something will change in you when you hear that you will be performing in a recital. Apart from the sense of urgency and nervousness, there is a deadline. If you don’t know the value of a deadline, ask working people who have to deal with one almost daily. When you have a recital to look forward to, you start practicing more often. Wether you are taking online lessons or in home music lessons, your sense of urgency to get the song right is a great motivator! You are willing to absorb information more than ever before. Once the recitals become routine, you are likely to keep working just as hard after the recital because you’ve enjoyed the rewards of your efforts.
- Gaining performance experience
When you perform in a recital at a young age, you gain valuable performance experience. If it is your dream to be a professional musician, you will certainly need to get lots of live shows under your belt. It takes a few things to get used to performing in a live setting. It’s not easy to perform in front of people. You need lots of practice. When you are new to recitals, performance anxiety will be the order of the day. However, the more you perform in front of an audience, the easier it becomes. You learn how to play through a mistake or take a gracious bow or smile at the audience. That way, you are gaining very valuable experience to use for future performances.
- Getting inspired by advanced performers
In many recitals, more beginner students are placed closer to the beginning with the more experienced coming at the end. That way, you get to watch the more advanced students do their thing. As a beginner, you see a great performance and discover that you are capable of playing like that too. All you need is some more time, practice, and energy. You will definitely leave the stage psyched to do exactly what you saw the seniors do. With time, your motivation will increase even as your performance skills improve.
Gaining a great sense of pride
This is perhaps the most important benefit you will get out of recitals! You have definitely worked very hard taking lessons in your home and faced the worst of your fears. How would you feel when the applause and smiles finally come from the audience? You will wish this magical moment of the recital lasts forever. Like most students, you will feel special, accomplished, and appreciated for all your hard work. It’s a moment like this that makes it worth the effort. This is when you are likely to psyche yourself up for the next challenge. When you enjoy this at a young age, you become more fearless. Your self-esteem will be boosted like never before. You will definitely look back when you are older and more successful with a smile that you were able to accept this awesome challenge.