Audition Tips #1 – Songs
When I was starting out, getting advice on how to approach an audition seemed hard to get. For audition tips, I did the obvious and spoke to people in the business, tutors and consulted the web. But, I found it hard to reconcile the information into a good solid and consistent theme. So, over the next few weeks, I’m going to publish a series of audition tips based on the advice I had received and found useful and my experiences. This week, I’m focusing on songs.
From my past experience at auditions, it is a sensible idea to have a range of songs, sometimes specific drama schools, conservatoires or universities will give you details on what they would like you to bring. For example, some schools ask for songs from a specific era, or songs in a particular style, such as Jazz. For my auditions, I took songs which came under three specific criteria; these being upbeat, ballad and pre-1965. These are my ideal categories, and my personal recommendations, others may disagree but these three show your range and ability as a singer.
Upbeat songs are a chance to show the panel your techniques such as breathing, enunciation and rhythm. You will commonly see more modern musicals in this category, pop/rock musicals being fairly popular. My go to song was ‘Watch What Happens’ from Newsies, I found this song challenging, but it made me use skills I hadn’t used as much in other songs. There are obviously tons of musicals and songs you could sing, but my advice would be not to choose a complicated song, keep it simple enough you don’t have to do too much work, but try and find a song that will demonstrate your ability to cope with pace and different styles of music.
For a ballad, it can be from any era or musical, this is where you can showcase your belting skills, and where you can bring in acting through song. I chose “Can You Find It In Your Heart?” from Footloose, The Musical. This was a song I could bring in my acting skills and give a true performance. You should be able to connect with a good ballad, and communicate your emotions with the audience. However, it is important to stay within your vocal range, if you have found a song but there is a note you can never hit, don’t strain your voice and risk it, find another song that fits within your range. I have seen a few too many risky song choices, from both men and women, and have taken a few myself to know when to go for it and when to hold back.
Pre-1965, this is a category that is seen regularly in auditions, however it can be tricky to find songs that fit into it. My issues with this style of song is that I personally find it difficult to sing as my voice doesn’t suit the style of music. However, I can’t turn up to an audition without a song, therefore my pre-1965 song is “I Got Lost In His Arms” from Annie Get Your Gun. It can be fairly difficult to find songs from this era, without looking at Oklahoma!, Carousel, The King and I, or Oliver! So don’t worry, I know the struggles but there are some great websites that have a range of songs everyone.
I hope these audition tips are useful for anyone struggling with preparation, the main focus point is to show the panel what you can offer them and why they should take you on. Be yourself, and remember to listen and be polite. Don’t be afraid to sing unknown songs, the panel would much rather hear a new song, than another version of ‘I Dreamed A Dream’.
So, there you have my thoughts and audition tips on songs, next week I’ll share my thoughts on monologues.