15 Tips to Nail Your Singing Audition

Lists   15 Tips to Nail Your Singing Audition
 
Anthony Rapp, Rebecca Luker, Jen Colella, and Brad Bass offer their best advice.
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Three-time Tony nominee Rebecca Luker (The Secret Garden, Fun Home), Brad Bass (Wicked, Jersey Boys), Jen Colella (If/Then, Come From Away) and Anthony Rapp (Rent, You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown) know the importance —and the challenge—of owning a vocal audition. These pros offered workshops in song interpretation and vocal technique at BroadwayCon 2017. From song choice to facial expressions, here are 15 pieces of advice to help you ace your audition emotionally and vocally:

1. Assume no one has ever heard your song before.
During her song interpretation workshop, Rebecca Luker, along with her husband, Danny Burstein, explained the best way to tell a story is to assume that no one has every heard it before. From there, you can take the listener on a new adventure and engage with your interpretation of the song.

2. Spit out your words.
Many of us have a tendency to sing through our words a little too fast, which means they get muffled. Luker told her workshop participants to “spit every single word out,” even if it makes them sound a little unnatural.

Rebecca Luker works with BroadwayCon attendees
Rebecca Luker works with BroadwayCon attendees Joseph Marzullo/WENN

3. Keep your eyes open.
This may seem simple, but performers often close their eyes in the throes of a dramatic song for an unnaturally long amount of time. Belting expert Brad Bass reminded his workshop participants that introspective moments can work very well, but they shouldn’t take up entire performances.

4. Ask yourself, “Who am I singing this to?”
During Jenn Colella’s vocal workshop, she noticed that some singers were having difficulty connecting to their songs. Colella advised: Think of a personal experience that reminds you of the song, visualize the person who catalyzed that experience, “place” said person in the back of the room, and sing to them.

5. Choose a song that speaks to you.
As a performer, you have to be able to find a moment in your life where you felt like the character, regardless of whether or not you were in similar circumstances.

6. It never hurts to speak certain lyrics.
Each of the four workshop leaders agreed that speaking through certain lyrics brings new emotional levels to a song. This technique also makes the moments where you sing even more impactful.

7. Be hopeful throughout your song.
Even if you know that things aren’t going to work out for your character in the end, you must always keep up hope during your song. “It’s easier to root for a character who thinks they’re going to win, as opposed to be an ‘Ah, well. Whatever,’ kind of character,” said Colella.

8. Throw a water bottle.
Brad Bass kept four empty water bottles onstage during his belting workshop. He explained that if you’re worried about hitting a high note, then you should try throwing an empty water bottle while singing through it. This will place tension elsewhere. “When I was auditioning for Wicked, do you know how many bottles I threw across the room?” he joked.

9. But, don’t release all of your tension at once.
During his workshop, Anthony Rapp instructed to release dramatic tension gradually or build to it. If you start your song at your highest level of intensity, you’ll find yourself with nowhere to go from there.

10. If you can out-sing a Broadway star, prove it.
“If you’re going into a big audition in New York and tell them that you’re going to be singing ‘She Used to Be Mine’ from Waitress, everyone is going to roll their eyes,” said Bass. “But if it means something to you, then you should sing it. I also believe that if you can out-sing Jessie Mueller, Betty Buckley, or anyone else, walk in there and prove it. Just make sure you have a second song as well.”

Jenn Colella works with BroadwayCon attendees
Jenn Colella Marc J. Franklin

11. Sit by yourself for ten minutes before performing.
Each workshop leader expressed the importance of sitting alone for a few minutes before an audition. Breathe and refocus before the audition, so if you enter the room and feel nervous at least you feel centered enough to deliver a strong performance.

12. Work on your poker face.
If you aren’t completely comfortable with a note, don’t “flag.” Brad Bass explained to one of the performers in his workshop that he saw when she was nervous about hitting a note because her eyes widened. Act through the fear and tell the story. Confidence is key.

13. Be kind. Be kind. Be kind.
“So much of what has gotten me hired is the energy that I bring into a room and the energy I bring into a show,” said Colella. “I’m respectful, I’m kind, and I’m compassionate to everyone I meet.” No one is completely without nerves and friendly faces make the casting process much easier for everyone.

14. Never attempt to recreate a moment.
Trying to recreate a moment from a past performance will almost never work. According to Rapp, “allow yourself to find new moments each time you perform.” This will keep your performances fresh and exciting for you and your audience.

15. Don’t let anyone say you can’t sing something.
If you’re an alto, but want to (and can) sing a song traditionally performed by sopranos, do it. “I don’t think anyone has the right to tell you no about whatever you want to sing,” said Bass. “If you want to try to hit a note, go for it. There are some things you’ll never be able to do physically because they aren’t in your muscles, but what’s stopping you from trying?”

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