So the time has come when you feel you are ready to start doing auditions for professional or amateur companies. The best way to train for the particular stresses involved is to go in as many competitions as possible before you attempt to do an audition. It's essentially the same thing and invaluable experience, plus you might win some money in the process! Both auditioning and competing are not the same as performing in a live show. They are a learned skill that you use to achieve your goals and nothing more. Some folks audition really well and others don't. There's no sense to it at all, and it's definitely not fair, but it's reality, so there's no point in getting upset about it if you struggle during an audition, even if you're confident that you can come good in a performance. Just keep practicing and fronting up to do your best. It will get easier in time.
Here are the important points to address for an audition.
- Dress neatly in smart, casual clothes. You don't need to dress up like an opera diva - it makes you look rather desperate. Hair neat and tidy too, and ladies, keep your makeup subtle. Just normal street makeup is enough. Guys, no makeup at all! Do not turn up in shabby, grungy, dirty shoes and clothes. You will not be taken seriously.
- A big no no is to come dressed in costume and acting your socks off. Save it for the show. The panel may be amused or bewildered, but they won't be impressed. Keep movement to a minimum and don't gesture too much.
- Have a good publicity photo, a copy of your music, and a brief CV for the panel. They like to have this sort of information to read while you are singing.
- Make sure you choose your music according to their guidelines. They will not be impressed if you sing something that they don't want to hear, or something that is inappropriate for this particular audition. If you are auditioning for a role in a Mozart opera, they don't want to hear you singing Verdi or Wagner.
- Present music that is consistent with your vocal type, or fach, and that you can sing well and confidently. There's no point in attempting something that is presently beyond you as it will only make a bad impression. Don't attempt to sing something that you don't know backwards. Nerves may well play havoc with your memory, so you may need to be on autopilot.
- Speak when spoken to, and be pleasant and intelligent in your responses. Big egos don't go down well, so if you have a surfeit of self confidence, keep it hidden for now.
- If you are sick and can't sing properly, it's better to cancel than turn up with lots of excuses, spluttering and coughing and potentially sharing your germs with the others in the room. They will not thank you for this! They will also remember if you sing really badly, even if you are sick. You need to be in the best possible condition vocally.
- Be philosophical if they are not interested. Sometimes they need to hear you over a period of a few years before you register on their radar.
It's not much fun at all really, just a necessary part of the business, so use it to toughen yourself up and polish your skills. You need a hide of leather in this business anyway. Above all remember that whether or not you are successful is not a reflection on you as a person, it is merely a business decision from the point of view of the panel, and they can be brutally unsentimental about the whole business.