By Kristin Yancy
Congratulations! You’ve made it through dance cuts. Maybe you’re feeling proud, or exhilarated, or pleasantly surprised…until you recognize that sound, the all too familiar noise melody of 15 girls beginning their vocal warm-ups in the holding room, all at the same time. And once you hear it, it hits you: dread. Dread because maybe singing isn’t really your strong suit. Or maybe neither one of the two songs you brought with you seems right for this audition. Suddenly, you feel like a rookie.
Want to avoid this scenario? Here are some basic guidelines for your vocal call back:
Get Your Book In Order Before You Enter The Room
Here are some very basic guidelines for the most basic material you need in your audition book to be prepared for a vocal call:
1.) Classical Musical Theater (also known as “legit,” something from a traditional show): a ballad and an uptempo
2.) A “Showstopper”: something that shows off your range, a song that would close the show or end the first act
3.) Contemporary Musical Theater: a ballad and an uptempo
4.) A Pop/Rock Song: an 80’s song and a contemporary pop or rock song
5.) A Character Song (e.g. something comedic)
6.) A Jazz Standard, Soul, or Motown number (if those roles would apply to you)
Put each page in a clear sheet protector with a tab for each song, and put all of this in a three ring binder reserved just for your music. Only pick songs you love to sing, as you’ll need to be able to connect with whichever song you choose right away. Make sure your songs are in the right key and that the cut of music you want to sing (either 16 or 32 bars) is clearly marked. Know that the casting team could ask to hear something else, so make sure that everything in your book is something you can sing well on the spot. If you think you will be auditioning for musical roles quite a bit, it is worth it to get with a voice teacher and have them help you put together a strong book. They will have a plethora of suggestions when it comes to song choices and will easily be able to tell you if a song is in the right key for you.
Now that you know you’ve been called back to sing, start by taking some slow, deep breaths. The last thing you want to do is let the adrenaline overpower you and push your voice too hard, which, more often than not, will only lead to screeching and screaming and non-booking. Trust yourself and your abilities and know that you don’t need to push to be heard.
Treat the Accompanist Like Your Savior
Because they are. Often neglected, these are the people that hold your performance in their hands- and they should be treated with respect. Most likely, they will repay the favor with some really beautiful playing- the better for your really beautiful singing! Smile, show them the cut of music you would like to sing, and give them the tempo of your song. Tap it quietly, snapping can be misinterpreted as rude.
Introduce Yourself to the Casting Table
The best thing you can do here is to seem happy and relaxed, even if you aren’t. It is uncomfortable to watch someone who is uncomfortable– don’t make them wish you were out of the room when you have only just walked in! Politely tell them your name and what you will be singing.
Take a Moment For Yourself
Generally, the unspoken sign for this is to look down. Use this moment to connect with your character, the song, and the story you are about to tell. It is far more interesting to watch someone perform who is fully committed to the emotional journey of the music than someone who has a nice voice but no expression.
Go For It!
Now’s your time to shine! It may sound cheesy, but do your best! It won’t always be perfect, but if you’ve done the above steps, you’ll know that you have set yourself up to do the best you can, regardless of the circumstances. When you finish, thank the pianist and the table, and walk out of that room with your head held high. You’re well on your way Flygyal!