Choosing the right repertoire is so incredibly important. Your song choice can make or break an audition. A well-chosen piece can transform a singer; it can make a beginning singer sound like they’ve been doing it all their life, a brilliant singer transcendent and even a bad singer look decent! The power of carefully and thoughtfully selected repertoire should never be underestimated.
Here are some guidelines:
- Simpler is better. Your repertoire should be comfortably within your current ability level. You do not get extra points for trying something too hard for you and failing at it. If you go for the high belt note and crack, you don’t get kudos for the attempt. Audition repertoire is not where you want to challenge yourself.
Something that you can sing perfectly EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. is so much more impressive than a hard piece done badly.
- When auditioning for colleges or scholarships, remember they are looking for potential, not perfection.
- When auditioning for a specific show, keep in mind the style and era, and the general mood of the show and the specific character(s) you are interested in playing.
- Unless they specifically ask for it, never sing a song from the show that you are auditioning for. Since most composers have multiple shows and songs to choose from, you can always find a similar song. But the same composer is not always necessary as long as you get the time period right.
- If the show is generally fun and comic, probably an uptempo song is your best bet. Singing a slow, sad song will not help the auditioner imagine you in the show. Conversely, if you are auditioning for, say, Next to Normal, perhaps you should strongly consider a serious contemporary ballad.
- Age Appropriate : You must be able to fully understand, connect and relate to your song, the character, and situation.
- “Acting is living truthfully under imaginary circumstances.”- Meisner
- You should not be playing a character more than 10-15 years older than you.
- I cannot stress this enough: We live in a very PC world: if you are Caucasian, you absolutely cannot sing something written for an ethnic character for an audition.
- BE YOU. Auditioners are looking for a unique person with a unique personality, point of view and talent. Do what you do best and love to sing. Don’t do what you “think” the infamous ‘they’ want to hear.
- When looking for repertoire, please look beyond the most popular musicals of the moment. If it is currently on Broadway, you are asking to be compared unfavorably with the stars who are currently doing it. And unless you do it superbly well and have a unique interpretation of it, we don’t want to hear the same 15 songs over and over again. There are thousands of wonderful songs out there to discover.
A final caveat: if you don’t have enough time to prepare “the perfect song” for a specific audition, sing what you sing best and let the chips fall where they may. (Unless it’s totally wrong…ie: if all you have is rock/pop, perhaps My Fair Lady is not your show, or you’re like me and all your songs fall into the Golden Age category, perhaps don’t audition for Rock of Ages. ) It’s great when everything lines up just so, but let’s face it, sometimes we have to go with what we have ready and hope for the best.
After all, good singing is good singing.
- Being prepared, polished and comfortable with your material is better than throwing something together at the last moment. Not only will you do better in general, you aren’t likely to be quite as nervous.