Tuesday 27 August 2013

A pop song in the style of Britney Spears?....will "Climb Every Mountain" do?

So, having written about the fright I feel when going into auditions, I thought I should perhaps address the difficulties faced when choosing what material to take to an audition. To many people reading, this is the single most important thing to be addressed when going to an audition. I say, not so!

I have done A LOT of auditions in my time. Some have caused me to leave the building and punch the air victoriously (these can be counted on one hand) others have left me weeping uncontrollably having made the biggest arse (language, sorry) of myself in the audition room (as in the last diary entry I will be using my hands and feet AND someone else's hands to count these). Like so many of you out there, at times we go to an audition (I refer to musical theatre and opera auditions here) and take our absolute best song/aria and show the panel how truly talented we are. Ah, but then there are those auditions where we try to second guess what the panel will want to hear and learn something brand new to present. 

Often the audition is the very first time this brand spanking new piece has been sung for anyone other than your cat or dog and, more than likely, the first time you have done it with a pianist. But that is fine. You know it inside out. You can recite the words in your head without stumbling. You have worked out when you are going to move so you are not standing, boringly, in the same place/position throughout. You are totally ready to do this! So, you get in the room, give your music to the pianist, tell everyone what you are going to sing, stand on your mark and get ready. The pianist starts to play. "Hang on" you think. "This doesn't sound the same as SuBo's recording". "This isn't how it goes" You think, "oh well, I best sing summat and hope for the best". You somehow get to the end but it wasn't pretty. The panel look confused and thank you for taking the time to come in. You thank them back and leave, smiling hopefully in their general direction waiting for the moment when you are far enough away and you can cry/scream/laugh/ring someone.

This, you will agree, is not in anyway ideal and the sort of experience we really should avoid. Of course, at times, you may have been asked to bring something specific (these types of auditions are not included) or you may have been asked to bring something in a particular style. Even in this situation you probably have something that would "do" in your rep folder (repertoire folder - a folder including all the songs you are happy to do in an audition, just in case I am blinding you with science here) and don't HAVE to learn a new piece from scratch for the audition TWO DAYS LATER. I am ashamed to admit that, because I am lazy, I have never really had a rep folder overflowing with songs in every style I am likely to be asked for and have never had the get up and go required to rectify this. It is unacceptable really. A woman of my age and experience should have addressed this years ago and done something about it. On a more positive note I am of the school that is more likely to take something I know, no matter how inappropriate, rather than learn something totally new but it is still lazy. I am telling you all this in the hope that you can learn from my terrible errors.

I had a friend I did a show with years ago who, once our show had had it's notice and, therefore, scheduled to close two weeks later, found herself with no less than four auditions the following week. I swear, she learned a different song for each. No amount of cajoling could persuade her that this was counter productive. She got none of the jobs (she did get panto though so she had work for Christmas. Oh and she is not a Facebook friend or a Twitter follower so chances are she isn't reading this). Not only does this sort of behaviour mean you are likely to get a panel's back up for being unprepared but you put unnecessary pressure on yourselves. We worry so much about what an audition panel want to hear from us that we forget that, fundamentally, they want to know you can sing and that you can tell a story through that song. 

This is not earth shattering wisdom I am imparting here but we are prone to forget it in an effort to please people. As performers it is ingrained in us to constantly want approval from the people who hold our futures in their hands. What we all need to realise is, although we need work in order to pay the bills and, well, survive, we need to be proud of ourselves and gain our own approval (if that is possible). The more we go into auditions thoroughly prepared the easier they get because you lose the one element of auditioning that gets us into more trouble than anything else. Self-doubt.

So please, please, please go to your folder now. Look through it and see where the holes are. Do you have a 1960s pop song, an up-beat, contemporary musical theatre piece, do you have an aria in English? Fill one of those gaps today, well before you need it. I am a firm believer that in the end it is more important that we finish an audition able to say "yes, that went well, I couldn't have done it better" than leave the audition ruing the day someone told us we had a smidgen of talent. 

Some of you out there probably think I am saying nothing new and you know all of this. To you I say that is wonderful. However, if my writing this means that just one reader heeds my words and can leave an audition wanting to punch the air rather than weep then my work here is done.

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