Sunday musings about auditioning...
Just as we need to revisit the foundations of the physicality of singing regularly to see what needs to be adjusted, so should we revisit what we do in the room while auditioning.
You can't control being called back, or being hired, but you can control that room and the energy you bring into it: how you shape it; how you prepare for it; how present you are in it; and how you leave it behind.
Auditions are like a first date. Think about that for a minute. What do you want to reveal about yourself initially? Too much information is not getting a text to say "let's meet for coffee tomorrow". Just enough information creates an interest or an intrigue to want to get to know you better.
As you have heard a million times, you can't know what "they" are looking for. You can't read their minds. Don't even try.
I give you permission to REVEAL. Reveal that game face that allows YOU to be the reason the audition is successful.
So, what's your game face? What is it about you, that you want them to see/sense/stop to pay attention to?
I hear it already: Yeah, but Susan, they don't even look up! They don't even pay attention....they are on their computers/phones...somebody is eating...
SHTAP IT ALREADY!
If you put half the energy into YOUR reveal and being present in what you are doing in that room as you do on what THEY are doing or not doing - oh it would be quite a different audition experience for you!
So here are a few things to consider:
1. No excuses. I mean NONE. None of this "sorry my book is a mess" bullshit. Your book shouldn't be a mess. Clean it up. Clean it out. None of this "I wasn't sure what you wanted, so I hope this is okay" bullshit. Sing what you sing what you sing. No excuses. No apologies. No disclaimers. None.
2. Decide what you are revealing in that room. A hint: it's going to feel like it's not enough. Reminder: don't add more. Keep it real, keep it true, and guess what? make it about YOU. You have absolutely no idea what they are buying. You cannot morph yourself into something you THINK they might buy. You do you, and if that's not what they need/want/desire right now, then so be it.
3. Do not bring desperation with you into the building, onto the elevator, into the hallway, into the holding room, up to the monitor. Desperation takes on many different forms: apology, frustration, over-talking, bragging to anybody who will hear, warming up loudly, non-stop talking to anybody who will hear, bitching, changing your repertoire last minute because you heard someone else sing it before you, second-guessing what you are wearing; Desperation is worn in many ways. Leave her on the street and tell her to go pick you up a coffee for after the audition. By then, she'll have probably disappeared to try to ride someone else's coattails.
4. Stay present. Stay contained. Stay you. Are you aware of your body, your breath, your breathing? Do you know how to keep your physicality and voice warm while waiting for your number to be called without lip trilling to the rafters? Can you feel your legs? Are your hands loose? Is your facial energy released and relaxed or are you going to need fillers in your forehead when you leave?
5. What is your goal? Be true to that. Don't deflect here!! I see this all the time. When I ask a singer what their goal is, it often gets too esoteric. This is game time. Be specific. Yes, ultimately you want a call back and then a job. Duh. Don't we all? This comes back to being in the room as long as needed in order to reveal and DO YOU. Don't default. Stay present and true to the firm goal that you are in control of.
6. Quit trying and just DO. What is that for you? Don't TRY to be perky or friendly or quirky or dark. Don't TRY to sing the right thing. Be you, authentically. Do the repertoire that reveals that authenticity.
7. Stay physically present. Do you know what foot you stepped into the room with? Then you weren't present. Do you remember how you got to the piano? How you were breathing while you walked? If you smiled at the people or person at the table? If you said anything, or what you said? SLOW IT ALL DOWN AND STAY PHYSICALLY PRESENT. Did you make eye contact with the pianist? SLOW DOWN. Did you smile? Did you thank them? Did you take those extra 3 seconds or 5 seconds or 8 seconds to ground yourself before you started singing? Staying connected BEFORE you actually sing allows you the possibility of, oh I don't know, staying connected WHILE you sing! Staying present when you finish is crucial too! It's not over until you walk out of the building. The game face continues until you are out of range!
8. Do something afterward. So crucial. Just have something to do: get a coffee, buy some flowers, window shop; it doesn't have to be major, it just has to be something. It helps to decompress your energy and your focus in order to re-enter the world. Do it.
Practice. Know your craft. Know yourself. Recognize and learn the game and play it as you are able. Know that everything is fluid and will change and you will change and grow with it. Don't beat yourself up when something doesn't work or go the way you wanted it to. Shit happens. Life happens. Auditions happen.
See it, own it, feel it, laugh at it, drop it on the street, and move into the next with your head held high.
When someone asks you "how was the audition" and you answer unhesitatingly with "I did what I wanted to do in the room": that, is success!
Susan Eichhorn Young covers all things voice—strong and sophisticated singing and speaking.
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