The Audition Muscle

Writing this from New York City, on the eve of a week’s worth of auditions. If you’re in the biz, you know that the autumn months are a gauntlet of sorts for singers- applications, acceptances, rejections, auditions, offers, contracts. Aside from being one of the weirdest interview processes of which I could conceive, (you have 10 minutes to tell me all about your training, your aspirations, and your artistry…the catch is that you have to tell me using someone else’s words, and most likely do so in a foreign language. But, as a plus, you get to use some pretty killer tunes to make your point.), it’s the basis on which our corner of the art is built. A necessary evil.

We talk about auditioning being a muscle that, when worked out regularly, improves. I don’t believe that anyone really enjoys the experience, but I think that it does become easier with practice. Most things do.

This is also the time of year when people will start to second-guess their career paths. They didn’t get the auditions, or any offers for next summer or next year. The choice is to either dig in more fully, or to look around and investigate other options. Everyone’s timetable is different, as are the the thresholds.

Let me put it one way: after 7+ years of sitting on an audition panel, hearing over 500 singers each year? I can say that 90% of the singers I hear are doing a lot of things right. They’ve done the work; they know the text and subtext of their piece, they have good diction, they sing in tune. (That last one’s a bigger deal breaker than you might think.) There are 5% who end up singing for us who are not ready, in one way or another. And then there are the super-shiny top 5%, who give us an authentic artistic experience when they walk into the audition room. The performances aren’t perfect, but they’re compelling- fundamentals are exceeded, and we get a sense of the singer’s artistic voice.

If you hate auditioning? Before you walk away, do it more often; so that the hate becomes mere dislike, and less epic. If you can’t get there? Well, then you’ve given it a fair shake, and maybe investigating other options is the way to go.

Commit. Ride the wave. (And, when you get to shore? Decide whether you want to go back in, or whether it’s time for an ice cream on the way home. )

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