Tag Archives: auditions

Audition Strategies for the Non-Singing Job Seeker

A FB friend posted a link to this article on Forbes.com. The author is an HR professional, and sang opera on the side. She compares the two types of job search – the audition and the traditional interview – and recommends trying the singer strategy of preparing for the audition/interview, and then letting it go once you’re done. She quotes her teacher :


“You have no idea what they want.

They may have a conception of the role already. If they want Corn Flakes and you’re Raisin Bran, you’re not going to get the role, but that’s okay. Your job is not to try to figure out what they want. Go sing the best version of you that there is at this minute, and forget about everyone else.”


It’s a difficult lesson for singers to learn, but arguably even more difficult for the average job-seeker, who isn’t used to trying to cram three interviews into each day for a week while couch-surfing in NYC.


And it made me think: if we are better at framing this process in a positive way, what other ways might the singer/musician/artist mindset be beneficial to those seeking employment or hiring managers? More on that thread to come.

I am off to Glimmerglass today, for a few days of auditions and opera performances. It’s embarrassing that I’ve not yet been, but I’m very much looking forward to remedying that by day’s end!


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Road Map.

Road Map.

This article has been making the rounds lately – it’s a step-by-step walk-through of how to have an operatic career. Training, YAPS, small roles, larger roles. It’s a good, comprehensive article, and while I don’t agree with everything 100%, there’s a lot of truth and helpful advice here.

The fall audition season is almost over for most singers and companies. Do you have something lined up? Did you have a successful (artistically) and/or unsuccessful (employment) season?

If you don’t have a gig, what are your next steps? I’d propose three:

1. Strengthen. Ask for feedback. Address your weaknesses and take care of them, for realz.

2. Reflect. Why do you want this career? What are the specific things about it that you love? (For me, it was the collaborative and improvisatory aspects of the rehearsal room.) What things are difficult, and why? (For me, tying my sense of self so strongly to other people’s opinions – I am much more confident now that I’m not singing.)

3. Explore. If you only know of two different tracks towards a career in the arts (teaching and performing being the two most prevalent), explore what else is out there. Ask for informational interviews with folks whose jobs you want. Ask a metric ton of questions. Gather as much info as you can – it will help you make the decision on your own terms.

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Singers in the City.

It’s the beginning of December.

If you’re a singer, you’re likely in (or have recently been in) New York, at Nola or Opera America or any number of other venues. Your binder is organized and you’ve made sure that the accompanist can see the bass clef on the bottom stave clearly. Your résumés are proofed and copied and pristine. You have several versions of your rep list, for good days, ok days, and i-shoulda-maybe-cancelled days. You have an audition outfit that makes you feel sparkly and special. You have a pre-show ritual that allows you to perform (i.e. have a positive, expansive experience) rather than audition (i.e. be judged, which triggers the fight-or-flight response in even the best folks). You run into people you know and love, people you know and don’t love, people who are stronger at intimidating or distracting others in the hallway than at auditioning.

You also have ways in which you reward yourself for putting yourself out there, in the face of rejection, over and over and over again.

You’re looking for a job. Something that will pay you to do what you love. You’ve worked diligently, paid your dues. It’s time.

For some of you? It is, in fact, time! And you’ll wrap up the audition season with a contract or two, refreshed energy, renewed contacts…

For others? Talented, driven, dues-paying others? You could end up empty-handed.

This article is from the theater world, but it still applies. Consider this a gentle reminder that the whole process is mostly out of your hands. If you’re cool with that? I am your fan, and am in awe of your generosity, resilience and persistence.

If you’re not? Stay tuned, as we’ll have some more articles and profiles heading your way over the holidays and beyond!

If you’re interested in what I’ve been doing this fall, you can check out my colleague/friend/audition-tour-compadre’s writing here and here. And if you just need some inspiration? Check here and here and hereIMG_2965!

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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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On standby.

Tuesday is Travel Day!

Posting will be light for a while, as I’ll be on the road for our Annual Autumn Audition Extravaganza…over 500 auditions in eight cities across the country over the next four-and-a-half weeks. It’s an exciting and challenging time for us – we’re vetting repertoire choices as we’re listening to singers, trying to find the right mix for our 2013 season.

During this time, I’m always reminded of my own circuitous journey, that brought me to my seat on the other side of the audition table. I’m happy with where I am now, but I’d be lying if I didn’t tell you that it was a rough path getting here. I’m hoping to post some reflections, and a little bit of inspiration, during this year’s tour.

This Friday I’ll post a recap of the profiles we’ve seen thus far. And – if you have a story that you’d like to share, or want to nominate someone whose story you’d think would resonate with readers, please email me at indirectroutes@gmail.com.

If you’re auditioning this fall, please know that I am in awe of your courage and that I’m sending you good wishes from my side of the table. And if you’ve decided that this is your last audition season, or that your heart’s not really in it, or that you need to try something else but are too scared? Well, I hope you’ll check back for a little bit of support and some real-life examples.

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Killing Dreams


We’ve entered a very specific part of my yearly work cycle. Sure, we’re prepping for the audition tour – finalizing flights and hotels, confirming appointments with director and conductor candidates – but the majority of those things are already completed, thanks to our Company Manager from the summer, Roxanna.


The harder part? Application screenings.


We receive over 1,000 applications each fall for our two tiers of performers: the Filene Young Artist tier will be those singers who have established themselves as ready for a mainstage freelance career, and when we find them we’ll program a season especially for them – to showcase their unique strengths. The Studio tier will be folks who are in undergrad or are first years masters students who demonstrate talent and success in their training up to this point, but who may not have had the opportunity to hustle through a professional production period or figure out what their career landscape might look like for the next 5-10 years.


We don’t ask for recordings anymore, as the technology allows for enough sweetening of the sound to make them marginally helpful at best, truly misleading at worst. Both tiers submit applications and résumés, with the Studio tier needing to fill out some very basic essay questions.


The deadlines for Seattle, San Francisco, and New York City passed earlier this week. So I’ve been spending some quality time with those Studio applications and résumés. It’s the most difficult time of year for me – how do I weigh the potential of a senior in an undergraduate program that maybe doesn’t have a mainstage production every year against a singer who didn’t/couldn’t finish their undergrad but has cobbled together some small roles at tiny regional companies? And, having been a singer myself who sent in my applications and was rejected, my heart gets soft at this time of year, wanting to extend those audition offers to as many people as I can… but sadly, the math simply doesn’t work that way. There’s aren’t enough hours, so I have to eliminate folks from the running, before I even hear a note.


This whole thing weighs pretty heavy on me, and I tend to whine a bit on Facebook about it. A pal – one with whom I used to sing – weighed in and said:


“When one door closes, another door opens. Sometimes we spend way too much time knocking on doors that turned out to be the wrong ones. I should add that my own wrong doors have been closed many times in the past by people just like you and I’m still your friend and I’m telling you it was a GOOD THING! I’m grateful I didn’t go down that path now that I’m here looking back. So, since I can’t go back and thank all those people cause that would just be weird, I’ll thank you on their behalf. It’s the right thing to do.”



It made me feel better. In hindsight, my own experiences – painful as they were -helped me to distill and clarify exactly what it was I wanted to do. And while I hateHatehate spreading bad karma around, maybe I’ll try to reframe this part of the year…not as spreading bad karma, but as gently closing some doors so that people can notice the open ones…


I’ll be back tomorrow with a new Profile Phriday post – I hope you’ll check back!

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