written by Chelsea Nicole Smith, Vocal Pedagogue and Piano Instructor at Metro Music Makers
Happy New Year, friends… or should I say, Happy Audition Season! At this point in the year, auditions have either just happened or are on the verge of happening. For many parents and students in my studio, auditioning can be an intimidating thing, especially if they are “first timing” it. Fortunately, this is not my first time in the audition/judging arena, so I am excited to share an overview of the process and some of my secrets for elementary-age auditions with you.
- Picking out the music – The biggest difficulty for elementary students is finding the right song. Look for and choose musical theater material that is lyrically appropriate, age appropriate and musically compatible with the your vocal ability. I would not suggest anything other than a Disney or Kid’s Musical theater song. Mainstream music is generally not going to be musically advanced enough to show off a little singer’s abilities, and it can also lyrically distract from the innocence of the child. Take it from this judge: bring me music that is entertaining, fun and musically advanced, and I will definitely take notice.
- Memory – You MUST have your music memorized. If you do not have it memorized, a director may not trust you to have your music memorized for the performance. You want to do everything you can to set yourself apart from everyone else.
- Accompaniment – There are often karaoke tracks available for pieces on iTunes to use as accompaniment. However, if you have the option to use an accompanist, do it. When printing the music for your accompanist, tape them back to back in a binder. Do not put the music into a slip cover; the glare from any light will make the music unreadable. Other than that, be reminded to greet the accompanist and say THANK YOU at the end. Often, accompanists will be judges you didn’t know were judging you!
- Resources – I specifically like the Kid’s Theater Anthology and regularly choose songs from it for auditions. Sometimes the Teen’s version has songs that fit a student as well. This particular book series includes a 16-bar cut that can be used if an audition is supposed to be short. I also have picked from the list at www.musicaltheaterresources.com when looking for audition music. Another beneficial website is www.mtishows.com. This particular website features excerpts from Jr. musicals of scripts and solos. These excerpts are fantastic for practicing and picking out which song to sing if you know the musical you are auditioning for.
Oh, yes, there is a dress code… Always dress to the character you are auditioning for. You want the director to see that you fit the part without having to imagine it. For girls, I would suggest a dress that is knee length and if it is slightly shorter make sure to wear tights. If you are auditioning to play a boy, wear dress pants. Girls, keep your hair out of your face so that your adjudicator can see your facial expressions. For boys, wear dress pants and a nice shirt. If your hair is long, find a way to keep it out of your face as well.
Sometimes directors will ask for monologues or dance numbers. Monologues are acting scripts that a student performs on their own. These are to be memorized and acted out. For any dance numbers, come prepared with a change of clothes and appropriate flats or shoes for dancing.
- Act your face off! Do NOT be afraid of incorporating a routine or staged act to go along with your song. Directors want to see your personality. Be ALL in!
- Talk to your adjudicators. Your judge is a person too. Don’t be afraid to enjoy the audition and get to know who you’re going to be learning from.
- The day of an audition, have specific things you do to prepare. I suggest to review the beginning of each piece you are presenting, go over what clothes you need, drink a calming drink, grab a bag of crackers and water, and be assured that it will go well.
- Make a checklist of everything you need for an audition so that you won’t be anxious about forgetting anything. Save this list and print it every time you have an audition.
- Try a calming drink. Peppermint tea and ginger tea are both good for your voice and calm your stomach, so any jitters you might have will be calmed by one of these.
- Bring a supporter. When I was auditioning for well-known opera companies, I would convince my mother to take the trip with me. Her support and encouragement always put my mind at ease, and if I ever missed something, she was quick to help me take care it.
Whew! It’s a lot, but this information will set you on the right path to a successful audition. I can’t wait to hear about all the fun you have auditioning and being yourselves.
Good Luck, break a leg, and toi toi toi to all of you!!
Chelsea Nicole Smith
M.M., Georgia State University
B.M.E., Evangel University
*As you may have noticed, this blog was specifically written for the elementary student. If you need information as a high school student, I will post a follow-up to this series with that information in it soon. Also, feel free to contact me with any other logistical questions you might have, and check out my website for ideas on other things such as resumes and headshots.