This past Saturday, Omaha’s Rose Theater held auditions for the musical Beauty and the Beast. Many of OSMD’s voice and musical theater students went to the open audition, and our instructor Madison Hoge was on hand to provide support. Auditions happen throughout the year, but particularly in the spring ahead of summer activities. If you or your children are thinking of attending band camps or music festivals, an audition is often a required part of applications. But what if you’ve never auditioned before? It can seem like a daunting task, but this brief outline for the approach and expectations should provide a framework to reduce the stress of an audition.
Start early. Taking 6 weeks to two months to prepare is ideal, but sometimes there is only one month (or less!) between the date of posting, and audition date.
Know the expectations. What pieces are they requiring? Are you allowed to choose your own piece or pieces? If so, decide and cement your repertoire as soon as you can! Gather all of your music or materials in one place, and organize it in a binder with either hole-punches or clear sleeves. Put the date in the calendar, and any subsequent deadlines (do they need to receive an application by a certain date? Are you required to send a deposit to secure your audition time? Make sure you know these dates as well!)
Have a Plan. How many pieces do you need to know, and how much time do you have to prepare? Printing off an empty calendar is a helpful way to visualize how to delegate your lessons and practice time. Rather than approaching learning a single piece each week, a student will often have to juggle learning many more different pieces, or excerpts from larger works, in a shorter amount of time than regular lessons would accommodate. One way to approach preparation is to use the first week to study all of the pieces, and to casually understand of the kind of work needed. Each day, two or three pieces can be “wood-shedded” (a very technical music term, we swear)—where fine details are hashed out with great focus. Just like any other large long-term project, breaking down the audition material into manageable chunks keeps a student from getting overwhelmed. Make a checklist for each day of practice and spend a set amount of time on each area of difficulty.
Practice Performance. About two weeks out from an audition, a student will want to be able to “perform” their pieces all the way through, without stopping for mistakes, for their teacher. Even better, if the student can arrange a time to “audition” for family members or friends, the intimidation of auditioning for strangers becomes less and less. By taking the time to work on the details in order to spend a few lessons in “mock” auditions, the instructor can isolate and work on issues that might only become apparent in performance. Oftentimes, despite many hours of hard work, things will go wrong in a run-through that a musician cannot account for. Only by going through the motions as if to audition, can these little surprise wrinkles be ironed out.
Is it a taped audition? Make a time deadline to have a recording completed. It helps to record one’s own “performance” practice a week or so before the recording date and listen back. Listening calmly and objectively, take notes on issues that come up. Before re-recording, the student should take a moment to go over any problem areas and mentally rewrite their approach.
On the day, or that block of days, that have been set aside to record, a student should run through the audition list only a few times, no matter how the sessions went. It’s very easy to want to keep going until there is a perfect take—but for everyone’s peace of mind, it is best to have a small pool of recordings to choose the best one from.
On the Day of the Audition: be calm and flexible. Wear nice but comfortable clothing. If a musical theater audition requires a dance, make sure you have the appropriate apparel and shoes in a bag. Arrive at the audition location at the recommended time, or 15-30minutes before your appointment. You might be assigned a private room to warm-up in, a pianist to spend some time with, or be kept in a large waiting room with many other applicants. Now is the time to focus on your own work, and ignore all of the distractions. You have worked as hard as you can and prepared to the best of your abilities. When you get into the audition room, you will be instructed to introduce yourself and your music, but sometimes not. Music auditions in particular will sometimes be held behind a screen, so that the audition panel cannot see the performers and make judgments based on appearance. Take a few breaths, remember what you’re doing, and remember to make it fun—you’re taking the audition because you LOVE what you do.
As we say in the theater: break a leg! Toi, toi, toi!
If you are interested in taking musical theater classes, check out our website for more information! https://www.omahaschoolofmusicanddance.com/musical-theater-omaha-ne/