Rejection makes anyone feel bad, makes one ask “what’s wrong with me?”… But it’s not actually rejection. Life is a jigsaw puzzle and the no just means this isn’t the best fit. Right now, at this moment in time. Who’s to say that next week you don’t get a job that is the breakthrough of your career? If you got the first job you couldn’t say yes to the second, the better, the best one! Think of it like dating. You don’t marry the first person you kiss. You don’t go on a 2nd date sometimes. Getting a job, a manager, it’s the same. And YOU can be doing the choosing.
That being said… if you keep getting a “No”, check your skills and ask what needs to be improved? Am I going for everything regardless if it’s appropriate for me? Are my songs appropriate to the part, the show, the band I am auditioning for? Am I prepared – rehearsal is KEY. If you’re worried about remembering lyrics, then you can’t be present and expressive. Don’t leave an audition only with I did “ok”, “so-so” or “great!” Break it down… learn, what needs to be improved specifically? Did you rush, communicate with the pianist or not? Were you just loud? Get specific so you can rehearse the adjustments. Singing isn’t good or bad. It’s fun or it’s not.
What makes you choose the song you are singing – Lyrics?, Melody? If it’s for showing off your range, pick another song. Does the story say something about who you are? How you want to show up in the room. Now for Broadway the story may be perfect for the role you’re going for, then that’s a great match! If you’re singing the most up to date hit, change it. First because EVERYONE and their toy poodle will sing that song and whomever you are auditioning for will be ready to BAN it from the room. Unless you do the most unique different stylized version of it and it rocks. Then definitely do it!
Auditions are not about hitting the Eb, they are about sharing your fantastic personality. Because what they are hiring is not your vocal skills, its YOU. They have to decide, can this person take direction? Do we want to hang out with them for a year during rehearsals? Do we like their personality? If it’s for back ground singing, a pop group or a Broadway show. It’s about you being YOU. The most genuine, free and talented you you.
So, song selection is key – for your personality, best for your range and vibe and that fits what you’re auditioning for. Working your skills so you are rocking that song in the pocket, making it your own. We’ve all heard the person that originally sang the song and don’t need to hear “the song”, we need to hear how you express yourself using that song. So how can you switch up the groove, emphasis a different moment, change the melody in a subtle way. And this all requires REHEARSAL! Even if it’s a B’way audition, you need to do all of that, then come back to the melody with some flexibility, so it has breathing room and you are expressing yourself within the original melody you are required not to change.
I used to audition for EVERYTHING with the same song for a while. Didn’t matter what I went for, I always sang ‘If Only You Knew’ because I sang the shit out of it (I knew that song inside and out) and because the lyrics say, “If only you knew, how much I love you” over and over again. And you know what, that’s what I was saying to the people in the room “I love you!” and they felt it & they loved me right back. I got call backs and bookings every time. It was the right song, at the right time, it was a good fit.
Last minute audition. Sing something you know SOoooo well. They don’t know if you’ve sung it a billion times or just this once. You just want to go in feeling solid so you can shine.
Auditions are also strange creatures. You’ve got to do 50 before you don’t feel totally weird and overly amp’d up walking into a bare room with a few strangers who may or may not pay attention to you while you sing 16, 32 or 64 bars of a song and leave. Over time, the oddness of it won’t bug you, you can walk in with all your personality and share a little special sparkle for a few minutes and leave. Like floating around a party and just having a great conversation with a couple people for a minute and leaving, never to see them again. Good thing to practice in preparation for auditioning eh?
And remember what the very talented and brilliant MD Boko Suzuki said… keep auditioning. Boko cast someone for a national tour of Rent on his 12th audition!
And here’s a little history lesson, a fable if you will, although it’s autobiographical and since it’s all in hindsight we can see truth in it: I was up for a the original Broadway role of Eponine in Les Miserables. I was 17 years old. I made it to the final cut. But the director refused to see me. He told the casting agent not to bring me to the final audition. They told him they favored me and really thought he should see me. He said, “No, she’s too young. I will break her.” I was crushed. At 17 and Broadway was my big dream. A few months later I made final cut for Carrie in the West End. It was between me and a British actor. I was again told I was the favored actor. But when Barbara Cooke was cast as Carrie’s mother, the role of Carrie went to the British girl because by contract rules, the leads had to alternate British/American. So… no Carrie for me.
At the time I was so upset, but it was just not to be. What if the director saved my life. What if he is that rough and I was so green. I could have been chewed up and spit out. I didn’t follow the path of musical theatre, I continued songwriting, became a teacher just three years later and if you’re reading this you know what a deep and rewarding journey that has been! So it’s not bad I didn’t get those roles. It just wasn’t meant for me. Then. B’way is still going strong and who knows, maybe in the second 41 years of my life I’ll be a part of it.
ps. No one from that final call was cast as Eponine, he brought the woman who played her in the West End to play the part on B’way and Carrie lasted 10 days.
SO! Work your skills – get your vocals on point, learn how to make a song your own, bring your personality and style to the moment. Work with musicians so you know how to silently communicate with an accompanist or band mate. Get material that is fresh and unique and suits you and your tastes. Research and rehearse! Learn skills so it can be more fun! Then get out there! Get out of class and into the world.
Best to each of you!