Top Tips for singing auditions

Singing auditions can be a daunting prospect, even for the seasoned professional singer. Choosing what to sing and wear are always somewhere on the singer's 'worry list!'

Regardless of whether the audition being applied for is for a competition or a part in a show, there are several things that the singer can do to ensure that their performance is as stress-free as possible.

Those of you who have never attended an audition before need to be aware that you can be waiting for several hours before it is your turn to perform. This in itself can be stressful so it is important to prepare yourself for a long day! Take a bottle of water to ensure you are well hydrated throughout your wait.

Choosing Songs

There is little point singing a new song or one that you are unsure of. Your performance will lack conviction and under stress you may forget the words! Any song used for audition purposes should be one that you have memorised and feel confident singing under any circumstances, including unaccompanied.

Choose material that is suitable for your voice and the type of audition you are attending. In some cases you will only get to sing part of a song so avoid tracks with long instrumental introductions, if possible get an arranger to help you organise the songs into a suitable format for audition performance.

Be aware that many auditions now require the singer to perform unaccompanied. This means that there will be no music to aid you with the timing and pitching the song to the right key for your voice. Any mistakes the singer makes become glaringly obvious and in a large room the singer will need to be competent at projecting their voice so that they can be heard if no amplification is provided.

When auditioning for a theatrical show the musical director or producer may supply a list of appropriate songs. Always choose songs you know well that display your vocal range and versatility. If a list is not supplied and you are aiming for a particular part in the show, unless instructed otherwise, avoid singing songs from the show itself, instead choose material from shows of a similar style and caliber that reflect your capabilities.

What to Wear

There are no strict rules, but you may be waiting around for hours before you perform, so it is advisable to wear a comfy outfit and keep your audition costume clean and safe in a cover then change at the venue. Trainers are out unless you are auditioning for pop/dance/rap where they are considered acceptable footwear. High heels should be avoided unless you can walk and move gracefully in them.

The clothes you wear should not interfere with your ability to sing. Constricting or tight outfits will prevent the singer from breathing and projecting effectively so a balance between looking good and being comfortable has to be found.

When the audition requires dance skills as well as singing ability, it is wise to wear clothes that allow freedom of movement like lycra leotards and dance shoes, which should be packed as part of your audition kit in case you are asked to do a separate audition for the choreographer.


Unless you are attending an audition that requires or encourages you to play a musical instrument, avoid accompanying yourself. Playing an instrument will NOT enhance your performance, it prevents the singer from concentrating on the voice and moving fluidly. Of course, there are always exceptions to this, but unless otherwise stated those running the audition want to know how well you SING, not how well you PLAY!

The exceptions to this are Band Auditions, Songwriting and Talent Competitions in which case proficiency in singing, songwriting and playing an instrument are assets that the performer will need to acquire.

Cameras, Mic's & Other Equipment

When auditioning for television or film the singer should be aware that there are certain things they are expected to know.

A spot will be marked that provides those running the auditions with the optimum camera views. The singer has to remain within the parameters that are provided. In most cases a stage hand will direct you to the spot, but if unsure, ask!

Hand held and trolly cameras will move around the singer during the performance, even closing in right next you. Be prepared for this and don't let it put you off!

Work to the camera. The camera that is active will show a small light, look into the camera but don't try to follow the cameras ALL the time, concentrate on your performance and use the camera when it is suitable, i.e., if the camera to the left is filming, turn slightly and look into it during a pertinent passage in the song. Remember the auditioners want to view you from all angles, they need to see that you can use the camera effectively without overdoing it or allowing filming to affect your performance.

Singers are often required to perform their audition a cappella, without accompaniment or the aid of amplification so do not be surprised if required to do so and have suitable songs prepared. When used, microphones can be placed on a stand, hand held, attached to your costume or provided as a head set. 

If used, Stage Monitors are usually placed at the front or side of the stage so that the performer can hear themselves. Sing a quick scale into the mic or speak a few words to make sure they are at the correct level, any adjustments will need to be made BEFORE you start your audition, most of the time the levels will have been preset but if you are aware that your voice is exceptionally quiet or powerful, it's worth warning the engineer beforehand. 

The singer may be placed behind a screen or in a separate area from the accompanist. In this case a monitor is essential for the performer to hear the accompaniment. If you are unable to hear the music or your vocals - STOP and tell the stage crew immediately.

 Learn how to use a microphone effectively before attending an audition which requires it's use!

Be Prepared

Competition will be fierce and you should expect there to be an extremely high standard of performers. Even if this is not the case, you should be prepared to sing and perform to the  very best of your ability. This includes knowing your songs, having sheet music or backing track in the correct key for your voice and being capable of performing in front of strangers under unusual and stressful conditions.

The day before your audition should be spent preparing everything you need for the day. Write a check list and pack all the items you intend to take with you, including a large bottle of water, snack or light lunch (nothing too heavy and try to avoid eating before you sing), sheet music, backing tracks, costume, make up, hair brush, hair spray, spare cash and something to read while you wait. If possible take a cassette or digital recorder to record your audition for later review. 

When using audition tracks on cassette tape, line up the track so that it is ready to play before you leave. Ensure that the cassette is clearly marked with your name. If using sheet music mark it with your name and make sure there are enough copies for all the accompanists. In most cases the music for a pianist is adequate, but for band auditions full orchestrations may be required. If you have an opportunity to discuss your music with the accompanist before you are due to audition, take it! This saves time and prevents mistakes occurring at the audition.

At the Audition

Once you have arrived at the venue check in with the organiser immediately. Find out who is auditioning ahead of you and approximately how long it will be before you are required to perform.

If you are going to be waiting for a long while, don't spend the whole time singing!! Wait until an hour before you are due to audition, then change into your costume, touch up your make up/hair and do your vocal warm up exercises.

10 Top Tips for Looking Confident:

There are ways of appearing confident, even if you feel like a bag of nerves!

1. Do a few relaxation exercises before you are required on stage. Take a couple of deep breaths and exhale slowly when you are called to calm yourself before proceeding into the audition room.

2. Walk gracefully or stride across the room/stage with purpose, keep your head up and look where you are going.

3. Wear clothing that is comfortable and enhances your appearance.

4. If an accompanist is provided, take time to greet them before starting and thank them after your performance (even if they don't play the tune well!).

5. Face forwards and look at (or slightly above) the audience/judges/examiners who will indicate when they want you to start and stop you when they have heard enough.

6. When you are ready to start your audition, say hello to the auditioners and provide them with a brief introduction to the song you are about to perform.

7. Concentrate on the music and your performance. Do your best.

8. Don't fluster or stop if you make a mistake, continue as if nothing happened.

9. Be Yourself

10. Smile!

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