Perform, perform, perform!
One of the biggest audition mistakes is not performing your piece enough before the big day. It’s not enough to work on the difficult bits and hope all goes well. You need to train yourself to get through the whole piece WITHOUT STOPPING.
So how can you accomplish this? In your lesson, ask your teacher if you can do a “mock audition,” and play or sing through your piece non-stop. Your teacher can then offer feedback. Also perform for your friends and family...you can even put on a mini-recital for them! Check and see if your town or school offers showcases for local talent and sign up to perform. The more comfortable you are with playing or singing your piece for others, the easier it will be to do it in front of a panel.
Also, make sure you have given yourself sufficient TIME to learn your piece, and you know it backwards and forwards. Make sure you feel good performing it even on your worst day!
Clothes make the gig!
Believe it or not, appearance is a key component of an audition. You want to present yourself as a professional, and you don’t want to give anyone the wrong impression. What you decide to wear, of course, can depend on what you’re auditioning for, but in general it’s best to wear “dressy” clothes. No need to show up in a ballgown or tux though!
Here’s how attire rules for auditions most often work:
For women: Wear a nice dress in a solid color, no flashy prints. Its length should be at least below fingertip, and have no spaghetti straps or low necklines. In addition, you should also wear nylons and comfortable, neutral shoes. Jewelry is fine, but don’t wear anything that might distract from your performance! Hair should be neat and off the face, and makeup should be conservative (ie, no black lipstick).
For men: Wear khakis/pants (NO jeans), a sport jacket or blazer, and a button down shirt. In higher-level auditions, you may wear a business suit and tie. Wear conservative and comfortable shoes (NO sneakers) and keep facial hair well-groomed.
For both: Generally, it’s safest to cover up any visible tattoos. If you’re a singer, wear contacts instead of glasses. However, instrumentalists usually can wear glasses if needed.
Before you audition, research the company and/or venue to find out how you might want to present yourself. For example, if you’re auditioning for a high-end opera house or orchestra, you want to err on the side of formality. If you’re trying out for a spot at your local club, the environment will probably be more relaxed and you can be more flexible in your outfit choice.
Have your materials ready!
If there will be a pianist at the audition who is there to accompany you, make sure you:
1) Bring a copy of your music for him or her in a 3-ring binder! This is the easiest setup, since pianists have to turn pages while playing.
2) The music in this binder should be CLEAN and LEGIBLE. The only marks that should be on there are cuts or notable tempo changes. No personal notes or self-reminders!
3) Make sure the music is IN ORDER. If you’re singing multiple pieces, it’s helpful to have binder tabs in between them. Also, ONLY put pieces into the pianist’s binder that you are TOTALLY READY to perform!
4) Be nice to the pianist! This seems like a no-brainer, but I’ve heard some horror stories of performers being rude to the person who’s accompanying them. You never know, the pianist playing the audition may have a say in hiring you!
Also bring a few copies of your headshot and resume. The panel usually has received them before the audition, but have some copies for them just in case they forget. It shows you are prepared! Review any communication you’ve received prior to the audition to see if you are asked to bring anything else.
As well as your talent, you want to demonstrate that you are pleasant and easy to work with. When the panel greets you, make eye contact and smile! You don’t have to have a conversation, but be polite and friendly.
Make sure you announce your name and the name of your piece clearly and slowly. Again, this is something you can practice for your teachers and/or in your “mini-recital.” Keep your gaze up and out when announcing.
After you finish, a panel will sometimes ask you questions. This may come as a surprise, but keep that same polite demeanor you walked in with and answer to the best of your ability. Generally, they’ll give you some information about the company, and there will be a clear indicator when you’re set to go. Thank them briefly and with a smile, and thank the pianist while retrieving your music. Now go and celebrate for giving it your best shot!