How can you accelerate the speed, accuracy, and quality of learning songs for performance situations?

On this blog I share my 'learning adventures' as I continue to improve my performance as a singer.

I share web resources I find helpful, and reflect on my experience using various technologies and ideas.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

How do you prepare for a musical audition?

How do you prepare for an audition? What song do you choose? What happens at an audition?

Last year, I participated in a workshop for Contemporary Singing lead by Irene Bartlett. Irene is Jazz and Contemporary Voice Teacher at the Conservatorium of Music at Griffith University, Brisbane, Australia. She was also a coach at the New Zealand National Singing School in 2009. The NZ Singing School is a summer residential school held in our mid-summer, January. http://www.singingschool.org.nz/

There were 20 singers in my three-day workshop, held at Unitec Institute of Technology. We each had the opportunity to receive a 'master-class' style coaching for a song we were learning. I chose "I'm Martin Guerre" - a dramatic song from Boublil and Schonberg's "Martin Guerre". (This team created the well-known modern opera "Les Miserables".)

Each singer had ten minutes of workshop time to gain maximum advantage from the master-coach, Irene. I launched into my song. The song begins with my singing 28 bars, nearly all the same pitch and rhythm. Just as I was about to launch into the exciting, drammatic, melodious part, Irene stopped me! And began my coaching.

Valuable coaching ensued, but I could have gained much more from the coach if I had known the secrets of preparing for an audition. Whilst this was more of a master-class than an audition, I think there are some useful lessons that apply regarding how to prepare for an audition.

Subsequently, I bought a variety of music resources from an an Aladdin's Cave for musicians, Piano Traders, in Mt Eden, Auckland....

One book I acquired has some relevance to the task of auditioning:

Pamela S. Phillips. (2003). Singing For Dummies. New York: Wiley. Retrieved February 18, 2009, from http://www.dummies.com/store/product/Singing-For-Dummies.productCd-0764524755.html.

Chapter 21 presents 14 pages of advice on auditioning for a song for music theatre. The chapter covers topics including:
  • Get some tips on musical theatre
  • Select a song that demonstrates variety
  • Dramatise your lyrics
  • Avoid the wrong song (the mistake I made)
  • Adjust the key if you need to (yes: I transposed down 3 semitones that using Smartscore - to the horror of my accompanist)
  • Make a 16-bar cut. That is, choose a small part of the song that shows you at your best ... you may be given no further time than 16-bars! The main mistake I made.
  • Work your songs with an accompanist
  • Know how to work with the audition pianist
Extra for scholars: bibliographic management
For scholars and researchers, if you were impressed by my complete APA referencing for the Phillips (2003) book, let me share my latest productivity aid. I have just installed the Zotero citation and bibliographic reference management system. Zotero heps me manage all the web sites I visit, local .pdf documents, and off-line print media in one database reference system.

When I need to cite a reference, I conveniently drag and drop from Zotero into a document, such as my blog (as above) or a text document. Zotero is open source (free!) software, and runs as an add-on to my Firefox browser. See: http://www.zotero.org/

Top image: Peter Mellalieu sings "I'm Martin Guerre" at NZ Aria Competition, Rotorua, October 2008.

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