There are times in our musical or performing lives when we have to audition to get the parts/places or opportunities we would like. It can be a bit of a minefield and for some of us, it can be so nerve-wracking that we avoid auditions altogether. What is it about auditions that makes them so scary? Is the experience we see on X-Factor typical of all auditions?
I have written some examples of the approaches people have to auditions. Some are comic but I then pick out some key powerful tips at the end of the article.
- The Gung Ho Auditioner
Just be Gung Ho about the whole experience and tell yourself it is like a lottery. There may be dozens of people going for the part and the odds are large. Pick the audition piece that you love because you don’t know what they are looking for and maybe the audition panel don’t know either. Don’t worry about what the panel have asked for in their audition criteria. Just go out there and give it your best shot and say F*** It if you are not successful.
- The Forensic Auditioner
As a forensic, you believe that you can eliminate any possibility of chance in the audition process. You find out exactly what the audition is for. You ring the institution regularly before the audition and get as much information as you can. You find out intimate details of the part and prepare yourself specifically for what is required. You look carefully at what you could use as an audition piece and pick something which will be clever and 100% suitable for the audition panel. You make sure that your audition piece is EXACTLY what they are looking for. You take time to find out about the panel members and their background and prepare questions for them on the off-chance that you will have an opportunity to ask them. Taking great care to please the panel with what you are performing is crucial for you. The adage, ‘Remember that the panel are the only official judges of your true talent.’stays with you. If they reject you, it is because you are not good enough in any way. If you are not successful, you put your energies into finding out WHY you were not successful to avoid facing disappointment. You take create care to only apply for other opportunities once you have fully resolved WHY this occasion was not successful. It is essential that you do not move forward until you know every reason they rejected you. You do not pass go, you do not collect £200.
- The Overview Auditioner
You take the time to find out who you are and what it is that you do. What music or performance material do you like to perform – is the key question for you? What really motivates you with your music and performing is at the centre of your approach. You know why you do music and you only do what makes you happy.
Looking at a range of different audition options and starting to build a diary of which ones you might like to go to is a key principle. You like to build a plan of different directions and options you might like to go in. You realise that you could book a series of different auditions with different courses/venues/possibilities so the audition is only one option among many. Only going to the auditions which you feel are right for you, or could be right for you is the best approach. By putting your art first and working on talking about what you do and why you do it is key. You pick your audition piece because you feel confident performing it and it roughly fits the audition requirements. Naturally you have questions ready for the audition panel.
- The Random Auditioner
One of the best ways to avoid disappointment is to only pick random things to audition for. You live your life in this way. As long as you have a funny story to tell about your audition, then it will be ok afterwards. If you find something which you do not care about, then go for it! It will be a laugh. If you find a good solid 100% appropriate opportunity to go for, avoid it like the plague. Or if you feel it would be stupid to avoid such a good opportunity, then you do not take it seriously. You don’t look at the audition requirements and you certainly do not prepare properly. Having an excuse for why you were not good enough is important. If on the off chance you have prepared, then you will turn up late because this gives you yet another excuse for why you didn’t get the part. You may not know you are keen on self-sabotage. Do make sure that the part has no value. If it has no real value to you, then how can you be disappointed if you fail? If you do not get the part and yet secretly, you wanted it, start to run the opportunity down to your friends saying, ‘The part was rubbish anyway’
So which one did you identify best with? If you, like me, found that there were various parts you resonated with from all 4 approaches, then hopefully it will give you a clearer idea of what you really want to do.
Tips from my 4 approaches:
Tips from the Gung Ho Auditioner
1. Know that auditions are a little bit of a lottery. So book a number of auditions to get experiences and maximise your opportunities. Know that auditions are not the only way to get work.
2. Pick music or audition pieces that you love but do make sure that this will be appropriate for the part or opportunity for which you are auditioning. Check the requirements.
3. Saying F*** it to yourself after the audition can be quite a powerful thing. Try it, you may like it and it may help you relieve tension! It will also help you prepare for the next part. If you fall off a horse, get straight back on.
Tips from the Forensic Auditioner
4. Finding out exactly what you are auditioning for is important. Do you actually want it? Do not waste time auditioning for things you do not want or will not help you progress to where you want to go.
5. Finding an appropriate audition piece is important but if you have to prepare something which is totally outside your area, then this could be a sign that the part may not be right for you.
6. Finding out about the interview panelists is ok but not worth spending huge amounts of time over. Time spent practicing and finding other future auditions and opportunities is valuable.
7. Having a few good questions is valuable but there is no need to ask questions for the sake of it.
8. Rejection is nothing personal. Understanding what the panel was really looking for is something you may never know. If you can get feedback and you want it, get feedback. If not, just ask yourself, ‘What did I learn from this experience?’ and move on.
9. Dissecting an experience in great detail is rarely worth it and can be demotivating. Again, just find out what you needed to learn and then find the next opportunity and go for that.
Tips from the Overview Auditioner.
10. Understanding who we are is indeed a valuable thing. Knowing what we want our art to say and how we want to say it is part of the process. Answer the question, ‘Why do I like what I do? and what does it mean to me?’
11. Building a plan which includes a number of different approaches is really important. Centring any plan around ONE audition is not a good plan. You need to learn from auditions and you’ll need experience, unless you are Billy Elliot.
12. Know the real reasons why you are going for a particular audition. It is ok NOT to audition and say no to some opportunities. Ask yourself, ‘Is this right for me?’
Tips from the Random Auditioner
13. It is ok to be disappointed. Some of us have elaborate plans to avoid even the possibility of disappointment. Remember it is ok to go for something and not get it and then say, ‘I was gutted about not getting it’ It is ok to be upset. We are upset because we care. There are only two outcomes to a bad experience: Firstly, that we find out more information about how to be more successful next time about a specific opportunity and/or secondly, we have more idea about other opportunities now.
14. Always prepare what you need. Stay focused for an audition and what you need to be able to demonstrate. If you find yourself being distracted ask yourself, ‘Why do I want this? What does it mean for me?’ Then make a cup of tea and get back to preparing.
15. Be early for auditions and plan your transport accordingly. If you find yourself stalling or procrastinating, ask yourself, ‘Why do I want this? What does it mean for me?’
Is X Factor typical of all auditions? I don’t think so. The audition process is often private and a true process to find the best. X-Factor is about entertainment for people at home. All about sensationalism whether it hurts people or exploits them. It is there to sell advertising.
So, what will you audition for and why?
You may also like to read about how to avoid the top ten musical mistakes people make in my free E-Book. Click here to download it now.
Read more top tips and structured approaches for building confidence as a performer in How to become a confident performer.