Updating your audition book: The 5 C’s for Choosing an Audition Song

I think I do a pretty good job at choosing audition songs. In fact, it might be one of my superpowers. I like finding pieces that bring things out in people, not only things I knew were there but things I merely suspected were there, and maybe even things I had NO IDEA where there. But I’m always looking for new points of view, and I found one in this article by Catherine Walker, who is on the music faculty at the famous University of Michigan-Ann Arbor (one of the top music and MT programs in the country) and at the Songbook Academy. (This is a program that I wish had existed when I was in high school – but who am I kidding? My parents would never have let me go!)

Ms. Walker breaks down choosing an audition song into 5 steps, all of which begin with the letter “C”:

  1. Connection – how can you relate/connect to this song? Do you want to sing it or do you feel like you have to sing it? Sometimes, we have to sing things because we’re assigned them. And then we have to find a way to connect to them – but if that’s not the case, and you don’t have a grade or a paycheck contingent upon learning the song, examine whether or not you really need to sing this song or if another song would be better for you, especially if you’re using it for an audition. There are a lot of songs in the world, and there is no need to sing something that you can’t relate to.
  2. Correct – if you are 17 years old, you really should not be singing a lyric like, “Then glance in the mirror and who do I see – a middle aged woman inhabiting me” (my apologies to the student to whom I gave that song in 2013, but it was on the solo-ensemble list and it fit her voice, if not her demographic). And by the same token, a 42 year old woman shouldn’t be singing “a girl of 17” in Patience. No matter how good you look for your age. Not that I’m talking about anyone specifically. Of course not.
  3. Creative – If the song you’re choosing is one that is associated with a specific artist, it might not be the best possible choice for you. Although you could be really creative and take it in a completely different direction. I think that’s a great idea, but not necessarily for an audition, because you don’t know how it will be received. Better to choose something that suits you that you can make your own without inviting comparisons. This can also apply to the song that everyone is singing this season.
  4. Challenge – Does this song make you grow? Great! Will you achieve that growth by the time the audition comes around so that you can rely on it and just sing and tell a story without having to place every note just so? Great! Do it. But if it’s not something you can do consistently, don’t use it. Don’t assume the audition panel will see your potential.
  5. Contrast – We can think about ballad/uptempo, belt/legit, contemporary/Golden Age, standard/rock, English/Italian, etc., but how much deeper can you go? Funny/serious, major/minor, what other variety can you show?

These are my thoughts on Ms. Walker’s post on Getacceptd.com. What are your thoughts?

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Published by Mezzoid Voice Studio

Christine Thomas-O'Meally, a mezzo soprano and voice teacher currently based in the Baltimore-DC area, has performed everything from the motets of J.S. Bach to the melodies of Irving Berlin to the minimalism of Philip Glass. As an opera singer and actress, she has appeared with companies such as Charm City Players, Spotlighters Theatre, Chicago Opera Theater, Opera Theater of Northern Virginia, Opera North, the Washington Savoyards, In Tandem Theatre, Windfall Theater, The Young Victorian Theater of Baltimore, and Skylight Opera Theatre. She created the role of The Woman in Red in Dominick Argento’s Dream of Valentino in its world premiere with the Washington Opera and Mary Pickersgill in O'er the Ramparts at its world premiere during the Bicentennial of Battle of Baltimore at the Community College of Baltimore County. Other roles include Mrs. Paroo in Music Man, Mother Abbess in Sound of Music, Dorabella in Cosi Fan Tutte, Marcellina in Le Nozze di Figaro, both Hansel and the Witch in Hansel & Gretel, and many roles in Gilbert & Sullivan operettas. Her performance as the Housekeeper in Man of La Mancha was honored with a WATCH award nomination. Ms. Thomas-O'Meally received an M.M. in vocal performance from the Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore. She regularly attends master classes and workshops in both performance and vocal pedagogy, and is certified in all three Levels of Somatic Voicework™ The LoVetri Method. Her students have performed on national and international tours of Broadway productions, at prestigious conservatories, and in regional theater throughout the country.

What do you think?

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