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Vocal Audition Etiquette: 6 Things to Keep in Mind

When it comes to how you should perform during a vocal audition, there are several options and ways to go about it. But it all depends on what works for you!

We’ve already explored some steps in picking the perfect audition piece, but what are the obvious no-no’s you should be aware of before you step into that room? We’ve got some tips on audition etiquette below!

1. Say No To A Wacky Wardrobe

If you’ve ever been to a vocal audition, you’ve probably seen the man in the polka-dotted suit, or the girl in hot pink from head to toe. (Let’s be honest, they’re hard to miss.)

Sure, it might seem like their attention-grabbing style is a good idea, but there are two reasons why a flashy outfit is something you should definitely not bring to an audition with you.

It’s distracting: A flashy wardrobe will be incredibly distracting during your actual audition! You want the panel to be focused on your performance, not your outfit. You also want them to remember you as a performer. Very rarely does it pay off for you to be remembered as “the Polka-dotted suit guy.”

If your performance is memorable (even if you didn’t get that specific part) the panel will be able to remember a physical name for potential opportunities down the road.

It’s unprofessional: Your outfit may convey that you can’t rely on talent alone to separate you from the rest, so you went with a crazy accessory to do the job for you.

This could be construed as unprofessional. Auditions are very similar to job interviews. You wouldn’t wear a neon tie to an interview, so you shouldn’t wear one in an audition.

What to Wear?

We suggest a comfortable, professional, appropriate outfit that fits into the demographic of the character you are auditioning for. For example, if you’re auditioning for a businessman beau, look sharp! You should wear something that compliments you and says you mean business so judges will look at you and say, “They’re perfect for that part!”

You want the panel to be focused on your performance, not your outfit.

2. Ditch The Choreography

As was the case with a flashy outfit, busy choreography is nothing but a distraction in a vocal audition. The purpose of a vocal audition is for the panel of judges to hear your voice.

Make it your goal to translate the message of the song you are performing. Incorporate strong facial expressions or tasteful gestures and movements if you want to add some spice to your song performance!

It’s okay to move around the room a little bit and act out your performance, but any movement should be supporting the song you are singing and not taking away from it.

If you are auditioning for a stage show, callbacks usually always include a separate dance audition.

3. Work With The Accompanist, Not Against

There often will be an accompanist in the room ready to play your music while you audition. This can be unnerving because you are used to performing a certain way, plus how can you possibly give your best performance with a stranger tinkering along with you?!

Don’t panic! These accompanists are usually incredible sight readers, and chances are they’ve already played the song you’re auditioning with too many times to count.

Mark Your Music

You should always mark your music so that you can be on the exact same page with the accompanist.

  • If you’re not starting at the beginning of the piece, mark exactly where you are starting.
  • If you want to change tempo in a certain section, mark that as well.

This will not only exude professionalism, but it will eliminate any time wasted explaining your piece to the accompanist while the panel you are auditioning for stares at you impatiently.

Exude professionalism and eliminate wasted time.

4. Remember To Project!

Venues for vocal auditions can range from giant stages to stuffy classrooms. In any case, you need to be heard! And you need to be heard from the moment you walk into the room and introduce yourself, to the final note of your song.

Good projection shows the panel that you are confident and experienced. More importantly, it allows them to really listen and analyze your voice. This doesn’t mean than you have to sing in one dynamic throughout your entire performance. Just bring all of your dynamics up a notch.

  • If you were singing quietly (p) before, now you’re singing medium loud (mf).
  • If you were singing loud before (f), now you’re blasting the windows out of here (ff)!

If you don’t practice good projection BEFORE projecting with full force during a vocal audition, you could really hurt your voice! The vocal chords are muscle and they need to be exercised just like every other muscle in your body.

See our tips on how to take care of your vocals here.

5. Mistakes Will Happen

Not every audition is going to be perfect. Take a breath and remind yourself that it happens to everyone. However, it’s important that you don’t apologize for these bad days in an audition! Mishaps happen, but it’s how you recover from those mishaps that make the panel notice you.

Sore Throat

You’ve probably heard a lot of people give the “sore throat” excuse when they haven’t had their best run at a song. And maybe they really do have a sore throat, but it doesn’t change anything about the audition by letting everyone know!

Believe it or not, the panel you’re auditioning for will be able to tell the quality of your voice even if it isn’t your best performance. They’ve seen and heard it all, and they’re experts at what they do.

Forgetting The Lyrics

Forgetting the lyrics is also common in vocal auditions. What a panel is looking for is how quickly you can regain composure and will be able to tell the quality of your voice even if it isn’t your best performance.

If you apologize, roll your eyes, slump your shoulders, or give a heavy sigh after the performance, it doesn’t promote you as a very confident performer.

If you can’t remember the words, sing on a “la” or improvise!

6. Avoid Being Too Eager After The Audition

When going to a vocal audition, you need to realize that you are one among many. Keep the panel you are auditioning for in mind: They’ll see many faces throughout the audition process and reject all but a few. In the end, they may only take one person out of hundreds. Be confident enough in your performance that you don’t have to try and earn any points with the panel.

Don’t Ask How Your Audition Went 

Every now and then, at the end of your audition, the panel will tell you that you did a great job and they’d like to call you back. But, other times, they won’t say a word! You will have to wait with everyone else for a list to go up sometime at the end of the week.

You shouldn’t go into an audition with the expectation that you are going to find out immediately whether or not you got the part. Patience is a virtue!

Don’t Ask For The Part

It’s also in bad taste to ask the panel you are auditioning for to give you the part. Again, don’t go into the audition with expectations that you are going to find out immediately whether or not you got the part. Saying things like “I have this show completely memorized” or “This has always been my dream” will not help you out in the end.

At the end of the day, the panel cares about one thing and one thing only: finding the best person for the part.

One Final Thought

No, you aren’t getting every part you audition for, and you won’t always get call-backs. But it doesn’t mean that you aren’t skilled or special! It just means that this particular path was not yours to take. And again, never be discouraged. There is something better out there waiting for you!

If you’re looking for vocal audition sheet music, check out our selection of 16 and 32-bar excerpt Audition Cuts. (And keep an eye out for tons more vocal audition sheet music coming soon!)

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