Vocal Competitions and Auditions.

By Jeannie Deva.

With Online video submission, auditions for shows such as American Idol, The Voice and America’s Got Talent run year-round. Even still thousands of singers stand in line from the early hours of the morning in hopes of making it through the audition levels and onto the show.

Auditioning and singing in front of a panel of judges can be one of the hardest things a performer can do. The pressure alone can cause you to make vocal mistakes that might otherwise never occur. What are the ingredients that add up to the effective performance and how do you really “sock it to the judges” or auditioning panel?

Are You Ready?

Before putting yourself through such audition stress, do yourself a favor and make sure your voice and performance skills are adequately developed. You can consider that your vocal technique is adequate when you have achieved freedom of expression and can deliver a song with good tone, consistency, control, and passion. You should be able to express passion without creating vocal strain or off-pitch phrases.

Common Problems.

The problems many contestants have in common are:

  • They sing off-pitch (Pitchy singing).
  • The choice of song is wrong for their voice.
  • Their song choice is incorrect for the competition.
  • They have not developed a unique vocal sound or performance style to avoid sounding like a “record copy.”

These are some of the obvious difficulties. However, even more, basic is this:

  • Their voice is not developed to the level of being able to trust how it’s going to work even under pressure. They assume they are ready for competition even though they have not done the work to develop their vocal technique and performance skills.
  • They’ve become too serious about the audition. As a result, they’ve lost their spirit of fun and with it their sense of freedom of expressiveness.
  • They’re too concentrated on creating a good impression rather than reaching out to their listeners and touching them with their song performance.
  • They’ve forgotten that performing is for the listener, not for the performer.

Choosing the Right Song.

You may have an excellent voice. But if you have not picked the right songs, you have a big strike against you. It can be challenging to sing a well-known cover song uniquely different enough to give it your own signature and standout. Consider these aspects of the songs you select:

  1. You believe in the message enough to pour your own heart and soul into it.
  2. The style of the music allows you to do things with your voice that bring out the best in your tone and unique attributes.
  3. The song has adequate emotional dynamic to be used for an audition or competition.
  4. It is a song you can interpret that will not automatically compare you with the original artist.
  5. The song permits you to take chances both emotionally and vocally.
  6. The song inspires you emotionally and musically to make certain melodic and phrasing changes from the original recording, while still keeping true to the basic song.

“Selling” Your Song.

Once you selected the right song(s), you need to know how to sell it. This means really bringing out your voice and taking the risks that will make this song the most memorable performance your audience or judges have heard. You need to know how to bring out the best of yourself and be willing to do so. When you practice, focus first on resolving any technical details. Then practice the performance of the song. It is folly to think that you can arrive at an audition and just magically engage your audience. These are skills that are honed during your practice so as to bridge from rehearsal to the actual performance. Competitions and auditions are in fact very demanding performances.

Judges are People Too.

Singing in front of a panel of judges can make you feel like you are under a microscope. But remember, the judges are people too. They, like everyone who listens to music, have the desire to be touched by the song performance. In big competitions, the judges have to sit and listen to singer after singer. It is an intense job. They will be grateful to receive courtesy, respect, and a genuine performance. When it’s your turn to perform, remember that the judges hope to be touched and moved by you and your performance. Sing to them. Do it for them – not for you.

Reach out to them as you should do to any audience and make a difference in their day. They will remember and appreciate you for it. Most successful performers develop their skills from experience over a long period of time. But if you work on each aspect of performance as you should do the technical development of your voice, you’ll be able to acquire these skills faster than by hit or miss experiences.

To work on your technical skills, we recommend buying and using The Contemporary Vocalist Volume One and The Deva Method Vocal Warm-ups. To hone your performance skills, The Singer’s Guide to Powerful Performances is a must-have for you.