10 Tips for Nailing Your A Cappella Audition
It’s that time of the year again...A cappella auditions! Have you had your eyes/ears set on auditioning for your school’s a cappella group? We’re here to tell you, GO FOR IT! Auditioning for an a cappella group has the potential to change your entire college career. You will build strong friendships, grow as a singer, and become part of something you will take pride in as an alum for years to come. You have nothing to lose. Here are some tips to nail that audition from a music director’s point of view.
Go to an informational club fair to see what your school offers. Do you have multiple female, male, or co-ed groups? What kind of group would you like to join? Do they have a history of competing in the ICCAs (International Championship of Collegiate A Cappella) and would you like to compete? Have a conversation with someone at the table and ask them what genres they like to sing, how they would describe their group, and why you should audition for their group! You can get a feel for what their group is like and see how you fit in. You can also Youtube their past videos to hear their sound! Note: group sound can change every semester based on members constantly flowing in and out.
Get an idea of what the group is looking for. Do they need basses? Sopranos? Vocal percussionists? Maybe they currently need soloists, or someone who’s great at harmonizing. Sometimes groups only have 1 or 2 positions open. It all depends on the number of seniors who’ve graduated and how large they want to make their group each semester. If you had a great audition but don’t get in on your first try, don’t let that stop you from auditioning a second time. Maybe it just wasn’t the right time!
Pick a song you feel completely comfortable with AND shows off your best singing attributes. Do you have an amazing range? Can you belt like Whitney Houston? Some groups will ask for one song with verse/chorus only, some groups may ask for up to two songs with contrasting styles. See what they’re looking for and select parts of the song that show off your skills the most.
Memorize the lyrics. You will seem more prepared, experienced, and confident if you make your audition as close to a performance as possible. Stage presence is a huge part of a cappella, so groups will be looking for your energy, eye contact, and comfortability. If you can’t memorize the song, using a phone or paper for the lyrics is usually an option. Just do your best to avoid staring down the whole time and don’t forget to smile! :)
Show up 5-10 minutes early! The group will often have an informational form for you to fill out with your musical experience. Mention any special skills you have that make you stand out (i.e arranging, musical background, awards). Additionally, depending on the amount of people auditioning, the group may be there for a few hours. Honor your time slot and their time, too.
Be prepared for additional tests. The audition may include range testing, pitch matching, sight reading, blending experiences, and more depending on the group. Be sure to warm up prior to your audition! Also, if you need a starting pitch for your song, let the director know.
Relax and Breathe. They are people too, and they had to audition, just like you! Practice in front of one or two trusted friends before your audition so you have the experience of people listening to you and watching you perform. It’s normal to be nervous. Just take a breath.
Show off your personality! The way you present yourself (dress, attitude, posture, and interactions) are all important in your audition. Think of the audition as an informal interview. The group will likely audition several people, and you want to make a positive impression. Group chemistry is important, and they will be gauging how your personality fits with the current members.
Don’t NOT Audition. Double negative, I know. The point is, some people let fear or doubts prevent them from auditioning. You’ll never know the outcome unless you try. Realize that many groups accept non-music majors and individuals who can’t read music, as long as they have a great ear and can learn from other modalities. So, even if you were never trained to read music, GO FOR IT!
Be yourself. Ultimately, when you fit in with a group, both you and the group will know it. Get ready for callbacks, have fun, and break a leg! ;)
About the Author: Shannon Conner was the music director of Elizabethtown College’s all female a cappella group, Melica from 2011-2014. She currently works as a clinician for Cut Off Studios.