As a pianist, voice coach and longtime accompanist, I have a LOT to say about music preparation. When I show up to play piano for auditions, there is nothing that fills me with dread more than music that is illegible, disorganized and confusing. My job is to make you sound your best, but it is nearly impossible to do that if you music is a total disaster. In this tutorial I am going to show you step-by-step how to prepare your audition book. Ready? Let’s go! Prepare audition book for singers!
Five Simple Rules to Prepare Your Audition Book:
- Sheet music must be clear and easy to read
- Cuts and markings must be marked properly
- Tempo must be marked
- Page turns are the DEVIL
- Glare free plastic sheets are necessary
Steps to prepare your audition music
Step 1: Get a clean copy of the music
So many singers have old photocopies of their music in their book, which they got from a class or voice teacher. It is crucial that you purchase a clean copy, preferably in pdf download version, to avoid dark spots on the music from photocopying. Make sure you get a proper piano/vocal score - there should be three lines: top line for voice and the lower two lines for the piano score. Make sure that it has an original accompaniment and that the RH of the piano isn’t doubling the melody.
Step 2: Make FOUR copies of your audition music
You will need:
1. One copy for yourself to use in coaching and workshops.
2. One 16 bar cut in a no glare plastic sheet.
3. One 32 bar cut in a no glare plastic sheet.
4. One copy that you file away in case you need to change your cuts.
Step 3: Choose Your Audition Cut
Every audition cut should show the part of the song that shows off as much of your vocal range and acting skills as possible. A lot of the time, your best cut will take place at the end of the song, since that is often where the “money note” is, but it completely depends on the song.
You need to make sure that you have a 4 or 8 count introduction, so that you are able to get your first note and get into the right tempo with your accompanist. The intruduction will usually be two measures before your cut.
My colleagues in the industry tell me that the 16 bar cut doesn’t have to be strictly 16 bars, as long as you only sing for a total of 30 seconds. In that same respect, the 32 bar cut means about 60 seconds of singing. Believe me when I say that casting directors aren’t going to take the score and count measures!
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Step 4: Prepare Your Audition Cut
Once you have prepared your cut, you can do some scissor and glue work. Mount on cardboard, make sure there are no page turns and put your music in glare-free plastic sheets.
How to mark the music in your audition book
- Put the tempo marking at the top. This will give us a fast clue as to what we’re looking at.
- Mark the introduction.
- Mark any tempo changes, ritardando, pauses, etc.
- Use bold marker and write clearly.
Step 5: Organize Your Audition book
You need two binders: Your binder for coaching and your accompanist’s binder.
Make sure everything is organized into short cuts and long cuts. You can organize by styles Legit, Contemporary, Pop/Rock. Make sure that everything that is in your binder is something you can sing well.
Additional advice that you will thank me for:
1. Consult with a pro
Make sure you have your music looked over and played through by a professional pianist who can check your work.
2. Go for regular coachings
If there is material in your book that you haven’t done recently, it’s a great idea to have a rehearsal or a coaching with a trusted pianist/coach so you can stay fresh
Pay a professional pianist to record the accompaniments of all of your audition songs and cuts. You will need these to practice!
If you are looking for another great resource to dive deep into Musical Theater auditions, check out this blog. It has incredible resources on repertoire and more!
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