24 March 2011

Things I REALLY wish teenagers understood about auditions.

So, I decided to hop off and watch Footloose auditions on Tuesday and teacher-me kicked in wanting to fix so many little problems I saw...couple of issues with that, though; 1. I'm not their teacher and 2. in order to illustrate why they shouldn't do some of these things, I'd have to use some teaching unfriendly language.  Therefore, I'm gonna put it on the internet where I will not be fired for saying such things and hopefully, this'll help at least one someone out there.  There are three lists.  The first is a list of things that I used to think were common sense and maybe just hadn't floated into the heads of these kiddos.  The second is just a few singing tips that are a lot easier said than done.  The third is a few voiced irritations toward the behind-the-scenes people.  Here goes...

List One: Wow, the lights are really bright, aren't they?
  1. For those of you whose largest stage debut to date was in the school's gymacafetorium, let me tell you something: stage lights are bright.  Blindingly so.  That's where all those cliched phrases about actors getting lost in the blinding lights came from.  (Ugh.)  Now that you know this, there's really no need to mention it to the people you're auditioning for.  Chances are they know it.  And when you hear the phrase, "Wow!  Those are really bright lights!" from 60 different kids, it can get very taxing on the nerves. 
  2. Wear nice clothes.  It makes you look like you care.  And take off your damn hat.
  3. If you bring a CD to sing with, for the love of all that is right in the world, make sure it's actually a karaoke track.  If I can't hear you over Journey, I can't tell how well you can sing.  It also says that you probably can't hold your own with a chorus behind you.  Neither of those are a good sign for a director.
  4. Do NOT injure yourself during the dance audition.  I don't care how cute or cool the move you just did was.  A cool dance move is so not worth having a gimped character for the rest of the show.
  5. Allright, this one isn't necessarily common sense, but it needs to be said.  Ladies, do not toss your hair every five minutes.  To the casting committee it makes you look nervous, fidget-y, and not in control of your body.  To the other female auditioners, it just makes you look like a stuck up bitch.  Hopefully, neither of those sentences is true of you and you don't want to be perceived as such. 
List Two: The walls make for a good audience, I promise.
  1. If you are going to bring sheet music, try very hard to find a copy with the chord changes written above the measures.  (They're the things that look a little like this: Gm7, BbM+6...stuff like that.)  It helps the accompanist fake their way through your song if the written notes are really hard to play without lots of practice. 
  2. On that note, when you've got an accompanist whose sight reading your music, things might not go perfectly like you'd like them.  Don't freak out and DON'T try to make it look like everything's the piano player's fault.  It's in your best interest to know your song backwards and forwards and plow through when things go awry.
  3. Did I mention practice?  Practice.  When you're done practicing, get a captive audience and sing some more.  Sing to the wall, sing in front of a mirror, sing for your friends...what-have-you.  Most people who work in music have magic powers that allow us to be able to tell the difference between a nervous brain spasm and I'm-so-awesome-I-don't-need-to-practice syndrome.  The latter is soooo not endearing.
  4. Breathe, but not too much.  You know when you speak and you just naturally breathe where commas and periods would fall if what you said were written?  It's the same things with singing.  Breathe where the commas and periods are and you'll be allright.  If that doesn't quite feel right, say the words out loud as though you were speaking to a friend and make a note of where you took breaths.
  5. Chill out.  Natural you will always be better than overacting you.
  6. This may be difficult for you to know the difference, but please pick a song that is in your comfortable singing range.  You may have picked a song that you like, but if you can't hit some of the notes because they're too low or high, it sounds bad; you'll normally end up either cutting out in those spots or singing wonky notes.  And while a seasoned musician will be able to tell that that's what the problem is, we're still stuck with the issue that you sang something out of your range and we didn't get to hear what you sound like in your range.  Essentially, we don't know what you sound like and that makes it hard to give you a role. 
  7. Gentlemen, there is nothing wrong with singing in your upper register.  Just because you're not a low, growl-y bass, doesn't mean you're not manly.  Hell, tenors are hot and the majority of musical theatre roles are written for them, not the basses.
List Three: It is just never okay.
  1. If you're going to cut a person of in the middle of their song, please at least wait untill a cadence.  It is irritating and jarring to get cut off smack in the middle and because of how we're trained with music in modern society, it actually makes the person singing feel like they've done poorly to be cut off so unceremoniously.
  2. Being a choreographer does NOT give you free license to be a raging bitch.  Being a director or member of the production staff doesn't either, but this seems to be a pretty common choregrapher character flaw.  Theatre is a professional community and that means it is built upon respect.  You have to show your performers the same amount of respect you expect them to show you regardless of age or skill level.  I've had really nice and awesome choreographers take uncoordinated people like me and turn them into a spinning, awesome-looking, dance-y thing.  Respectful choreographers (and directors, stage managers, etc.) get their performers to learn steps quicker and better.  The bitchy ones get ignored and argued with.  I mean, really, you're only making more work for yourself.  Especially with teenagers!  What, do you have a death wish or something?  An adult is going to write a letter of complaint or something reasonable like that when you suck; a teenager's gonna put krazy glue in your socks.  Choose wisely. 
  3. Parents.  Chill out.  Chill out, chill out, chill out.  You're making everyone crazy.  Sit in the back, watch politely, keep your comments to yourself, and after it's all over, tell your kid he/she did a good job. 
Really, after all of that, I guess the important bit is to not get discouraged by stuff and keep auditioning.  Practice makes perfect and what-all. 

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