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BWW Blog: NYC Vocal Coach, Robert Marks - 10 Audition Tips

December 28
7:54 AM 2012

BWW Blog: NYC Vocal Coach, Robert Marks - 10 Audition Tips

For my last blog post of the year on this website, I've selected 10 of my favorite musical audition tips to share with you. For more tips and advice, follow me on Twitter (

1. If you've planned what to sing from your own repertoire, avoid changing songs at the last minute without good reason. It's natural to second-guess yourself when under pressure, but it's probably just your nerves talking. It's always better to avoid making important decisions when under the influence of adrenaline!

2. Trying to get through your entire song when asked for only 16 bars shows that you don't know how to follow directions. However, since a bar is not a measure of time, requesting a certain number of bars of a song is somewhat illogical. Remember that 16-bar auditions are essentially type-casting, to determine whether you will go on to the next step of the audition process. When cutting your song, keep in mind that the requested 16 bars should equal about 35-45 seconds that shows you off at your best. If they're being literal about the number of bars you're permitted to sing, you'll have to be ready for that contingency with appropriate song cuts.

3. Know what you're singing about, and to whom you're singing, as well as the meaning of every single word of the lyric. I recommend singing to one or more imaginary people, and optionally including the actual people behind the table. When singing, don't worry too much about your hands. Motion is generated by emotion, and your physical movement should evolve from your subtext.

4. Think of the waiting room as a professional workspace, and try not to let others distract you from your impending audition. Make every effort to put aside any preconceived notions about what will happen since things constantly change in the audition room.

5. Avoid learning a new song for an audition unless required, and try not to audition with any song if you have doubts about your ability to sing it well. Worrying about hitting the last note may distract you throughout your performance. And don't bring any song into an audition room if it's not memorized and prepared. They have a tendency to thumb through your book.

6. Never snap or clap tempo to the accompanist. Give the tempo of your song by softly singing a bar or two. If the accompanist is unable to decipher markings on music, or has multiple page turns, your audition may be sabotaged. The most important thing to indicate in music cuts is what you want the accompanist to play for your introduction. The more care you take in the presentation of your audition music, the more care the accompanist will give it.

7. Increase your repertoire to include more songs in more styles, so you are ready with appropriate audition material.

8. It's best to avoid "signature" songs that make us think of the original artists. If you sing "Don't Rain On My Parade," it will be difficult for the auditors not to think of Barbra Streisand or Lea Michele.

9. It's generally a good idea not to sing a song from the show you're auditioning for unless specifically requested. Why? There's no need to limit yourself to only that one role. And you don't want to appear locked into a specific performance that might not match the director's vision of how that song should be done.

10. Remember that no matter what, there's always the next audition. In this business the only way to fail is to give up.

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Guest Blogger: Robert Marks Robert Marks maintains a busy vocal studio in New York City, working with performers of all ages and levels of experience. He also teaches performance workshops throughout the US and Europe. He was a pianist with the original Broadway production of ANNIE, and spent two seasons as the Associate Conductor of the St. Louis Muny Opera. For several years, he was the host and musical director of the acclaimed YOUNGSTARS performances of professional children in New York City. His well-known clients have included cast members of almost every current musical on Broadway, and stars such as Lea Michele, Natalie Portman, Laura Bell Bundy, Constantine Maroules, Britney Spears, Ashley Tisdale, Debbie Gibson, and Sarah Jessica Parker. He holds a degree in speech pathology, and has taught at the American Musical and Dramatic Academy, the Professional Development Program for the New York Singing Teachers’ Association, and at Nashville's Belmont University as a special guest artist. As a vocal coach, his clientele ranges from beginners to Broadway cast members, as well as singers of cabaret and pop music. He is an expert in helping performers present themselves to their best advantage in auditions and onstage.