JenSop: The Singing Traveler!

Idealist. Dreamer. Singer. Explorer.

Auditions: The Final Frontier

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So as you can gather from my title, this post is about auditions! And there’s a reason for the rest of that title, besides getting a chance to slip in a Star Trek reference. (I couldn’t pass up the opportunity!)

(Also for full disclosure, this post has implied foul language. Just thought I’d warn all those sensitive types out there.)

For many performers, myself very much included, the Audition is one of the worst elements of the career. Nothing brings about more nerves, anxiety, and fear than the dreaded audition! We spend so much time trying to NOT be scared of the AUDITION! (*Running away in terror*)

For those of you not involved in the singing world, let me make an analogy. Imagine that you had to go on job interviews all the time – for the rest of your life essentially – in order to have any kind of job. Because once you get a job, it only lasts so long. Then you have to audition again to get what is essentially the same job – either with the same company or a new one. Over and over. Always being “ON” each and every time. It doesn’t matter if they know you already, you still have to be “ON” and be better than the other new job applicants. No pressure or anything….(insert sarcasm here.)

Now, I must say that I feel like I have come to a point in my performance career that I don’t get nervous in the actual performances any more. I get that great rush of adrenaline, sure, but not the “kill me now” nerves that used to plague me before a performance when I was younger. When I’m going on stage performing as a character in an opera or musical, I feel that wonderful amazing energy that so many of us get addicted to. I become that other person. I’m not nervous because I’m not me anyway! I feed off of the energy of the crowd, and can sing my little heart out!

Why then are auditions not the same? Everyone tells you in your student years to “treat auditions like a performance!” Um, yeah. Easier said than done! I don’t think I’ve ever been able to get into that mindset. I wish I could, believe me. But it’s VERY different singing in front of an appreciative audience versus a table of two or three people that are standing eight feet in front of you – usually in some kind of small rehearsal room – either staring at you with blank faces or staring down at your resume, or some other thing that they happen to be doing.

Throughout the years, I’ve had to come up with different “techniques” to work through my audition nerves. For awhile, the pre-audition pep talk was doing the trick. Telling myself over and over for ten to fifteen minutes before entering the room, how great I was and how wonderful I was going to be. That didn’t work very well for very long. I was too insecure.

Being an over-achiever/perfectionist type, I often put insane amounts of pressure on myself to be, well, perfect. As a result, every audition was SO important and had to go SO well. Who can live up to that kind of pressure?! I wasn’t capable of it – I would always do so much worse in auditions than in my lessons and performances. So I started using a mindset that has been one of my “go-to’s” for awhile. I would think of the sheer immense size of the universe and all that’s in it. So infinitely large and expansive. Not only is our planet just a miniscule blip on that cosmic radar, but I’m even smaller than that. This moment in my life is even smaller than THAT! When I thought of it in those terms, it definitely helped to take the pressure off.

But like all things, you can’t keep using the same technique over and over, or it loses some of its efficacy. I think I’m going to try a new method to the audition madness. I’ve heard of other singers talk about it, but I had my own brush with it yesterday.

Yesterday, I had an audition for a good regional musical theatre company. I’d been wanting an audition with them for years, but had never gotten an appointment. But two weeks ago, they called me out of the blue and asked me to come in and audition to be the understudy for the leading lady in their upcoming show. Yay, right?! Nope. It was for their Christmas show, and as many of you know, I have a very successful Christmas Caroling business that makes me lots of money every year in December. No matter how well the show would pay, it wouldn’t come any where close to what I would make caroling. BUT – I was going to do the audition anyway – just to get in front of their faces.

They had us prepare a 17 page song from the show. Yes – 17 pages. With all of my jobs, I was super busy AND I was also starting rehearsals for my fall show. The audition prep was put on the back burner longer than I would have liked. But thankfully, God has been kind to me (as well as good genes) and I can learn stuff really fast. I learned and memorized that 17 page song in a day and a half. And I sang it (and acted it) pretty darn well!

So I was trying to figure out how I did SO very well at this audition – one that required so much extra preparation too. I think the reason was because I knew I couldn’t do the show anyway – even if I was offered the part. Knowing that I wasn’t really in the running anyway really took the pressure off, I guess. I worked my butt off to get ready, but once I was there and couldn’t do anything else more, I kind of went in with a F— it attitude. And it freakin’ worked!

Perhaps this has to be my new method? I’d already had this kind of attitude on some of my solo singing gigs that weren’t roles in shows. (It’s hard to hide behind a character when you’re just up there singing by your lonesome.) But I’m now thinking that the “Eff It” mentality is the way to go for auditions. Take off the pressure! Do the work ahead of time, then get to the audition room and say Eff It! I’m now at a place in my life where I actually know that I have a lot to offer – in singing and everything else in general – so I’m going to throw myself in and not worry about self doubt or worry – I’ll just say F— it!


Author: JenSop

One of my favorite quotes is, "If your dreams don't scare you, they're not big enough." I guess I've been a dreamer all my life - I set my sights high and then I try to reach the sky. Some might call me a naive idealist, but that's just the way I am. I believe in always taking the high road, I believe in true love, and I believe in treating people the way you want to be treated. If you put good out into the world, good will come back to you! Being the dreamer that I am, I pursued singing as my primary life's calling - I've got two degrees in classical voice under my belt, and I sing just about anything under the sun. I also love a good adventure. Over the past few years, I've done quite a bit of world traveling, and have even lived abroad for stretches at a time: mostly in Vienna (Austria) and Croatia. A few years ago, I was lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time, and I became a travel agent who specializes in Disney vacations. (Seriously, I KNOW Disney - I've been going regularly since I was a little girl - and I LOVE it!) And with all my experience traveling and living in Europe, I'm becoming quite the specialist in that travel category as well. (And last year, I started working as a Tour Director in Central Europe!) As to the other juicy details of my life - I'm originally from Pennsylvania, I'm married to an awesome Croatian man named Miloš who is the BEST adventure partner a girl could ask for. (He's also an expert on knowing how to make me smile.) He's truly the love of my life! I've also had all kinds of other jobs along the way, besides singer and travel pro. (Which is pretty standard for those of us who went to school for music.) I've worked part time weekends as a Disney Princess look-alike for children's parties. I've been teaching for almost 20 years, and have lots of experience in retail and customer service. Oh, and I should also probably mention that I'm a huge Lord of the Rings/Star Trek nerd! :-) Let's all go along for an adventure, shall we?

One thought on “Auditions: The Final Frontier

  1. Aha! Welcome to the dark side. I have two audition attitudes, “F you” and “F it” depending on how insecure I’m feeling. I had a bad experience this summer, and before I got my groove back I would say to myself before every public singing experience, “Because why? BECAUSE F YOU, THAT’S WHY.”

    Once you get into your character and start singing–or, heck, once you get into the room and turn on the professional veneer–that all slides away into the task at hand. But beforehand, that bristly bitchiness keeps you protected. I know that, for me, it keeps my brain safe. I’m also a people pleaser, and for me “bitchy” tends to translate into “more quiet and willing to take time to center” more than anything else.

    One other thing that works for me: as long as I divorce an audition completely from the outcome, I’ll be fine. That’s why during audition season I make it a point to have the times, addresses, and requirements of my auditions really prominent in my planner, but I have the company name located somewhere out of sight. If I could be singing for Podunk No Pay or James Conlon/Placido Domingo/James Levine, then I can just sing. However, if I’ve been reminded for days that I’m about to sing for the Met and that I’ve never sung for them before? Whoa, nelly. That ship is gonna go down FAST.

    Anyway, I think I’ve written you a novel instead of a comment. In summation: Dude, totally. 😀

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