X-Factor/American Idol or Any Singing Audition: Top Ten Don’ts
The X-Factor came to Miami earlier this year for auditions. Because this competition places no age limits on its talent search, whenever they come to South Florida, people come to me from West Palm Beach to the Florida Keys – people all ages, experience and walks of life for coaching and singing lessons. They come to mend every possible crack in their vase, so when the pressure is on, they won’t shatter.
This year we coached a 55-year old traveling salesman from Ft. Lauderdale. He had sung in high school, lost the dream, and wanted to audition. There was a Hassidic Jewish man who sang Fiddler on the Roof for his audition. There were teens and pre-teens. The music ranged from 50’s doo-wop to Latin pop and Latin rock to jazz, country, mainstream rock and mainstream pop.
Teaching people how to reach their vocal best is the Kramer family business. We are the exception that makes the rule – teachers who can – and do – actually sing professionally.
I had a dream and I fought for it – hard – until I became the proverbial rock star. Twenty years later, I’m still singing, still performing, and still releasing albums. It’s not an easy business, and I’ve learned some pretty important lessons along the way. If you are thinking about auditioning for a competition, increase your chances for success by avoiding the following mistakes:
Top 10 DON’TS for a Successful Audition:
1. Start early – You can’t cram six months’ of work into three weeks. Yes, we can do quick fixes, helping you with your diction, breathing, and interpretation. We can work on the basics of increasing your range and improving your stage presence. But we can’t do the long-term work of polishing your voice and getting you to a professional level. That takes time. Don’t wait for an audition deadline to get started if you’re really serious about singing.
2. Don’t get stuck on the wrong song. Too many students insist on singing a song they like rather than a song they sing well. Start by picking 10 songs. Be open to feedback. Really listen. I narrow my students’ list to three songs that sound best for them by the second lesson. Favor one, but prepare all three. If you make it to round two, you’ll need them.
3. Don’t try to sing out of your range. Many singers think they have to show that they can hit certain notes. The bottom line is if it sounds bad, it’s over. Stick to your sweet spot for an audition. We can work on increasing your range over time.
4. Be original. Don’t follow the pack. Pick a song that isn’t in America’s current top 40. If everyone else is singing the song you bring to the audition, you are automatically compared to them and it’s much harder for you to stand out.
5. Don’t be a carbon copy, but don’t venture too far off the ranch. You need to be original within commercial zones. You can and should vary your timing or your note sequences, but keep in mind that you need to appeal to a national audience, so don’t get carried away.
6. Don’t worry about getting the judges to like you. Trying too hard is a turn-off in any situation. Tell your story your own way. Don’t watch the judges to figure out their reaction; compel them to watch you.
7. Sing in tune. It’s not as simple as it sounds – for any of us. Most people are too distracted when they’re practicing to pay attention to their pitch. Record yourself so you can listen when you’re not busy singing and identify your rough spots. A phone, PC, or any smart electronic device will do. Once you’re aware of them, I can work with you to hit the right notes.
8. Proper breathing – It’s easy to teach a singer to breath correctly if they’re willing to let go of old habits. I work with my students to vocally “choreograph” each song so that breaths are planned and they stay in control of their vocal delivery.
9. Don’t scream with the crowd the night before your audition. You’ve come too far to blow it now. If you plan on arriving to your audition the night before to get a good spot in line, don’t get caught up in the excitement and blow out your voice. And make sure that you get good rest for the two nights prior, because if you’re tired, you’re not at your best.
10. If you’re old enough to drink, don’t. The time to celebrate is after your audition not before. Your instrument is part of your body, so take good care of it.
Check back with us next week for the top ten DO’s for your best audition.
This blog has been brought to you by The Kramer Voice Company