Overcoming Audition Jitters

nervousAs a singer, I’ve attended countless auditions.  Each one is unique, with its own set of challenges, but I’ve found that the nerves are the same.  Most singers I know get nervous at every audition, even to the point of it affecting their performance.  So how do you make those nervous feelings work for you, instead of against you, in an audition setting?  Here’s what has helped me.

1. Luck favors the prepared.

I’ve found that the best way to calm myself down is to tell myself that I’ve prepared the best I can and the rest is up to fate.  All the legwork for an audition should be done in advance: you should know your words, music, characters, ornamentations, etc. cold.  If you have a piece that you don’t feel comfortable with, don’t put it on your audition.  Even if you’ve put it on your list weeks ago, 90% of the time you can still change it when you walk in.  It’s an audition rep list, not the Ten Commandments– nothing is written in stone.  Always choose what will show you off best and don’t worry about the logistics too much.  If you give a good performance, the judges will remember that, not the fact that you changed your rep list.  Don’t be afraid to bring too many things with you– feel free to carry extra resumes, headshots, rep lists, music, and anything else you think the judges might find helpful.

I know that this isn’t always possible.  Sometimes you don’t have the luxury to fully prepare your audition.  That’s life.  Just tell yourself that you did the best you could in the time allotted and make sure that everything else is solid so that you can hang on that.  There are many factors to an audition and sometimes those factors are out of your control.  One of my favorite inspirational quotes comes from female Olympic boxer, Marlen Esparza.  She says, “I had to get comfortable with getting uncomfortable.  I was uncomfortable about 90% of the time, but I had to embrace it.”  Learn to accept what you cannot control and don’t get freaked out when you’re not feeling in the zone.  It will be ok.  Remember, there will always be another audition, another shot.  Just give every one your best try and hope for the best.

2. Dress for Success

I’m sure you’ve heard a thousand things about what to wear and what not to wear to an audition.  When you boil it down, it’s simple: Wear something that flatters you, but doesn’t distract.  Go simple.  Be classy.  Be yourself.

I always put on my audition clothes and think, “Would I want to meet my professional role model in this outfit?”  The next question I ask myself is, “Am I comfortable?”  You want to walk in feeling confident and as comfortable as possible.  When you’re in an audition, you want to stack everything you can in your favor.  Don’t walk in with some new shoes that you feel like you’re going to break your ankle in or some dress that’s so tight that you can’t breathe correctly.  Check the weather and bring what you’ll need to stay warm, cool, dry, etc.  Be comfortable so that your wardrobe doesn’t distract you from the things that you really need to be thinking about.

3. Be Zen with Your Environment

If you’ve been to even one audition, you know that the environment is tense.  Everyone is nervous, pacing or doing their weird warm-ups or chatting endlessly with you, and it’s easy to let that nervous energy feed your own nerves.  As a performer, you’re attuned to your surroundings and the emotions of the people around you, so it’s normal for this to happen.  I think it’s most helpful to be aware of this, but to ultimately tune it out.  Don’t let everyone else’s stress and nerves affect you.  Be yourself, be confident, be polite, but keep focused on your task.

4. Treat Every Audition Like a Performance

If you’re auditioning, it means that you’re a performer.  And since you’ve committed your life to performance, there must be something about it that you love.  As you walk into an audition, remind yourself what you love about performing and then do it.  An audition is really just an opportunity to give a performance to a captive audience.  Sure, it doesn’t have the physical glamor of a full performance, but it has all the emotional and musical potential of a fully-staged performance.  So forget about where you are and what you’re doing in that moment, and just perform the music that you’ve chosen to bring into this audition.  Think of it as an opportunity, not as a judgement.  You’re simply performing for the judges.  No matter what comes of the audition, at least you had the experience, for yourself, of performing.  And that should be a joyful thing.

5. The More You Do, The Better You Get

It’s an old adage, but it’s true.  The more auditions you experience, the less nervous you’ll be.  At some point, it becomes mundane.  This isn’t true for everyone (we’re all unique), but I think this happens with most people.  Something new is always scarier than something well-worn.  If you’re nervous, don’t beat yourself up.  Just try to find the things that help.  Accept your nerves and use the adrenaline to fire up your performance rather than hinder it.  You’re a performer and you have something to give to the world.  Just keep your goals and individuality in mind.  And when things don’t go so well, just move on from it.  Try to learn something and do better next time.  There’s always another audition, another chance.  Besides, even the greatest singers get nervous, so you’re in good company.

I hope some of these things were helpful.  If you have any more questions about auditioning, please leave me a comment below.  🙂


1 thought on “Overcoming Audition Jitters”

  1. I can’t stress how much comfort matters in an audition situation in terms of clothing–I’m so glad you mentioned it! For mezzi, I think it’s definitely a little easier (people don’t necessarily expect heels) in the shoe department. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been in a masterclass setting and worn heels and been told as soon as I’ve finished my aria to “take those darn heels off”!

    Your other points align with my own personal experiences, too. Each and every audition becomes more and more a chance to showcase my talent and perform for the panel rather than a dire opportunity to prove something to someone (which is how I felt when I first began auditioning). Ah, the wisdom of experience…

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