Interested in auditioning for a musical theater show? Don’t know how to pick out a 16-32 bar audition song? We’re here to help!
To find audition songs, you can look at some shows from musical theater or go over lists on the internet of songs. See blog post Audition Song Ideas – For Kids for references to song lists.
Here’s a link to a list of Broadway musicals, a good resource for finding songs that aren’t usually sung at auditions. Go through and listen to some songs from the shows either on Youtube, or Grooveshark. You will need to listen to a lot of songs, fast songs (up tempo) and slow songs (ballad). Don’t try to sing any songs yet. Simply listen to them, and see if you like the sound of them.
Remember, you probably don’t have to sing the whole song. It depends on what the theater you are auditioning for has requested you to perform. In the case you need 16 bars, which would be a verse. Say you need 32 bars that would be a verse and a chorus approximately.
Make a list of about 6-10 songs that interest you. They can be songs from stage musicals or movie musicals.
Here is mine:
- I Need to Know from Tarzan The Musical
- Astonishing from Little Women The Musical
- 16 Going on 17 from The Sound of Music
- Anything Can Happen from Mary Poppins The Musical
- Mother Knows Best from Disney’s Tangled
- Consider Yourself from Oliver!
- Beyond My Wildest Dreams from The Little Mermaid The Musical
If the theater you are auditioning for would like you to bring sheet music with you to the audition, check to see if the songs on your list are available online. Musicnotes has a whole bunch of sheet music which is available for immediate download, which is very convenient when preparing for an audition. The longer you can practice the song with accompaniment, the way it will sound at the audition, the better.
If you cannot find the sheet music to any ten songs on your list, then mark them off. Besides Musicnotes, search on Amazon for songbooks that contain the song on your list. In that case, you would need to purchase an entire book for the one song. Who knows, when you buy a book you might find a bunch more songs that you would like to sing for different auditions.
Now, look up the lyrics to the 6-10 songs on your list. Familiarize yourself to the songs by listening to each one a few times while reading the lyrics at the same time. After this, sing as well as you can through each song once. Keep in mind that you will have time to rehearse and learn each song. Right now we only want to know what does not showcase your voice to the best extent. If you cannot sing it accurately in the written key, you can transpose it easily into a higher or lower key on Musicnotes. Don’t sing a song that is out of your range.
If the song properly showcases your voice then keep it on your list, if not don’t hesitate to remove it. By now you should have narrowed your list to 2-4 songs.
Learn and listen to the remaining songs on your list a bit more. By now you should have a good idea about each song. Now it’s time to make a decision. Which song best portrays your skill? If possible, have someone else listen to you sing each song and vote on which sounds best. Which song are you most comfortable singing?
Another thing to consider is what role you are auditioning for. You don’t want to sing a song from the show you are auditioning for, but you can sing a song that has the same feeling as a song that the character you are auditioning for sings. For instance, if you are auditioning for the role of Oliver in Oliver!, you could think about song portrays a forlorn, innocent feeling. The song I Need to Know from Tarzan The Musical matches this emotion. I wouldn’t sing Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Da-Day, if you are auditioning for a character that is sad and lonely.
Once you have picked your song, now is this time to purchase the music to it. Does it need to be transposed? If so, make sure to buy it in the right key. Print it, punch holes in it and put it in a three ring binder with your head shot in the front pocket of the binder.
In the instance that you buy the music through Musicnotes, you can have a computer generated version of the accompaniment music. Use this to practice your song. If you can play the piano, or have a sibling that can, you can practice your audition song this way too. You could also record yourself playing it (and not singing) so you can practice singing it with accompaniment the way it will ultimately sound when you walk into the audition room.
Get out your binder with your sheet music in it, and sing through the entire song with accompaniment. Pick the amount of measures you need to sing. If the audition requirement is 32 or 16 bars, don’t go over the said amount of bars. You can be right on the dot. Keep in mind that you don’t have to start at the beginning of the song.
With your excerpt chosen, you are finally ready to begin rehearsing to vocally perform at your best at the audition. It is very important at this point, that you have chosen a song perfect and in tune to your voice. Usually the song is all the casting directors have to judge you by. The song must match your age group and gender. If it doesn’t match your gender completely, it’s okay to change ‘girl’ to ‘boy’ or ‘he’ to ‘she’. The song must also express personality, your stage presence, and show acting skill. Especially if you are not performing monologue along with the song. Don’t just stand there and sing. Make up an imaginary person that you are singing the song to and sing as if you talking to them.
When you have learned your song and feel ready, perform it for someone else and see if they have any tips.