10 Tips for Nailing Your A Cappella Audition

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Valerie J. Wilson is a freelance writer who enjoys writing about marketing, health and wellness, education, and the arts. She teaches writing classes at Syracuse University and also owns and operations her own freelance writing business.

The audition is coming up, and you're dusting off the pre-performance jitters. Take the following tips into consideration.

1. Choose the right song. Easier said than done, isn’t it? But this choice is of paramount importance. Consider the venue and its acoustics, and be sure to choose a song that showcases your entire vocal range, as well as your style, personality, and stage presence.

2. Get coached. It’s not always about hitting every note with perfection. It’s about making a connection with your listeners. If you can afford it, a professional voice coach can and will help you with everything from consistency to allowing your emotions to come out while you sing to stretching your range. If you can’t work with a professional, seek out people singing a cappella at your school or in your community and ask for their honest opinion of what you’re bringing to your audition.

3. Consciously decide how you are going to stand out above the rest. Competition is tough, but you already know this. You need to be true to yourself and let your best self make a mark. Is it going to be that one note that completely blows them away? Is it going to be the one dramatic moment that isn't under or overdone?

If you’re singing in a group, the chemistry between all of you is extremely important. The people evaluating your audition are looking for that, almost as much as they are looking for voice and talent.

4. Be prepared to answer some questions before you start to sing. This is actually done as a favor to you, in hopes that you'll get your breathing regulated and become comfortable in the environment.

By all means, be sure to check out your own online reputation before sharing your social media links. You never know whether the group you hope to be a part of may be scouting you online.

5. Pitch pipes are fine. If you're not comfortable with that idea, do a little homework before the audition to see if a piano will be available for you to just strike the one note. If both of these options fall short for you, the back-up plan is to quietly, or even in your head, hit the highest note of the song. It's entirely rare to have a perfect pitch; your judges will know this and won’t be bothered at all by the need to check your pitch.

6. Morning, noon, and night: practice. There’s no fall-back. You have to be ready for the unexpected, and if you’re seasoned and confident with your choice of songs, you’ll be in a better position to handle the stress of something going a bit wrong during the performance.

7. Quiet your head. A few minutes before you walk into your audition, find a quiet space, and focus on your breathing. Shut the entire world out. Become quiet. Just be. Get centered. And get ready to nail it.

8. Picking an audition piece. Know the group’s repertoire and pick something that complements the group’s identity, or pushes boundaries in a way that won’t offend the existing members’ sensibilities.

You should also pick a song you know very well because, let's face it: you're going to be nervous. Let it show off one or two big notes in your voice, but beyond those big moments, take care to show them you're nimble around phrasing and volume. That kind of self-editing shows that you put musicality before your own spotlight.

9. Stay loose! You’ll be much more engaging to watch if you're relaxed and loose. Be yourself. Do what you love to do. And show that you're truly enjoying yourself. That alone will make you appear confident and comfortable, and that’s what they are looking for.

10. Do your homework. Who is evaluating your audition? What are their backgrounds? Is it a completely blind audition? If not, it’s your job to find out what they’ve done, what their style is, what they are looking for -- and ultimately what it’s going to take to impress them.

Cliché or not, focus on enjoying yourself. When you do, they will, too. Get out there, own it, and break a leg!