#1. DO NOT... ATTEMPT TO MAKE UP YOUR OWN SONG
We've all had those moments when we are asked for a second song. Yay! You get to show off some more of your talents! You have the perfect contrasting song in mind. But before you can speak, the accompanist or director starts paging though your book to make their own choice. You know you should speak up but you are frozen and panicked as they flip through your tome of songs. It is a rule that they will always land on a dusty old song that you've had in your book since the beginning of time. This was one of those times.
I was auditioning for a show that I will call "The 27th Bi-annual Spelling Contest." I looked cute and I was ready. I thought so, anyway. I walked in, made chit-chat, and performed my well-prepared light soprano-mix song. Nailed it! I saw a glint of interest in the casting director's eye. Then came the usual question that plagues my existence: "Can you do something belty?" Sigh... As my mind went through the possible belty songs I could do, the accompanist flipped my book open, landed on "Waiting for Life," from Once on This Island (which I should not have in my book for, um, multiple reasons), and said "This one would be fun!" Yup. Fun.
I should have just suggested something else, but I went into smile-and-nod-robot-mode and enthusiastically agreed. (Bonus lesson: Don't ever let yourself go into smile-and-nod-robot-mode.) I don't even remember why I had that song in my book. I had never performed it in public before, but I loved the song and listened to it all the time. My common sense melted away and I thought to myself "Yeah, I can do that song! No problem!" The accompaniment began and hilarity ensued.
Halfway through the first verse, I realized that listening to a song all the time does not mean that you know it well enough to perform it as a solo. You know how when you sing along with a song on the radio, you feel like you know it really well, but if the main vocal track was suddenly taken away, you might not know all the words as well as you thought? Well, you can guess the rest. I performed a reeeeally interesting version of "Waiting for Life." I am proud to say I created some really inventive lyrics such as "flying as free as a fish with his head in the trees" and "I'm here on the ground with my face in the air and my feet on the field." (I wish I could write the word "proud" in a font that would indicate sarcasm.)
I became a brilliant lyricist that day. But not quite brilliant enough. Even before the last few notes of the song, I was laughing at myself. I shook my head and said something that just amplified my mistake like "I think I might have mixed up a couple of those words." If I remember correctly, the casting director's response was "Something like that."
LESSON: Know every word of every song in your book.
*****Check back soon for more "What NOT to do at an audition" stories!*****