Mark Madama has been on the musical theatre faculty at the University of Michigan for the past 14 years and is a coach on Acceptd’s new online coaching service.
Congratulations to everyone for advancing this far in your college application process. You've finished your pre-screens (or will soon) and now it’s time to start your college auditions.
Each year I have the opportunity of watching hundreds of high school students audition for the University of Michigan’s Musical Theatre Department. Every year I notice a stronger technique from the students and a greater handle on how to effectively present their abilities to the panel.
Here are some suggestions that hopefully will allow you to concentrate on your audition and not the distractions around you.
- With both songs and monologues, unless specifically stated, you should feel free to use the same ones that you used in your pre-screens. After all, they got you this far.
- Be prepared and flexible. Know your material thoroughly. If you are asked to make adjustments, accomplishing these adjustments successfully will then be much easier. Although you may never know the reason for these adjustments be flexible and embrace any direction given to you.
- Choose songs that sit comfortably in your voice. Don’t try to impress with higher or louder notes than you are capable of easily singing. Remember you’re going to be nervous, and your margin of error increases when you are pushing yourself past your abilities.
- Choose monologues that are age appropriate. A good way of judging this is to find a play with a monologue spoken by a character that you could potentially play. If you are uncomfortable with the language or subject matter of your monologue I would suggest staying away from this monologue. Honesty always trumps edgy when making a first impression.
- Follow the audition instructions on each school’s website. All schools have different guidelines. Follow the posted time limits and genres for all songs and monologues.
- Many schools have a list of overly used songs on their website that they recommend avoiding. Please pay close attention to that list. You can feel comfortable using any song not listed if it sounds best in your voice.
- Dress to make a good first impression. Keep your clothes simple. You don’t want your dress, shirt, or jewelry getting more attention than your performance. Again feel free to wear the same clothes as in your prescreen, unless you did you video in 80-degree weather and are now auditioning in the dead of winter. Then let the weather dictate your clothing.
- Find your focus. Put the person you are talking to in your song or monologue slightly over the head of whoever is behind the audition table.
- If you are singing a song accompanied by a piano as opposed to prerecorded music make sure your sheet music is neatly prepared so it will be easy to read. Well-prepared music is one element you have control over in your audition, so use it to your advantage. By knowing what exactly you are going to hear, you will be able to concentrate better on your audition.
It is the well-prepared students who feel good about their material and comfortably present themselves entering the room, answering questions, and performing their work, who give the most successful auditions!
After the audition, do not try to second-guess what just happened in the audition room or what the panel thought of you. If there was a problem with your audition go home and fix that problem for your next audition, but this audition is over. There is a very good chance they never noticed what didn’t go as planned, and if they did, audition panels are very forgiving.
Lastly, go out and celebrate every audition. Your audition is over, and you’re still around to talk about it. That’s a huge accomplishment of which you should be very proud. It’s time now for you to reward yourself.
Have fun and good luck!
Faculty, University of Michigan
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