We’ve shared advice on selecting the right audition material, which is a critical part of any audition, but the next step, once you’ve found that perfect piece is how to make it your own and nail your audition. If you would like the inside scoop on how to make your video a standout, meet Songbook Academy Musical Director and Coach, Beckie Menzie.
Meet Your Audition Performance Mentor
The Songbook Academy® is the only summer music intensive that is dedicated to the “Golden Age of American Song”- Broadway and movie musicals, jazz, and standards written between approximately 1920 and 1960. High school singers with an interest in the Great American Songbook may apply for the program by submitting video recordings of two contrasting selections from the Great American Songbook.
Every applicant receives written feedback on their video submissions from a panel of nationally recognized experts. Forty students are invited to Carmel, Indiana, for a week-long intensive with leading theatre professionals, GRAMMY-nominated recording artists, and top university professors from around the country.
The Songbook Academy introduced Acceptd to one of these professionals, Beckie Menzie, who has appeared in New York at the legendary Carnegie Hall, Jazz At Lincoln Center and Birdland, as well as at Chicago’s Auditorium Theatre and Park West, and at concert halls and arts series across the country. She has been featured at many Mabel Mercer Cabaret Conventions, as well as performances for the Chicago Humanities Festival, where she has served as a performer, director and musical director. She is an artistic associate at Porchlight Music Theatre and is an award winning songwriter who coaches Chicago’s young musical talent. Beckie has some valuable advice for making your audition video performance a stand-out.
How to Nail Your Songbook Academy Audition: Be YOU!
Great artists are people who find the way to be themselves in their art. Any sort of pretension induces mediocrity in art and life alike. Margot Fonteyn
The songs we are inviting you to sing are standards. YOU are what makes them unique.
Becky is a pretty standard name, but the way I spell my name- B.E.C.K.I.E- is unique, like ME!
So, using the letters that make my name distinct, as an acronym, I offer you some helpful advice for what YOU can do to make the most of your Songbook Academy audition video performance.
B: Be you
Be the best YOU. Avoid copying or mimicking Judy Garland or Sinatra recordings. Your audience is really hoping to get a sense of who you are, what you have to share, your voice. While there is no one else like Garland, there is no one else like you either.
One of the ways to help communicate the lyric is through facial and body expressions. You make me feel so young (maybe I haven’t felt young in a bit, so I convey surprise or sarcasm ) ….Involve and energize your body.
C: Convey the lyric
Embrace Me, my sweet embraceable you... This is an “I want” song. I’m as restless as a willow in a windstorm. I’m as giddy as a baby on a swing…these are from an “I am” song. Many songs have an "I want" or an "I am.” Convey the feeling of the lyrics and involve your body language, but be really careful not to use empty gestures. This way, when you do gesture, you can touch your audience’s hearts and invite them in.
I need to get a t-shirt that says, “The key is EVERYTHING!” Sheet music comes in one key. but it might not be the best key for you. Your teachers, coaches, and mentors can help you find out which key is best for your voice. While your vocal range is a huge factor in choosing a key, you may want to consider the style and how you want to “act” the song. Let’s say the song is conversational, well, then you might want a lower key to sound less singer-ly. If the song has long beautiful extended phrases, you may want a slightly higher key. Once you’ve determined the appropriate key for you, then go back to a place like musicnotes.com and get the music in your key.
Know your lyrics. When you use a music stand or look away at lyrics, it takes you away from connecting with us. Don't be afraid of the camera or us, your auditioners, your audience. We actually want to see you and to love you!
E: Emotional connection
You may love a recording of the Gershwin song "Love For Sale,” but is this an age-appropriate song for you? Be realistic about whether you are ready to sing a song and make the emotional connection required. Have you been betrayed by a partner? I really hope not! So, is "Cry Me A River" the right choice? Probably not. Maybe it is. Just remember that if you have experienced some of the feelings that your song calls for, your performance will feel more authentic.
When I realized my first 2 initials of both my first and last names spelled out Be Me, I decided to make BeMe my business name, because nothing is more exciting than seeing someone bring themselves to the game. Bring your best to your video audition performance, but realize that your talent is continuously evolving. Wait until you experience just how much better your best can get! There is no experience like the week at the Songbook Academy. This is an amazing opportunity for growth and learning.
We don't need or even want you to be perfect. We want you to be perfectly you.
I look forward to enjoying your video audition and hopefully welcoming you to the week of your life at the Songbook Academy summer intensive.
To learn more about the Songbook Academy, click here to visit the program’s Acceptd profile.
All my best,