Maria Solves Your Problems: Back-to-School Audition Tips

This week we’re taking a quick break from letters to focus on some tips for auditioning. It’s back to school time, so I’m in the mood for sharpened #2 pencils, sweaters, and lectures. Below, I’m going to point out some areas that will make you endear yourself to the accompanist/music director.


  • Put your music in a binder. This makes you look so much more professional and really helps you as the auditioner—the last thing you want is your music falling down, leaving your accompanist to scramble to catch the pages while playing with one hand. No one likes that situation, least of all you. A binder can cost as little as a dollar. It’s worth the extra effort, I promise.
  • Mark your start and stop points. I personally am a big fan of the post-it flags, because you can then move those around if you change your cut in the future. Also note any intro you want into your cut (if any).
  • Know your tempo. Look, most music comes with a tempo written in, whether it’s quarter note equals 105 or “allegro” or, in a Laurence O’Keefe song, something along the lines of “Dreamgirls on steroids.” Sometimes I’ll ask the auditioner for a tempo, but often I just look at the music. If you’re taking the song at a different tempo, say something to the accompanist and be able to count or sing a bit at your tempo.
  • Stop and take a deep breath if something goes wrong. This is a little controversial, as some people feel strongly that you should barrel on through, which is more true for professional auditions than amateur. For me, though, if something goes awry in the first few bars (wrong tempo, wrong starting note, etc), I fully believe you should stop and start again. Remember that the production staff wants to see you succeed. Take a deep breath, collect yourself, and give it another shot. But never stop and start twice—you only get one extra chance.
Director Richard Edmonson holds auditions for the Summer Stock play "To Kill a Mockingbird." (Photo via flickr.)

Director Richard Edmonson holds auditions for the Summer Stock play “To Kill a Mockingbird.” (Photo via flickr.)


  • Don’t bring in a weird transposition. I get it — Music Notes can take your song a half step down, allowing you to get that money note. That’s fantastic, but it’s less enjoyable if your accompanist is struggling through a song that is technically in D major but looks like it’s in C## instead.
  • Don’t bring in loose sheets of paper that are out of order. If you for some reason can’t swing a binder, at least tape them together.

Most of all – enjoy yourself! We do theatre because we love it, and that reigns supreme.

Have an audition question for Maria? Submit it here and you could get featured in a future column!

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