How to Succeed
at an American Idol Audition
by Kristina Seleshanko
Each year, millions of American Idol viewers watch with horror as wanna-be after wanna-be proclaims him- or herself the worldís greatest singer...then ends up sounding like theyíve never sung a day before in their life. Donít be one of those wanna-bes! If you follow the tips here, I guarantee the judges wonít laugh, snicker, or roll their eyes at you.
And what works for an American Idol audition really works for any type of audition, so even if you donít want to be the next Carrie Underwood, this tip sheet will be useful to you.
What You MUST Know:
* Understand that dues must be paid. A complete novice has never won on American Idol. Youíve gotta put in the time and effort to succeed first in other areas of the public arena. Why? Because otherwise, once youíre on TV, youíll look like the utter novice that you are.
* Preparation is key. Choose an appropriate song Ė well in advance. Practice it. Perfect it. Know it backwards and forwards. Choose the most outstanding part of the song for your audition. Not a few minutes before you step through the audition door, either. At least a few weeks in advance.
* Study. No matter how talented you are, you can benefit from lessons from a good voice teacher or coach. Donít make the excuse that you canít afford lessons. You canít afford not to take lessons.
* Material matters. Choose an appropriate song. A comedy tune, a Broadway belter, a folk tune...none of these are good choices for American Idol. Show the judges that you know how to sing the type of material theyíre looking for.
* Looks matter. Take the time to groom yourself and dress in an attractive manner.
* Gimmicks donít work. Dressing like Uncle Sam only makes the judges think you must sound awful. Otherwise, youíd let your voice wow them, not your clothes. The same goes for almost any other attempt to make yourself stand out by looking ďdifferent.Ē
* Nerves are not an excuse. Professional singers must perform well under a variety of nerve-wracking circumstances. Learn to sing well despite nervousness, and never say ďIím so nervousĒ when youíre told you didnít sing well.
* Donít try to sound like someone else. Even if youíre very talented, trying to sing like another famous singer just makes you a second-rate imitation. So sing like yourself. (This is not to say your singing canít be inspired by singer X, Y, or Z. But you must always include more of yourself in your style than you do of some other singer.)
* Donít choose a signature song. Be careful when choosing a widely popular song thatís strongly associated with a particular singer. When people hear that song, they hear the original version in their heads. More often than not, they will think your version is somehow lacking. Itís very, very difficult to ďoutdoĒ the original singer on a signature song. You donít need this obstacle when trying to win over judges!
* Itís nobodyís fault but your own. If you do poorly Ė either by your own standards, or by the judgesí Ė donít make excuses. And donít blame everyone (or anything) but yourself. If you didnít meet the judgeís expectations, youíre at fault. Nobody else. So be blue for an hour or two, and then get to work on making yourself a better singer!
More Tips for Success:
* Prepare. Choose your song carefully by singing a handful of tunes into a tape- or digital recorder. (Fancy equipment isnít needed.) Listen to the recording and choose the song that shows off your voice the best. Then rehearse it. Record yourself periodically so you can discover new ways to make the song sound even better. Also try video taping yourself so you really know what you look like when youíre singing.
* Rehearse some more. And some more.
* Donít use a song that you canít sing well every time you sing it. Auditions are stressful, and if youíre singing a song thatís very difficult, youíre bound to mess up.
* Perform as often as possible and in as many venues as possible. Perform in front of large crowds, small crowds, your friends, and your relatives.
* Audition frequently. Audition for as many things as you can: Choirs, musical theatre, etc. Auditioning frequently will help you be less nervous at your American Idol audition.
* Learn good singing technique. Contrary to what some people think, this doesnít mean you need to sound like an opera singer. But learning even the basics of how to sing healthfully will not only make you sound better, it will prevent you from suddenly getting a sore throat (not caused by illness) in the middle of the competition.