5 Tips to Find the Perfect Drama School Audition Song

by | Jun 24, 2024 | 0 comments

Preparing for auditions at competitive UK drama schools and conservatoires requires a large amount of attention to every detail. For this blog, the detail we are looking at in particular is the selection of the ideal audition song, or indeed song’s’

Having sat on panels at numerous schools for hundreds of auditions, there are numerous tips I could offer however the themes can boil down in to these 5 tips for choosing your audition songs. 

1. Self-Awareness is Key

Understanding your own vocal strengths, stylistic preferences, and your strengths as a performer lays the foundation for selecting the best audition material. One of the best bits of advice I repeatedly hear from signing teachers is ‘sing for the voice you have now, not the voice you want’. If you love a song but struggle at the highest point, find a different song (there are plenty!). Likewise, if you struggle with nerves, choosing a song you can nail ‘on a good day’ is a risk as nerves mean an audition is rarely a good day. Give yourself the best chance for success. From our perspective, an audition isn’t just about the high notes, so take the pressure off!

2. Do your research 

Invest time in to finding the right material for your audition songs. There is a real difference between someone who has potentially just picked a song they like, or a song their singing teacher has handed to them, versus someone who has put in the time to really find the best sing for their skills and their personality. Likewise, when you have selected a song, do the detailed work to ensure you know the story and given circumstances of the number, so if you are asked any questions about the material, it becomes a two-way conversation (much like a rehearsal) rather than a test. 

3. Don’t try to be TOO original

While the temptation to stand out by showcasing a unique or lesser-known song may be tempting, you should exercise caution when deviating from familiar musical theatre repertoire. Opting for excessively obscure or unconventional selections risks unintended consequences, such as accompanist errors or taking the panel’s attention from your talents. Songs with established recognition can make for a smoother audition experience and allows the focus to remain squarely on you performance prowess rather than on the novelty of the song. 

4. Don’t forget you’ll have to act!

Remember, you are auditioning for a Musical Theatre or an Acting programme, it’s not just about the voice. A fantastic vocal audition is wonderful but without an awareness of the character, the given circumstances, the stakes or the journey of the song, the performance will only go so far. When you’re choosing your audition songs, ask yourself if the story excites you? Do you have a clear vision of what the performance should look like? 

5. Avoid character voiced songs

I love Avenue Q as much as the next guy, but please don’t bring a puppet voice to your audition material. The audition panel wants to hear YOUR voice so pick material that best showcases that. Sometimes I do get asked about accents, I think that’s really up to the performer and what makes the most sense for your material, however, strong vocal ‘character styling’ such as a very high placed, nasal quality for Adelaide in Adelaide’s Lament actually gets in the way of a panels ability to judge what your instrument can naturally do. 

My last piece(s)of advice on song selection, taking all of the above tips in to account, is don’t overthink it too much. There’s a myth that goes around saying ‘don’t sing overdone songs’ and whilst yes, singing an iconic Musical Theatre song could lead to a challenge of comparison, if someone walked in to my audition room and delivered the most fantastic version of On My Own, despite having heard the song more times than I can count, I would never hold that against someone as a reason not to offer a place if they were fantastic. Consider your job as one of crafting the best possible performance that showcases where you are at in your development as an artist right now and that will set you on the path to success! 


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