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Speech 101
Singing Auditions: Picking the right song
| Friday, 01.05.2018, 10:00 AM |   (38829 views)

Singing Auditions:  Picking the right song

By Ginny Kopf, Voice and Speech trainer


            A singing audition or showcase, where you have one shot to knock their socks off, is a slippery slope when it comes to song choice.  Any episode of “American Idol” will tell you that song choice can make you or break you.  Here are some tips I give my singing students, so they “wow” the judges, AND so you feel like you’ve really showed off your best talent.


1.  Pick a song in your range.

            Know your range, and don’t pick a song so low or so high that you can’t hit      

            it, or in a range you can’t deliver with power and passion.

2.  Pick a song with wide range. 

            The flip side to #1 is:  don’t play it too safe with your “comfort zone” range.    

            You simply have to show off some wide range—high highs and low lows.         

            Again, “American Idol” set this bar very high for us all.  If those contestants             don’t use wide range, they are slam-dunked for “playing it too safe.”  Plus,       

            modern Broadway singing has also set the bar high.  Gone are the days of

            soprano solos, alto solos, tenors, basses.  Contemporary Broadway, like   

            Wicked or Rent, doesn’t have “sopranos” or “tenors” per se—they have   

            Singers with incredible ranges.  And they are able to belt OR be soft

            in every range.

3.  Pick a song that opens up to your brightest, fullest, best (usually belted”) range SOON. 

            If it takes too long (like an entire verse) we’re bored.

4.  Pick a song that isn’t so soft at the beginning. 

            You have to impress them early on—within the first 10 seconds.  If the    

            song does start low and soft, then sing it just a bit louder than you would if       

            it was part of a concert, or part of an entire musical.  And give it immediate             passion and expression.  There’s no doubt the bright part of the song (the

            “belt” that’s right from the heart and soul) will grab them, so if it’s not bright             and loud, at least make it passionate.

5.  Pick a song that gives you opportunity to show off some variety.

            You want to show them a variety of volume levels—not the whole song   

            pushed and loud.  Nor a song all in a Nora Jones breathiness.  You want   

            variety in textures and even styles, all within one piece.  Have a breathy  

            part, a bright part, a gravelly part, a little riff, a slide, parts will held-out

            notes.   It has to be organic to the piece, of course.  You may need a         

            coach’s help getting this variety.    

6.  Pick a song that has one long, held out, beautiful note.

            “American Idol” is again responsible for making this an expected feature of     a solo.  Show them that you can hold out a long, loud note.

7.  Pick a song that enable you to “act” the song.

            Move right away, with a small gesture at least.  And facial expression right      

            off.  Then take a step, at least one, early on when the “character” is             expressing something important.  Don’t spend the entire first verse just   

            standing there or sitting on the edge of the stage.  As the song builds,       

            move a bit—use the stage.  You’ll seem more in confident in your “stage

            presence, more in control and “into” the song if you use the stage.              Standing in one spot makes you seem unsure, like you don’t have any      

            right to be there.  Take control of the stage.  It’s your moment to shine!


Need some help?  It’s often difficult to know exactly what song WOULD show us off best.  Give me a call.  I can also show you how to get comfortable with your movements so you have the best stage presence—so you’ll feel and look like the next Broadway star or the next “American Idol.”


Ginny Kopf







Ginny Knopf

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