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4 Mistakes to Avoid at Pop/Rock Auditions

March 31, 2016


In 2010, I got to spend some time observing a ton of pop/rock auditions and saw how auditioners were “showing up” in the room. I shared many of them in my book, “Rock the Audition.” Six years later, I went back into the room to see if anything I shared reached people and “stuck.” First, I’m giving a shout out to anyone who really read it or studied with me, because it showed!

But here are some mistakes I still saw:


1. Women showed up in five-inch high heels and little cocktail dresses—for a pop/rock audition!


2. We were screamed at over and over with angry rock tunes. At one of the auditions we found ourselves joking and saying, “Why you mad?” Anger is not an emotion. It is a way to protect our emotions when we feel unsafe. It’s belligerent and it can’t heal and turn into anything. Also, the two shows that were casting do not have anger in them. They have, in their emotional stories, joy, struggle,  hope, fear—what I call “mixed feelings.” So…why you mad? 


3. Most upsetting: People did not communicate the feel of their songs to the accompanist. At one audition, the casting director was so cool they had me go into the waiting room and teach the performers waiting there how to communicate their songs so there were better results in the room. It helped! But I can’t be at your auditions, people! I’m busy with Rock the Performance!


4. Many actors chose songs that we consider low-hanging fruit. These are songs that are old, overdone, that show us how high and loud you sing, not how dynamic and special you are. Choosing a song like this also shows us that you don’t listen to popular music at all, ’cause if you did, you’d sing something better for sure. If you think your song is low-hanging fruit, it most likely is and you can learn a new song in two days. It’s a pop tune!We were so clear about what we wanted to see, and it was the same thing across the board.

We wanted to see you.

Bring in a song that you love to sing, that can take us into the world of the show. Look up the show you are auditioning for as well and ask yourself, “What’s the vibe?”


Practice communicating the feel of this vibe in your song before you get to the audition. Your relationship with the accompanists is the most important relationship in the room, and it needs to be treated with more regard. Dress like a human being. Wear clothes you would wear to a second date. Cool and casual, like nice jeans with flats or boots. Be you. What’s your vibe? This is an opportunity for you to express the flavors, textures, and colors of your feelings. This is how we know you. This is how you get cast. Let us see you. There is a whole world of incredible music out there to audition with. Go find it learn how to communicate it, both to an accompanist and as an emotional person, and have fun sharing!

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