Virtual Audition Tips

February 9, 2021

Virtual Audition Tips by Ahlanna Russell

Hi there! I’m Ahlanna Russell and I’m currently a senior at Thomas R. Proctor High School. Throughout the pandemic, I’ve been preparing for musical theatre and vocal performance college auditions. The format of these auditions obviously looks different from what it has been normally. However, I was still looking forward to sharing the hard work I’ve been doing during lockdown. Since most, if not all auditions are held on a virtual platform right now, I wanted to share a little bit about my process so far and give my top 5 helpful tips for zoom auditions/or self tapes!

Tip #1
Prepare your material. This might be a pretty obvious one but it’s still important to mention. Preparing your material is the only thing you’re in control of when auditioning. You can’t predict the outcome of these auditions, you can’t tell what the auditors are thinking, and you can’t worry about the talent level of your competition. The only thing you can do is be secure in your material. Knowing the fact that you’re prepared and you’ve put everything you possibly can into your material will pay off. Everyone in the room will see that.

Tip #2
Invest in some good technology. Since there’s so many things that could go wrong with virtual auditions, I really wanted to make sure I had the necessary equipment. The equipment I’m about to list goes for self tapes as well. Get a good ring light tripod or a regular ring light. You can find these on amazon for pretty cheap. (I have the Ubeezie ring light tripod) Make sure whatever device you’re auditioning/filming on has a good quality camera/mic. I use my MacBook Air but I’ve also used my iPhone, and I know many people who audition off their iPads as well. Try to get an external USB mic. My USB mic has been an absolute lifesaver. Sometimes zoom or just regular video recordings can distort sound. Especially for my fellow sopranos, zoom does NOT like high notes so the only way my voice will carry is with an external mic! I use the Apogee MiC Plus off of amazon. A lot of people also use a Blue Yeti Mic. Get a good speaker. Since not many people are auditioning with live accompaniment through zoom, having a good speaker will definitely come in handy. I use the Sony portable SRS-XB12 speaker! Get a personal steamer. This isn’t really technology but it’s been a life saver. I always steam before I sing and it’s actually made a difference. Many people use Vicks personal steamer which is great and I use the cordless Mypurmist steamer and I love it!

Tip #3
Have backup material/piano tracks prepared. You never know what an auditor can ask for, so it’s always important to prepare other pieces. I’ve been asked to sing pop a lot. Since theatre is going down the road of contemporary work, asking for pop is very common now. I used my favorite Beyonce song and it’s worked really well for me. The standard requirements for college MT auditions is 32 bars of a ballad and uptempo. One has to be golden age the other has to be contemporary. Most people do a golden age ballad and contemporary uptempo, including myself. However, some schools are flexible and may let you sing 2 contemporary songs. I’ve sung my contemporary uptempo and Beyonce for all my auditions so far. I’ve done 6 auditions as of right now and haven’t been asked for my golden age yet. Again, that’s just my personal experience. In addition to my main 2 songs, I have a contemporary ballad from Jagged Little Pill and my pop song. Make sure to include songs you can sing without any extra practice in your rep book in case! As far as monologues go, always have a contemporary dramatic, contemporary comedic, and then a classical monologue prepared. (This goes for college auditions specifically).

Tip #4
A lot of people ask me where I look when self taping/auditioning on zoom. It can be a little awkward staring into a strangers’ eyes through zoom. So I put a piece of tape or a sticky note behind my computer, just slightly above and to the side. You can put it on a wall in front of you or just any object that lines up with where you want to look. Some people look straight forward but I always did slightly to the side because it feels more natural to me. Try not to look directly in the camera when filming auditions/prescreens and when you’re live auditioning. A lot of auditors find it pretty uncomfortable. (This was something I found out this year as well).

Tip #5
Take some time to journal. I’ve found journaling extremely effective for my college audition process. I’m not going to sugar coat it, this process is hard, it’s incredibly draining, it can be discouraging, and frustrating especially during the time we’re in right now. However, it’s important to remember why you’re doing this. You wouldn’t have put the time into this process if you didn’t love performing. After every audition, I journal. I write about how I felt about the auditors in my room, how I felt about my performance, what material I presented, any questions they asked me etc. Then I rate the experience out of 5 stars. This has been helpful for me currently and it’ll be helpful for me to look back on when I start making final decisions.

I hope you found this helpful and if you have any questions feel free to contact me via Facebook (Ahlanna Russell) or Instagram (Lannaarx). I’m happy to help and go into depth about my experience thus far. Break legs!


Here is a video of Ahlanna during Broadway Utica’s Holiday Talent Showcase

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