Our guide to mock audition cuts is FINALLY here!
In this post we will talk about good ways to identify possible cuts, plus some tips on how to execute those tiny little snippets.
If you want specific ideas for what the Audition cuts might actually be, you should download our REGION MOCK AUDITION CUT GUIDE, complete with timings and measure numbers of every possible cut AND action items and ideas about what judges will want to hear from every single one.
If we could (legally) we would totally have just chopped up tracks ourselves, we have already done it for our own students’ practice…but we are starving artists and alas, cannot sustain being sued by angry people who don’t want their work repackged and resold. (On that note….if you do purchase the guide, remember that it is for your use, and your use only! Send your friends here to buy one for themselves!)
This guide has practice cuts for every non-Area song. So even if your Region is auditioning something different that the neighboring region, your songs are sure to be on this list!
What are the basics of a good audition cut? While each audition varies, there are definitely things that cuts tend to have in common.
- Length: Judges don’t need long to identify your strengths and weaknesses on a certain song. Added together, you are unlikely to sing an audition longer than 2-3 minutes. This is why there is more flexibility in the number of cuts than in the total length of your audition. As a rule of thumb, we think of it as two 60-45 second cuts or three 45-30 second cuts.
- Preparation: Sure, some people completely blank in the audition room due to nerves, but judges can tell nerves from poor preparation. So we want to hear cuts that take lots of work and dedication beyond listening to the tracks in the car while you drive to school. This also means that you are prepared to begin mid-song and shift quickly between cuts, because you know the inner parts of the song so well.
- Musicianship: We want to hear your musicianship show through and for you to show your ability to make music under very contrived and restricting circumstances. For example, difficult rhythms, changing meters, accidentals and chromatic movement is all great fodder. But so too is a good use of phrase shape and dynamics, so there may be a wide swath of continuous singing with very little editorial indication as to dynamics, so that we can see what you do on your own.
- Vocal Technique: While it maybe not the biggest factor, judges do want to evaluate whether or not your voice can handle the task at hand. If there are runs, we want to hear them. If the sopranos have to both sing a big crescendo up high but in another piece need to float above the staff, we may want to hear both. But we likely won’t pick the highest, biggest, longest note, just to make sure you’re a singer with an operatic future.
- Who is singing: Judges don’t like to wait to get to the juicy stuff. And coordinators probably don’t enjoy picking a different cut for every voice part. So practice everything but maybe don’t focus too long and hard on portions of the piece where one section has a solo and another is resting for pages (or singing aah and ooh…). Look for times when everyone is singing and places where everyone enters in a relatively clear-cut spot.
- The entrance: I personally don’t like it when the hardest thing about a cut is pure trickery, such as a tough entrance, but nothing else about it is difficult. Expect an entrance that is clear-cut, something that helps you to find your pitch with ample time to come in. It will likely NOT be the beginning of a song, that is true, but the beginning of a section, a verse, a rehearsal number? Absolutely!
- A shot at success: Judges LOVE to hear good auditions. If everyone is so good that it is difficult for us to parse out the advancing students from those who don’t, we are actually happy about it, not mad. Nobody in that room wants you to fail, and your region leadership will not purposely choose a cut to “trick” you. Sure, we don’t want to reward people who don’t work hard, so the cuts will be difficult, but those of you who are well prepared should have no problem!
How to conduct a mock audition
You don’t have to have school-sponsored, professionally-led mock auditions in order to get benefit from this type of practice. Get together with your friends and practice “dropping the needle”, meaning, starting the track in the middle somewhere, finding your place, and singing on. If you want to get fancy, notate those places in your score where you think a cut might start with the timing on the track, and play some back-to-back cuts. (Or purchase our guide to make it easy!) Be encouraging to each other, there is no need to be critical. You all learn from your mistakes so quickly that you likely don’t want or need your peers piling on. Practice every aspect of your audition, including the feeling of switching rapidly from song to song. Especially practice singing under circumstances that make you anxious, because you will be! And remember, listening to someone else’s audition is really beneficial, since you can both learn from their mistakes and steal their great ideas!
Happy Practicing! And Check back for our Area Audition guide, coming soon!