It's All Going To Be Okay
I've found myself coming back to this blog post the night before auditions again, and I have a few important things to add for those of you that find yourself at least a tad nervous/anxious/excited for this week's auditions.
1. Anyone who has told you "DON'T DO A BEYONCE SONG OR A SARA BAREILLES SONG BECAUSE THOSE ARE GROSSMAN'S FAVORITES AND YOU WON'T GET INTO A GROUP" is lying to you. Beyonce songs are hard to sing, sure. Sara Bareilles songs have their advantages and challenges. What matters is what YOU DO WELL!!
2. I did some digging into scores from prior years and found some interesting data that I think is important to share. Two of the top scoring singers in last year's auditions, who both sing with auditioned choirs at North and both sing with Northern Lights, and both have established themselves as musical leaders -- when they auditioned at the end of 8th grade, they had the 35th and 36th lowest scores out of the 40 girls that auditioned that year (In 2017 they were the 4th and 5th highest scores of the 60 girls that auditioned). I literally can not say this enough -- 5 minutes of singing this week does not define you as a singer, musician, or person!!
Okay, that's it. I am so excited to hear you all sing this week! Let's go!
As we're heading into a week of auditions, I know that many of you are feeling a variety of emotions. I found myself thinking about this last night, and thinking back on what it was like auditioning in high school and college. Considering I haven't used this blog in two and a half years, I thought that this might be a good opportunity to write to the ninety students who are going to put themselves out there this week to say: I've been there.
In high school, we only had auditions for theatre, but my friends and I made them count. After callbacks, we'd talk on AOL Instant Messenger (Wikipedia link in case you haven't heard of that) for hours, coming up with different scenarios of how a show would be cast, and of course always including each other in our desired roles -- we couldn't help but recognize the frailty in each other that forced us to keep each other's hopes high. I couldn't sleep those nights, and I would make it a point to be the first person in school, often before the arrival of the principal, to be able to take in a cast list by myself, whether it meant excitement or disappointment.
In college, I stayed awake at night thinking through my auditions for Ithacappella, the IC Choir, and The Hyannis Sound. I spent an entire summer working towards my first Ithacappella audition, learning vocal percussion, practicing sight singing every day, literally doing cardio training to help my breathing, spending hours pouring through my music collection to find the perfect audition song that had my exact range and would show the precise dynamic differences necessary while giving me an opportunity to demonstrate both my chest voice AND falsetto, and then find the right key to do the song in.... you get the idea.
When the day finally came for that audition, I had my song prepared, an entire binder of arrangements to show off what I had been working on for the past year, and the week prior had been spent trying to make connections with people already in the group to show them how cool I was (Please note: I wasn't cool). If any of this sounds like Benji from Pitch Perfect, that's because I literally was him. I got a callback that year, but didn't get in, so I tried out for the mixed a cappella group, went through the whole process and rollercoaster of nerves again, got another callback, and didn't get in. This entire ordeal happened again my sophomore year, getting callbacks for both groups, and not getting in, and at that point I was the only person on the Ithaca College campus who had auditioned for and called back for every group he could at every opportunity he could and never had his name on a list to show for it, except another summer to look forward to of freaking out about auditions again.
All of this is to say, if your past week (or weeks) have been filled with any nervousness, fear, excitement, doubts, confidence, some combination of these or anything else, and especially if you've questioned anything of what you've felt, it's all okay. I've been there, and so have your friends, and anyone you know who performs, plays sports, works a job, or anything. Anything that you are feeling is normal, and comes with the territory of putting yourself and your work out there knowing that you might not get the exact end result that you want.
So my advice:
-A lot of people instinctively think about auditions and all of the moments in which that they might make a mistake. Think about your audition as an opportunity to come in and make music! Try to isolate those 5 minutes as an opportunity to make some noise for a few people and bring some light to their day.
-You don't need to go into an audition with your eyes on one prize. An audition can open up doors for you, no matter what the outcome, if you look for the doors and make the choice to open them. After not getting into Ithacappella as a freshman, I ended up getting involved in student run theatre, where I met the woman who is now my wife. I got interested in teaching music and theatre by working at a local summer camp, which would not have been possible if I got into The Hyannis Sound. There's a world of great opportunities out there, and in singing, you have a plethora right here at North to dive into and see where they take you.
I am so excited to hear each of you sing this week, even if while you're singing, I look like I hate literally everything (apologies in advance for that, it's my thinking/listening face, and it's not very comforting, but I'm working on it). Breathe, relax, come in and have some fun making noises with your face (and all of the other muscles needed in singing).
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Choral Director at Plymouth North High School. A Cappella director, arranger, clinician