Your Audition Book: Pull It Together!

I hear it a lot:  "I love the music you gave me, but what the heck am I supposed to do with it??" The following is meant to help you stay organized and make a great impression at auditions.   Not all of the directives below apply to all students; younger kids won't have as many songs, for example, but everyone should have a table of contents.  And yes, it will change from time to time, but that just means you're growing as a performer!

THE BINDER

  • This binder should be black.  Yes, I am telling you what to do.  You don’t want to walk in the room with anything that will distract from the main event, and that is YOU.  You have a brief time to make a good impression.  A sparkly book with unicorn stickers is distracting; if you’re wearing a beautiful bright blue dress but carrying a red binder it’s instant 4th of July.  Exceptions?  If you're under 14 your book can be any color you like!
  • This binder should be in excellent condition.  No duct tape.  No bent rings that don’t close.  And it has to be a hard binder.  No floppy binders!!
  • This binder should NOT be bigger than 1.5 inches.  I can tell you the stories of me wandering around NYC with a 4-inch binder; it still lives on a shelf in the studio as a reminder.  It should be in the Smithsonian.

THE SHEET MUSIC

Your music should also be in excellent condition.  No ripped pages, no coffee stains. This sounds obvious, but what I see coming into the studio sometimes worries me.  

  • When you go to the library to copy music from a score or selections, set the size to 93%; these books are usually 9x12 format and you need 8.5x11 - when you don’t do this, so often the bottom of the page is cut off and your accompanist needs those notes!
  • If you’re song is two pages, put them in with no page turns; i.e. one on the left and one on the right.   If it’s longer than two pages, it must go in the rings.  Loose pages are dangerous - what if it falls on the floor while the accompanist is playing???
  • Anything in the rings must be arranged with as few page turns as possible, and almost always (except for 2-pagers) that means double-sided!  You can print single-sided and tape them, but do it !!!
  • High schooler seniors: for every cut, please learn the whole song cause you never know!  Have the 8-bar cut, the 16-bar cut and the full song instead of over-marking the one piece.  
  • Plastic sleeves - they’re good for keeping things neat but they often drive accompanists crazy because of glare (I do not speak for all accompanists!  Ask around…) If you use them to keep your music clean (see coffee and me) pull out your selections from the sleeves right before you go in the room.

ORGANIZATION

This is the tough part.  How do you put all of this together in a way that’s accessible and makes sense?  Obviously you will have your first selection ready to go, but what if (heaven forbid) it goes so well that they want to hear more?!! How can you (or for that matter, the accompanist) find a song quickly?  Your music must be organized so that you know what you have and can find it quickly, no matter what they need to hear.

  • Put your headshot on the cover, and have copies of it with your resume in a plastic sleeve in the front.
  • The first page(s) must be a table of contents and a list by genre, based on how you decide to organize the music (see the next bullet point).  This is something the accompanist and maybe even the casting director might look at.  
  • After that, do what makes sense.  You can do it by genre (Contemporary Uptempo, Golden Age or Traditional Ballad, etc…..) or alphabetically by song title.  
  • TABS ARE YOUR FRIENDS.  Write the title on the tab.  Write the category on the tab.  These are tabs you can stick on and peel off and write on.  These are pages with tabs you can print on. 

Do you have to have a separate binder for lessons? It depends.  You can create a repertoire binder that will hold copies of your audition music as well as new songs you're working on; if you feel your audition rep is ready and you don't need to work on it with me, you can always just keep the audition table of contents in your rep book so we have it as a reference.  Younger students probably only need one book.  My college students have an audition book and then at least one rep book.   However you decide to pull it together, do it.