Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Quick audition thoughts

Cantilena just had our first round of auditions last night (there are two more weeks of auditions, so you still have a chance to try us out!) This means that today I got to call people and tell them that they were either in or out. I try to do this on the phone, because it just feels like I owe them at least that much.

And I want to say that I LOVE it when people say, "Can you tell me why I didn't get in?" YES! I can! And I really want to! Because I want you to continue to sing, and I want you to have an honest picture of your own voice, and I especially want to give you lots of advice on how to improve, so nothing would make me happier than to tell you why you didn't get in. In a gentle and constructive way, of course. If I just spent 20 minutes discussing your voices with members of my chorus last night, I definitely want to spend 2 minutes today discussing it with you.

So. It might feel awkward, people, and you might want to get away, or get off the phone as soon as possible, but please, ask me why you didn't get in! I will tell you. And honestly, I think it usually makes people feel better. The truth will not hurt as much as your own imagination.

This is on my mind because all the people I had to turn down today asked this question, and I thought it was very excellent and brave of them.


  1. Can you post some of the kinds of things you would say, or maybe some that you would never say?

    I agree that it's awesome that people would be open to asking, and trusting your answer--it speaks well for the experience you're giving them, however briefly.

  2. Hi Carolyn,

    Well, I would never say "stop singing" or "don't sing"! I would always try to suggest places that they could keep singing.

    And I almost always tell people to get voice lessons. I think people don't realize you can just have one or two lessons and it can make a big difference; one doesn't need to commit for a year to get value out of a voice lesson experience.

    Apart from that, I try to be honest, and tell them that their tuning, or tone, or vocal production, or sight-reading, or pitch-matching, or whatever it is needed work, and suggest ways to do this. (Although usually advice for anything boils down to: "Keep singing, preferably in a chorus, and get a voice lesson.") Lots of people come in and tell me they haven't sung in 10-20 years, and often they just need to get back into vocal shape before we could consider admitting them.