Audition Tips For Singers over Forty

The following audition tips for singers are a little different from what you will often read.

I am responding to a question from a reader of my ¨HOT VOCAL TIPS FOR SMART SINGERS¨ Newsletter.

Ben Caroccio is a long-time singer who wrote to say that he had created a video demo for an audition set up by FOX news:

"The Local FOX news channel has put out a "Local audition" for those in Houston. If you win this, they will provide free hotel accommodations and give you a free pass - no waiting in line to audition before the Dallas X-Factor audition producers and judges like Simon Cowell, etc. - on July, 25-26th."

Then he wrote to me:

"Judging (auditions), as you know can be very preferential and subjective."Daring to try, to do it or die - I've gotta be me." Music is what I am all about. If I make it to the Simon (Cowell) audition, I'm thinking, I am 62 - I look young for my age, but the stress they put these people through... I was the local singing wonder of Cleveland, Ohio in the 70s and paid many dues in the clubs praying someone would find me and launch a singing career. I'm sure you are younger than I am.
Question: would you be willing to put yourself through this? Would they treat me like more of an oddity than a potential winner? Your thoughts?"

HERE IS MY RESPONSE TO BEN... (Along with audition tips for singers who are no longer in their twenties or thirties.)
(My photo on the right was taken by Andy Gural.)

First of all, I agree that these kinds of auditions bring on a different variety of stress than younger singers must endure.

Older singers, especially those who have been in the singing game for a long time, can begin to feel unworthy. They may secretly think: "I still have not made it after all these years... I'm not good enough."
They may persist in seeking out opportunities to show what they can do, but often feel that nothing will ever work out. They continue because they cannot stop trying. They become professional auditioners.

I think that judges can pick up on that energy and use it against them.

So the first of my audition tips for singers would be:
1. Find genuine, (that is, “believable”), ways to shore up your confidence. Understand that you walk into the audition with a richness of experience that most younger singers cannot hope to equal. Be sure that you have learned how to allow that emotional depth to shine through your songs. And choose songs that allow you to show these strong abilities.

Older singers may also feel that the younger singers will laugh at their efforts; that they will be ridiculed and seen as “has beens.”
This is also a real possibility. Young people can be quite brutal. (They’ve witnessed lots of mean-spirited talk from Simon Cowell himself.)
But so what?
Ask yourself if YOU could see the value in what older people had to offer when you were a teenager or twenty-something. Not likely. But you have lived to know better. (And so has the viewing audience.)

Audiences who watch these shows tend to be a diverse bunch. Some of them are older, too. And they seem to derive great pleasure from seeing an unlikely person step up to the audition plate and bowl them over.

Judges know this. They have lived through the success of Susan Boyle and Paul Potts. By now, they must be tuned in to the possibility that an older singer – with a certain something - COULD win the day.

Older singers also have less fragile egos. They know that if they do not win this audition – life will still go on. They have families to return to. And likely, another job. This strength can help them, in the long run, to sustain confidence, while a younger singer may shrivel.

Also, the more mature singer is more likely to be clued-in to what the commentary of judges “really” means. Sometimes, if not often, judges are speaking more to the (future) TV camera than to the singer. You can’t take the commentary too seriously. What you can do is this:
(The second of my audition tips for singers) –

2. Prepare like mad (and joyfully) for your audition. Sing your songs for friends, relatives, and other groups of people. Get some good coaching to experiment with new ideas and/or to let go of old, stale habits.
Make your audition preparation a wonderful, creative journey. So that win or lose, you are always improving your abilities.

Keep in mind that the population is aging. Older viewers will also want to see, enjoy and be comforted by or entertained by people closer to their own age.

3. Third and final of the my audition tips for singers... There is lots of “room” for the older singer to shine and soar. So by all means get out there and sing!

If you would like to make a comment on some aspect of this article or write about your own experience, you can do that here:
Comments and Stories - Singing After Forty.


P.S. (A rather long one...)

Finally, Ben, in answer to your question to me… “Would you be willing to put yourself through this?”

My short answer is, “No.”

But then, I decided many years ago, before I was an older singer, that I would not do auditions. I wanted to go my own way – write and sing music that expressed what I was living and learning on my unique life journey.

I decided also NOT to compete. For me, singing was not about being the best, but about sharing deep feelings and intriguing ideas. I have always worked on improving my technique and my ability to penetrate a song so that I can sing with clarity and power for an audience. But my motivation was not primarily to be better than others. It was (and is), to continually become more expressive.

When my students perform or audition, I often suggest to them that they aim to be fully “EXpressive” rather than only, “IMpressive.”

I try always to keep in mind one of my favorite sayings: “The present is the point of power!”
In other words, NOW is the only time you have. And NOW is the time to become what you want to be. So if you want to sing… you have both the right and the power to do it now!

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