I’m easing back into work this week, feeling fairly disoriented for reasons good and bad. But today’s topic is pretty straight-forward, so I’m in luck.
We get a lot of questions about protocol inside the audition room, and we’ll take a look at this topic later this week. For now, though, spare a moment to think about what happens outside that audition room door.
Singers don’t overtly try to get inside each others’ heads the way professional athletes do, but there are mind games outside the room. Most artists are fair-minded and collegial, but you will inevitably meet people in the waiting room who think it’s in their best interest to undermine the confidence of the competition. Or perhaps it’s not even that deliberate – it’s possible that they’re just trying desperately to boost their own confidence.
Whatever the reason, if a singer in the waiting area is spouting off in a way that intimidates or unnerves you, figure out a way to silence the noise immediately. If it’s possible to leave his/her vicinity and wait in another area, do so. If you must stay there, tune into your iPod or your computer. Or engage yourself in quiet conversation of a positive or neutral nature with someone else. Do not let these strutting peacocks make you think any less of yourself.
Develop one. Don’t leave any distracting details to chance.
Get the packing of your clothes and your music down to a science. Be sure you have worn your audition clothes (including shoes!) before and are supremely comfortable in them.
Don’t be surprised to find no warm-up rooms. We all do our best, but in most cities, the spaces we rent simply don’t have warm-up space available. Develop a strategy (singing in the car, humming in the elevator, whatever it takes), for although this scenario is unfortunate, it’s not uncommon.
Give yourself as much time as possible to get there, and have a plan for what you will do with the extra waiting time you will have if you’re lucky. (Don’t use it to worry; be thoughtful about what will relax and prepare you, whether it’s listening to music, reading, doing sudoku or stretching.)
And know what degree and kind of conversation you can indulge in without losing your focus. Chit-chatting calms some folks and enervates others.
You Never Know Who’s Listening
Please, whatever you do or say should play itself out as if the panel themselves were out there in the waiting room with you. Because very often, the innocuous-looking person who checks you in is closely affiliated with the company for which you’re about to sing.
If you distinguish yourself in a negative way in that environment, don’t be surprised if your shenanigans become part of the break-time conversation with the panel. We’re not needlessly gossiping, nor are we putting you through some sort of test. But if we’re considering working with you for a production or a season, it’s reasonable that we would be interested in your general level of integrity and professionalism – even when you think no one is looking.
As an urban school teacher (my day job), I'm fond of telling my students "Do the right thing…even when nobody is looking." I guess it's good for adults to be reminded as well :)