So, you’re looking to form a band, a choral group, find back up singers, or a back up band? There are a few clear steps to follow that will help you make the wisest choice for selecting the best.
One of the biggest challenges is looking past the quick fix the impulse to go with whoever jumps out first. If you want to cultivate a strong, lasting creative relationship you need to factor in elements beyond getting the best sound. If getting the killer sound is all that matters, you’ll be able to sort through the following and know which corners to cut. But those jagged edges left behind can wound you in the long run.
The first thing to do is find the ideal location to hold your audition. That location also includes having the equipment you need such as amps, leads, microphones and an accompanist on hand to play any specific material if required. You can certainly work around the latter by requesting in advanced a specific piece that you want those auditioning to perform.
It’s a great idea to suggest a simple set of lyrics, just a verse and chorus, and have them come in with their own take on it. This gives you more information on their adaptability, interpretive skills and creative chops. You can then offer feedback and see how they respond. Since this is someone you want to work with in the long run, getting a sense of artistic temperament in vital to the role you are seeking to have filled.
Get The Word Out
Once you have a space and equipment lined up, post your audition in local schools and colleges where there are music departments, churches and other places of worship, music stores, live music venues, coffee shops – any place that the people or person you’ll looking for might frequent. Take out ads in your local paper and spread the word through any musicians you know.
In your ad, if possible, give information on any places you have upcoming appearance or arrange a backyard party-showcase so that those interested get a sense of where you are coming from.
Request a CD or tape in your ad, along with a self-addressed, stamped mailer. Mention the style or styles you are looking for. State that the music sent to you doesn’t have to reflect or support your style request, but that they are expected to adapt. Give your mailing address and set a deadline for receipt of the CD or tape. Let those interested know they will be contacted.
List the official date of the in-person audition. Let them know the CD or tape is the first round in your search. You can mention if those interested don’t have a CD or tape, they are welcome to call to set up an audition slot, one week before the official audition date.
It’s All Behind The Screening
This sounds like a lot of work for those auditioning. It is. But it also tells them that you’re serious and professional. It will help you weed out those that aren’t willing to take the time to go through round one. Again, you’re seeking a long-term relationship. You want people who are committed and hang in there. You also want to be open to finding some fresh talent that is adaptable. So allow for those who don’t have a tape or CD, if you choose.
Another reason for this first round is to simply listen and respond to what grabs you without any imagery or outside influences other than what engages or inspires your heart and imagination. This will also help you dismiss what is wrong for you or just not good enough. Make sure you send back the CD’s and tapes of those rejected. Be professional and honor your commitment.
Contact those you want to hear and set up times along with those who did not have tapes or CD’s but still wish to audition. In order to help you screen those who call you, have a list of five questions in advance that you would want the person or people you’re searching for to answer. You know what is most important to you.
These questions are strictly up to you. You might ask, why don’t you have any CD or tape samples of your voice or music? You could ask what is an ideal rehearsal schedule? What excites you about performing? Do you have a day job or night job or weekend job that might prevent you from playing out? Are you expecting to make a lot of money doing this right now? Again, the choice of questions is up to you.
Give all of those who will be auditioning the simple set of lyrics that you want them to perform however they choose at the audition. Ask them to be prepared to perform an upbeat piece and a ballad.
Back Up Screening
On the day of the audition have someone you know and trust mingle with people who are warming up. Have them pose (as best they can) as someone who is auditioning or waiting for a friend (just hanging). The only reason I suggest this is that you want to get a good read on the off-stage personalities of those you’re considering. Trust me – that personality can be very different from the performer.
Remember, the offstage individual is the person you will have to work with for many more hours than your off-stage time. When directing for theatre I would walk around where everyone gathered for an open call. My stage manager would appear to be the director. I’d get a read on problem behaviors and attitudes. You don’t have time for these. Let someone you trust and who knows you well be your eyes and ears to help screen for behavior issues.
This can be further accomplished by any questions you ask those auditioning and by responses you get to any feedback given by you.
Get With It For The Long Haul
This isn’t just a one night stand on a corner stage. It’s a run for the road that rises. You want you gifts to be embraced and cultivated by kindred spirits. A thorough audition process with several layers of screening will help you find that talented, dedicated individual that’s the best fit for growth and success.
When it comes time for you to audition review the steps suggested and align your gifts for giving your best, being true to yourself, and making a strong, positive impression.