Choosing Songs for Auditions

During the course of a singers career, the search for the right songs appropriate for auditions or performance is an ongoing endeavour. The singer will need to change and adapt their repertoire to keep their performances fresh and entertaining.

Generally speaking, there are certain voice types that sound natural within a particular style of music, i.e., Nasal voices – Country Music. Composers often write a vocal part for a voice type, i.e., Soprano or Tenor and certainly many songwriters and music producers have a specific vocal sound in mind when auditioning potential singers for a project. Whilst this can narrow down the options a little, it still leaves the singer a massive range of songs to choose from!

Working with a Singing Teacher, Accompanist or Arranger provides the singer with invaluable feedback on the listener’s perception of how they interpret the song. The majority of vocalists sing for pleasure, in which case the type of music and standard of performance is irrelevant, however, the singer’s age, experience and vocal capability have to be taken into consideration when choosing songs for auditions or professional performances.

Students in training will gradually build up a small repertoire from songs used during their lessons, but as the singer progresses, the voice changes in depth, resonance and expressiveness. This can mean that songs previously beyond the capabilities of the singer become achievable. A light voice can deepen as it matures and a dark tone can be developed to produce a more vibrant sound, whilst this can take years of practice, the changes to the voice can be quite remarkable but cannot be changed beyond the voices natural capabilities or range.

Classical music enthusiasts will be aware that most compositions are required to be performed in the key and style to which they were originally written. This is not so with modern songs, which are often re-arranged and performed in a myriad of tempos and keys to suit the singer’s voice.

There are SO MANY possible songs out there that it would be extremely difficult to make suggestions for particular tracks without knowing anything about your taste, vocal capabilities, interests, etc., however, we have a few suggestions that may help you to pick a setlist packed with great repertoire!

One option is to choose the most polished songs from those that you have worked on over the course of your training. The program should contain a variety of material that ranges in tempo and emotional content.

A unifying theme or idea that is reflected by the tunes you perform provides continuity. A set consisting of 70s songs, a particular style of music or subject is often a popular choice with solo artists and bands alike.

Songs from a particular composerartist, poet, musical show, film or tv theme are all ideas that some singers have packaged quite neatly into an exciting format for their live performances.  Subjects like love, animals, war and the seasons are also areas that you may like to consider. Another option is to choose a style or genre of music.

The content should reflect your vocal capabilities and stage personality. Never include songs that are too complicated for your current vocal range and the ability for a live performance. Always include songs you enjoy, perform well and are comfortable to sing.

The material chosen may also limit the artist depending on whether they perform covers or original songs and which accompaniment is used.  There also needs to be a balance between personal preference and pleasing the audience who are, after all, the people who will decide on whether you are rebooked in their venue.

Of course, there are many fields in which the singer is unable to choose their own repertoire. Choirs, theatrical and operatic plays are examples where the material to be performed has been pre-scored or chosen by the producer/director, who may cut, add or arrange songs to suit their preferred way of presenting the show.

Before arranging an audition, it is worth researching the company’s background to get an overview of the show including the songs performed in productions by other companies. This will provide an insight into the songs you may be required to sing and help you decide whether it’s something you want to be part of.