Audition Season: The Ins and Outs of the Recording Process
Happy Friday everyone! Another week has flown by and we are nearing the end of another year. With that being said, many of us have just submitted applications for school. Whether you have applied for your Bachelors, Masters, Doctorate or Certificate, congratulations! You’ve made it this far and applications are one of the biggest obstacles to get through in this process. Now, we are all preparing for the start of audition season. These next few months can be grueling, exciting and everything in between! Many of us will continue to practice for hours on end, however, this audition season looks much different than in past years. Of course many of us have prepared recorded auditions before. We know the steps, the requirements, and the frustrations that come with recording. However, it appears as though recorded auditions are the way to go this year. Many schools have opted for either virtual auditions or recorded auditions. Most schools will not be holding in person live auditions. Personally, I enjoy live auditions much more than recorded ones. It is a great experience and there’s a different preparatory process leading into it.
So the question is, how can I make the best of recorded auditions?
There is a lot that goes into recorded auditions, but I think we should break the process down into some smaller parts.
So let’s ask these questions instead:
How do I prepare for recorded auditions?
What and how can I learn the most from preparing for recorded auditions?
Let’s talk about how to prepare first. At this point in our crazy year, it’s somewhat expected that students will have purchased updated recording equipment. For instance, my school provided each student with a $500 technology grant so we could purchase new equipment that would benefit our new schooling experience. First and foremost, definitely invest in good equipment. Some schools also have been willing to send equipment to students who were unable to buy their own. If this applies to you, inquire with your school and ask if they have equipment they can lend out to you for your studies.
Prior to actually recording, make sure you’re familiar with the equipment you’re using; the settings, any DAW (digital audio workshop) software you’re using, and what file types you’ll need to submit. Be sure you confirm if you need audio or video recordings. Being comfortable with the setup and requirements will make for a smooth recording session. This way you will avoid the need to fuss around with settings and equipment adjustments. Just press and go!
In terms of practice, continue to work on your audition materials the same way you would as if you were preparing for a live audition. This includes making your practice schedule, identifying your areas of focus, constantly recording yourself and reflecting, as well as running mock auditions for yourself, with or without friends listening. Your preparation shouldn’t be any different than the typical. For some people, it's possible to get into the mindset of, “it’s recorded and I have multiple attempts to get a perfect tape.” Let's be honest though, we’ve all been in the position where we are recording and recording, and recording, and nothing is going right. We hate everything that we’re doing and we get so frustrated that we decide to record another day. Now, we’ve spent 3 hours trying to get a tape, banging our heads against the wall, and essentially we got nothing.
The secret to recording? Approaching it as if you’re playing a live audition. Oftentimes we don’t prepare the same way. Sometimes we actually prepare less for recorded auditions because we know that we have an unlimited amount of time and takes to get the best recording. We should not think like this! We should approach recorded auditions just like we would a live audition. With live auditions we get one shot to sound great. We have one shot to show the panel who we are as a performer and what we have to offer. We can either blow it or we can succeed and those who succeed are typically the people who have a plan, a firm understanding of their audition preparation and follow a specific regime. With a live audition you prepare as if you have one shot, so why would you not prepare the same way for a recorded audition?
Between last year’s audition season and this year, I’ve seen a huge difference in how I approach audition preparation and how I approach recording. I personally have been able to record good tapes in less time because I now prepare in the same way as I do for live auditions. I run mock auditions for myself, I practice more consistently and have a routine that works for me (see my previous posts about practice routine!). I don’t make these sessions unreasonable. I approach recording the same way. I sit in my chair, I turn the camera on, and I play as if I have one shot to do this. When approached this way, you end up having so many great takes to choose from, rather than having to choose the best of a bunch of mediocre tapes.
In a sense of what and how can I learn the most from recordings, this is a great time to self reflect. Rather than looking at how far you have to go, look at how far you’ve come. These recordings are a reflection of the hard work you’ve put in since the last time you recorded. It’s easy for us to listen to our tapes and look for only the imperfections. Sometimes we’re trying to listen for things that just aren’t there yet. From this perspective, these tapes become disappointing and are not good enough. This sends us into a spiral which results in more hours of recording and frustration. As I’ve before, look at these things with a third person perspective. Listen to these recordings and identify what you liked about it then identify what you didn’t. Can you play it better, yes or no? It is absolutely an acceptable answer to say, “No this is the best of my ability at this current stage”. That is OKAY! If you think you can do it better, set yourself up, get into a mock audition state of mind, and play to the best of your ability. If it isn’t happening that day, come back later or the next day and try again! In addition, have a friend or two to listen to your recordings and give you general feedback. A fresh set of ears is always useful!
I hope that some of these tips can help you in your recording journey! I know that they’ve helped me on mine and have prevented a lot of wasted hours, general frustration and self-doubt. Treat yourself right, go through the process with a plan, and get some good tapes!
That’s it for this week. Questions, comments, or need advice? Follow me on instagram @mindoverpractice or send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. I am offering free consultations and coaching services! Check out more on my website www.rebeccakaru.com. Have a productive week of positive practicing!