Six Tips for Video Auditions

Six Tips for Video Auditions

One of the lasting effects of the COVID pandemic is that more schools are allowing applicants to audition via recording. That recording is typically video, and so it seems like a good topic to explore here.

Let’s start with the obvious: A video that you make for a college audition is not the same as a video of a recital. While you may be allowed to submit a recital recording as an audition, if you are making a video specifically to audition, there are some things that you can do to ensure a strong submission.

So. You are recording an audition. The people listening to your recording are assessing your technical and artistic skills, and are asking themselves whether you are a good fit for their school and for their studio. 

Tip #1 – Record the required repertoire. To find out what audition repertoire is required, go to each school’s website and look at their rep lists. It is possible that the rep required for a recording is different from in-person rep, so look carefully. Do not submit more material than is required, and do not record material that is not on the rep list. For example, if one of the repertoire requirements is an Italian aria from the 18th century, do not substitute a German lied.

If you have read some of my previous articles, you will already know that creating a spreadsheet to track repertoire requirements is a good way of organizing yourself, and thus of reducing stress. Whether your audition is in person or via recording (or, for that matter, via zoom), make sure you know what rep is required at each school. Where possible, choose works that will meet the requirements of several schools, to cut down on the number of works that you need to prepare. 

Tip #2 – Check the school’s website for specific technical requirements. By that, I literally mean technology. Will the school accept a link to a YouTube video, or must you upload a recording directly into the application system? Does the school recommend a certain type of equipment, or a certain setup? Track this information on your spreadsheet.

Tip #3 – Speaking of setup: The recording will be reviewed by faculty. They need to hear and see you. Therefore, microphone and camera placements are important. Does the microphone capture your voice without distortion? Does the camera show all of your body so that the faculty can observe your full technique?

When it comes to the recording setup, you need to plan ahead. Try out different venues, and different microphone and camera placements. Are you recording in your living room? Check to see how live it is, and whether the camera can capture all of you. Are you recording in a church? Is it too live? Is the lighting too dim?

Always remember that you are making this recording so that expert teachers can evaluate you. Give them the best shot at hearing and seeing you.

Tip #4 – Part of your presentation on an audition video is your appearance. In some ways, an audition is like a job interview…where you sing! Wear clothes that will allow you to sing freely, but are professional looking. If you record different selections on different days, it’s best to wear the same outfit. This creates continuity, and keeps the focus of the recording on your technique and musicality.

Tip #5 – Whenever you have to make a recording, make sure you allow time to play it back to check the quality. (You don’t want to submit a recording that doesn’t play, for example.) Also, you will want to allow time to have your teacher listen to the recording to make sure that it represents you at your best.

Tip #6 – With all auditions, the ultimate goal is to show the faculty YOU—who you are as a singer, and your current level of technique and musicality. Those things are shown by your choice of repertoire and your presentation. Make sure that the technology works, that the acoustic of the space does not distract from your voice, that your appearance is professional, and that you shine through the medium of video. 

In the end, the result of any audition is outside of your control. However, there are elements of an audition that you can control, and when you have control, you are able to reduce stress and show your best self. Good luck! 

Kathleen Tesar

Kathleen Tesar, BM, MM, EdD, is the Associate Dean for Enrollment Management at The Juilliard School. A former professional violinist, she was previously the Associate Dean at the Colburn School Conservatory of Music in Los Angeles, and Director of Admissions at the Eastman School of Music of the University of Rochester. She presents frequently on topics related to performing arts admission, and is co-author of College Prep for Musicians (Bosler, Greene, Tesar).