5 Tips To Making Your Live Music Audition a Success

In an interview the famous musician and composer Shanker Mahadevan was asked about his experience in making his first demo tape for a studio audition. He said “….sorry I was blessed with a silver spoon. From day one I was always running after a backlog!”. Few are as lucky to be able to say that; whether it Jimi Hendrix or Mariah Carey or Adele Atkins the path to their success involved making demo recordings. In the case of Jimi it was the old cassette tape in which he recorded and shared with music labels. Mariah Carey’s tapes were rejected several years before she tasted success. Adele launched her career by publishing her samples on social media and finding support.

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Today demo tapes are obsolete. Most independent artistes are either “discovered” via internet channels such as Youtube, Spotify or via television talent discovery programs such as America Got Talent or The Voice or The Indian Idol or Sa Re Ga Ma Pa. As any long-time viewer of these shows would have noticed, while technical competence can get someone through the initial few rounds of the competition, making it all the way to final rounds require musicianship and showmanship. Irrespective of the show or format almost always the judges recognize, and usually agree readily, when they hear someone exceptional.

In this blog we present 5 tips for making your live singing or instrument audition a successful one. While in no way we can guarantee winning the competition, we will show you how to prepare for the audition and perform significantly better than your competitors! There are several blogs, videos and articles you can find online; we have dis-tilled all of it and have given the most essential elements of a successful audition.

You can remember them simply as 5PsPiece, Presentation, Preparation, Posture and Persona.


  1. PIECE

Always select a piece you most enjoy playing.

You do not have to play a famous piece if you do not enjoy doing so. The reason is that besides being able to play the piece correctly, you should be able to answer questions about the theoretical aspects in the composition, analyze the intricacies, be able to improvise if asked, and most importantly you need to be seen as enjoying the piece when performing. Also the judges and audience are always excited when they see a unique interpretation or a different style that is yours. So choosing a piece that brings out the happiness inside you is more important than playing the greatest hit of the century.



Choose wisely whether you are going to create or copy.

This is related to the piece that you select in some ways. Once you choose a piece you need to decide whether to play (or sing) like the original or do your own version. Here is a secret (shared by many judges in the various competitions) : if you plan to do it like the origi-nal then you must at least be as good if not better! You must match the style and land the notes as the original performer. However if you choose to do your own then it must be musically fresh and technically flawless.

Here are examples of both:

In the first example you can notice that being a blind audition, the best way to move the jury is to sound as good as the original. The performer manages to mimic the original (by Amy Winehouse) quite well landing most intonations and notes successfully and yet does it in a fresh voice. In the second example the flutist is obviously extremely talented and therefore he goes further and creates his own versions of famous A.R.Rahman compositions and due to technical brilliance man-ages to go all the way in the competition.



Only way to overcome love and fear is to go do the thing.
Preparation includes both physical and mental preparation. You need to be fit and warmed up for the performance. Most winners of these competitions indicate they practice relentlessly like professionals. For some good practice tips you can check out a previous blog here that will help you with solid technical prep.

Equally important is mental preparation. You need to be relaxed so you can turn in your best. There are tons of articles you can find on the internet that teach you how to relax various parts of the body and mind. The one that helps the most however, is, performing in front of a crowd! So before your audition get in front of a crowd at your house or school or a public cafe and perform. Many times!



You have to look like a winner to win

An often overlooked aspect by many competitors when they go up on stage for their live audition is how they project themselves. Judges (and audience) appreciate confidence and self-awareness in the performer to demonstrate their command of the instrument and the music that they are performing. Poor posture can take away from your performance. Dress impeccably for the event and project your self as winner on stage.



You are what your music is

You must demonstrate feelings when you are playing through your piece. Study the piece carefully and understand the dynamics (soft-loud, loud-soft-loud) and the articulations. Imagine the emotions conveyed by the notes and their progressions. Look for question-answer phrases. The peaks and the valleys. Once you figured all this out practice it enough so you can take your audience through your experience with this music.

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If you adopt these elements into your preparation for that big audition, you can be reliably sure you will do well! Good luck!

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