I'm back from The Voice's open call!
Well, I mean, technically I was back on Saturday evening, but I'm just now getting around to blogging about it. Neither my friend Jeni nor I made it through to the next round, but as we left the Javits Center in Manhattan and wandered around Chelsea looking for a place to eat lunch, we both had some interesting reflections on the morning which we thought ought to be shared.
When I was preparing for the audition, I found a lot of blog posts discussing what the process was like (long wait, ten to an audition room, etc.), but I didn't find much advice. Here are my thoughts on the process, in quick list form for those of you who just googled "tips on auditioning for The Voice" or something similar:
1. Warm up your voice before you get there. Our audition time was at 7 AM. We woke up around 5:30, and since we were staying with friends and took the subway to the Javits, neither of us warmed up our voices. We both kind of just assumed that since it was a voice audition, everyone would be singing and we would have plenty of vocal exercise before we got in front of the judges. WRONG. It was eerily quiet in the convention center for the majority of our 5-hour wait. We never got an opportunity to warm up at all, and therefore I started my song in too-low a key. Oops.
2. You will have a better chance at getting through to the next round if you surprise the producer with your voice. This kind of makes sense, since it mimics what you see in the blind auditions on television. These people are looking not only for an excellent voice, but for good television. In our group of ten (they take you in front of a producer in groups of ten to audition), there were four people who I would have judged to have excellent voices: my friend Jeni, two young black girls, and one large white girl. Only the large white girl made it through. My theory on why she got through and the others didn't is because her voice didn't match her look; in other words, you wouldn't have expected that voice to come out of that person. Now, there may be absolutely nothing you can do about this, but one thing you could try is dressing against your type. For example, if you have the voice of a rockstar, dress conservative, or if you're a country singer, dress like a heavy metal rocker. It can't hurt.
3. Try not to take it too seriously. This is an open call. Thousands of people will be there, and many of them will sing as well as or better than you do. If you don't make it through, it's not because you're not a great singer, it's just because you aren't what the producers are looking for, in terms of a character for their show. Jeni overheard one girl say, "I hope that I get a callback, because that will mean that I'm a good singer!". We saw a lot of tears and a lot of angry people as we left. Do not place your self-worth on whether or not you make it onto some tv show.
4. Have two or three songs ready. I've seen other people post this tip, but it is REALLY important. The girl who got chosen in our group was asked to sing a second song. She knocked it out of the park, because she'd obviously prepared. Another girl in our group--one of the last to sing--got flustered and blew it because she was singing the same song as the first girl in our group. Always have a backup plan, and make sure you can start each song at your strongest verse & chorus, because that's all they'll ask you to sing.
5. Bring a sweater. Even though it's summer, it was really cold in our building, and a lot of people were freezing, which is bad for your voice. It never hurts to be prepared.
6. Bring a water bottle. I drank two giant bottles of water in the five hours we were there. Hydration is important, and concessions were really expensive. There was a water fountain, but who wants to keep leaving the line to get a drink? Bring a bottle.
7. Sing something that makes sense for you. I obsessed over song choice, and in the end I decided to go with one of my older originals (which you can listen to here) since I knew all the words and it obviously suited my voice. Even though I didn't get through (and I sang it too low), I felt good about my choice because it was who I am as an artist. One guy in our group sang a Britney Spears song from 2000 and when it was over, he asked the producer for some tips on what he could do better next time. His advice? "Sing something that makes more sense for you." Now, I'm not saying that you can't sing a song by someone of the opposite sex--two girls sang Michael Jackson songs exceptionally well--but be sure that it matches up with who you would be as an artist, should you record an entire album.
8. Wear comfortable shoes. As I said, we were there for about five hours, and even though part of the wait is done in chairs, many girls had to hold their shoes in their hands by the time we made our way to the judging room. Just find an outfit that can accommodate a sensible shoe choice so that you have one less thing to worry about.
9. Don't wink at the producer during your audition. Yeah, I did that. I wink a lot (most often at babies), and when he looked up at me as I was singing to him, I did it right to his face. I think he thought I was hitting on him. Oops. Oh well.
Aside from all those bullet points, don't forget to have fun! Auditioning for a reality show is practically a rite of passage in this day and age. I'm glad that I got to check that off my list, but I'm actually really relieved that I didn't make it through to callbacks. Sure, I love to sing--and I guess it would be nice to make a living doing it--but I really don't want to be famous. In all honesty, I probably wouldn't have gone at all if it hadn't been for Jeni, but I'm glad I did go. We had a great day and half in NYC together and came back with some fun memories. And that's more than enough for me. :)