Finding That Perfect 16-Bars

16-bar-cutIt is common practice in musical theatre for auditions to consist of singing 16-bars at both the professional and community level. On occasion you may be asked for 32-bars, a short song (2-3 min), or even an 8-bar cut (yikes!). I’m focusing on finding 16-bar cuts, approximately 30 to 45 seconds of music, for the purpose of auditioning. Many of my students want to show everything they can do in this short amount of time from their highest note to their powerful belt to their awesome acting chops to their musical prowess. In short, this is an impossible task and not what I want my students to focus on.

What’s important in those 16-bars?

  1. Find a song that is age and voice appropriate. I don’t want to hear a thirteen year old singing “Send In The Clowns” or a fifty year old singing “Good Morning Baltimore”.
  2. Find a song that fits the style of the show you’re auditioning for. If you’re auditioning for Rock of Ages, a rock song (preferably not from a musical) is what I’d recommend whereas if you’re audition for The Sound of Music, I would generally suggest a legit classic musical theatre song.
  3. Find a song that you love. There is so much music to choose from that there is no need to settle for a song that you think is just okay.
  4. Tell a story in sixteen bars and make sure that your cut makes sense. We don’t want to end in the middle of a phrase or on a leading tone (note that wants to be resolved to Do). It is possible to have a cohesive story in 16-bars.
  5. You! Directors, music directors, and the producing team want to work with awesome people. Don’t get so caught up in vocal technique and acting and musicality that you forget to simply enjoy the performance of your 16-bars!
  6. Last, but not least, HAVE FUN! It’s your time and your audition so enjoy it.
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