The 5 Best Songs for Beginners to Sing at Auditions

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If you’re at an open call, you’ve got only 10 to 16 bars (32 if you’re lucky) to leave a strong impression. That’s less than a minute to make your mark! Song choice is everything, especially if you’re a beginner. Backstage talked to veteran casting professional Alison Franck to get her advice on unexpected, easy audition songs for beginners. But first, a few pitfalls to avoid when you’re first starting out.

Don’t sing:

A song from the show you’re auditioning for. But do opt for one that’s in the same genre, style, or period. “If the musical is more Golden Age, go with composers or songwriting teams from that era,” Franck recommends. “For example, Rodgers and Hammerstein or Lerner and Loewe.”

Done-to-death ditties. Avoid anything from “Annie,” if you’re a kid, and “popular” songs, says Franck, adding, “I’ve heard a lot of ‘Dear Evan Hansen’ and ‘Mean Girls.’ ” 

Outside your range. “If you can’t hit a high C, don’t,” she says. “Don’t show what you can’t do; show what you can do right.” Enlist a vocal coach to help figure out your range.

Without emotion. “If singing is new to you, at least work on your acting of the song,” Franck says.

Try these audition songs instead:

1. “A Little Brains, A Little Talent” from “Damn Yankees”

Good for: Dancers with a lower range

Franck says, “If you’re more of a dancer who sings—which is usually what beginner singers are in our world—you need to show that you have a line to your voice and can carry a tune. ‘A Little Brains, A Little Talent’ is great because it’s a little more general, instead of ‘Whatever Lola Wants’ [from ‘Damn Yankees’], because that’s so specific.”

2. “In My Own Little Corner” from Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “Cinderella”

Good for: Mid-range voices

“You want something that tells a story,” she explains. “You can sing any verse and there’s a beginning, a middle, and an end. Anybody can sort of be Cinderella—from young girls to 30-year-olds. And despite the fact that Julie Andrews sang it, it still isn’t that rangy. It can be pretty and novice-y and still be effective.”

3. “It’s a Perfect Relationship” from ”Bells are Ringing”

Good for: Belters

“Another one that doesn’t [require] a huge range. It’s a song that any female can relate to, [about] not seeing the person that you’re in love with. It’s funny, tells a story, and sits in most women’s voices that aren’t sopranos yet,” says Franck.

4. “I Won’t Send Roses” from “Mack and Mabel”

Good for: Baritones

Franck says, “Actually, anything [actor] Robert Preston has done is good because [the songs are] low, not super rangy, and it’s more talk-singing. But you can sing it as you get better.”

5. “It Only Takes a Moment” from “Hello, Dolly!”

Good for: Male singers

“Jerry Herman musicals have great material,” she adds. “ ‘It Only Takes a Moment’ might be a little bit more advanced—but it’s not that hard. A good actor who’s very present and sings from the heart can make any singing weaknesses seem charming and real.”

Alison Franck from Franck Casting is a casting professional with over 20 years of experience, including Broadway, Off-Broadway, touring, regional theater, TV, film, commercial, and voiceover casting. She’s currently casting for potential productions of “The Cher Show,” “Sister Act,” and “The Addams Family.”

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