5 Tips for Preparing Your College Audition Sheet Music

For musical theater college auditions, you will be asked to sing two songs. Typically the colleges will require an up-tempo and a ballad. Requirements can range from contemporary pop/rock to golden age traditional musical theater. And for a few schools, an aria in a foreign language will be required. You will need to prepare 32-bar cuts and 16-bar cuts of each of your song choices as each school has different length requirements.

Because you will be auditioning for a number of different colleges, it is easy to see that your book of college audition song rep will house a variety of music. The most basic book of rep will contain five songs. Your book needs to be well organized and sheet music cuts must be clearly marked.

Remember that the pianist will be meeting you for the first time and needs to get in sync with you posthaste. Anything you can do to make his or her job easier will benefit your audition!

Make things easy for your accompanist with these simple steps:

  • Make sense out of your music cuts.
  • Avoid those little bumps in the road in your sheet music.
  • Present yourself as a professional.

This is how:

  1. Using a Sharpie, put brackets toward music that is sung, and brackets away from music that is cut. Brackets should span the entire grand staff, from top staff to bottom staff, and should be drawn right on the bar line.
  2. Strike through music that is not played. Don’t scribble it out.
  3. Write “start” above the initial bracket, and “finish” above the final bracket.
  4. Write tempo changes, fermatas, ritards, etc., in both the vocal and piano parts.
  5. If cuts don’t start on the first page, write the opening tempo above the initial bracket.

Extra tip: Don’t mark up your only copy of the music. Always keep a clean, full copy. This allows you to make additional copies to mark up for various cuts of the song.

Have a great audition, and avoid any mishaps by working together. Thank your accompanist by name after your audition. And remember…

Be joyous, be brave, and be yourself!

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The views expressed in this article are solely that of the individual(s) providing them,
and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Backstage or its staff.

Mary Anna Dennard
Mary Anna Dennard is a nationally recognized college audition coach and the founder of CollegeAuditionCoach.com, the first ever online prep for college performing arts applicants.
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