Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Audition, Part 2

When I posted the first part of my audition adventure, one very kind writer friend said, "i don't get why you couldn't audition with what you had prepared, since that was their instruction, right, to be ready with these songs."  First of all, I made an assumption based on the information on the audition sheet that was, in the words of another friend, "Totally understandable but also totally wrong."  I had questions; I should have asked them.  My own fault I didn't.

My kind friend said, "i am assuming you did not get the part, or get a place in this group?  it all seems so wrong, given your beautiful voice."  I don't know yet if I got the part, but I thought that maybe it would help to explain the audition in terms of writing and publishing because there are some similarities. 

When a writer sends in a submission to a magazine or anthology publisher, the writer should know that it's not (only) the quality of the submission that is being judged but how well it fits in with the whole.  Maybe your piece is lovely but just not quite matching the theme or maybe there's another submission that is slightly better than yours and covers some of the same territory.  It's not just the quality of your writing that is being examined; it is how your piece blends in with the whole.

A rejection is therefore not necessarily a judgment that a writer is not good at writing.  (This is why reading through some issues of the magazine or journal one is trying to publish in is highly encouraged: it can cut down on wasted submissions of perfectly good work to places where it just won't fit, which saves time for editors and emotional energy for the writer.)

One way a vocal audition is not like trying to get published is that, while you have a short time to wow the decision makers in both situations, you sometimes have to somehow try to demonstrate the whole stylistic range of your vocal talent in an audition, to show all the possibilities.  You don't have to do that in writing.  In writing, it's okay to just be really good at one style or genre.

Sometimes a person has a lovely voice for one kind of singing that doesn't necessarily translate to being a good fit with another kind of singing.  I have a good voice for sacred choral music (straight tone, resonant in a good acoustic, no vibrato, able to blend well with other parts).  The group I am joining for this endeavor is singing operatic, classical choral.  The quartet I auditioned for would likely be made up mostly of church ladies who are (on the whole) not formally trained and use excessive vibrato or are formally trained and use vibrato.  I knew that going in.  That's why I was kicking myself so much for forgetting that BLEND should have been the thing foremost on my mind and not just getting the notes right in that audition.

I'm not even sure I want the part.  My health still isn't totally reliable, and my voice definitely isn't.  (And if I get the part, it means I have to expend more than normal energy avoiding illness until after the concert.  I'm not sure I even have that energy.)  I think maybe I tried out because the process of preparation is important; I wanted to show myself that I can do that part in case I ever get healthy enough to get back into music more seriously.  Maybe that's why it was so disappointing that I couldn't even get that right. 

In the end, I explained the situation to the director and, unusually, ended up getting a call back for a second audition of the song I had prepared but for a different vocal part, so I learned that and prepped it and then had my audition.  I asked her what she was looking for, and she told me to just sing it, so I did.  She was impressed by my accuracy but seemed dubious  about my ability to blend with the others.  I told her that I was actually a choir chameleon because I could blend with nearly any kind of voice (which was often true in my last choir) and help pull the whole together.  And then I waited for a final decision, something writers who try to publish are very familiar with.  : )

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