Singing For Dummies
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In the beginning of your audition quest, you may not have the opportunity to sing your entire song. For each song that you plan to sing at your audition, choose 16 bars or 8 bars (called a cut) in advance and prepare this selection. (Still, knowing the entire song is best, just in case you’re asked to sing it.

Opera companies and many local community auditions, for example, may allow you to sing the whole song. That opportunity is great for you, but even in these situations, be prepared with a cut, in case they start to run late.)

A bar or measure is what’s between the bar lines. Notice the vertical line going down through the five lines on the musical staff. That’s a bar line. In between two bar lines is a measure (which is also known as a bar).

When you cut the song, you can count out the measures or assume that you have about 30 seconds to sing. That’s a short amount of time, so make the most of it. When deciding on the 16 bars, keep these points in mind:

  • The 16 bars (or 16 measures) need a sense of completion. The cut must make sense lyrically, and the music must have a sense of completion. Successful cuts are often the last 16 bars or go from the middle of the song (called the bridge) to the end.

  • The biggest mistake is assuming that you can start at the beginning and just go until the end. You’re going to be cut off, and that cutoff may happen right before the best part of the song.

  • In the heat of the moment, choosing which section to sing is difficult. Making the decision before the audition gives you time to think about the cut, practice the cut to make sure that you really get to say something, practice hearing the note, and then start on that phrase.

  • Choose a section that really shows off your vocal range and your acting abilities.

About This Article

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Pamelia S. Phillips is a professional singer with over 35 years of teaching experience. She has designed curriculum for high school students, college BFA programs, and professional training programs, helping thousands of singers refine their singing technique.

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