Young dancer in black leotard performing a stage audition for committee of three

4 Performing Arts College Audition Mistakes Students Should Avoid

Have a college admission audition on the horizon for a performing arts program? Avoid stepping into these pitfalls for a smooth, successful performance!

To the lucky students offered auditions to top performing arts schools, here’s to you. You may already be a pro at audition etiquette, or you may be a newbie, but it never hurts to brush up on your professional lest you’re underprepared to perform to the best of your ability. Because art school auditions are often the first step into the adult circle of theatre, it’s more important than ever to present yourself in the best light—or should I say, spotlight. Here are a few things to absolutely avoid at your audition.

1. Insulting the committee

I don’t think this needs much explaining. Insulting anyone in any professional setting is a bad idea. Be polite, gracious, and courteous to the people taking time out of their day to watch you perform. If you come off as rude or offensive, the school will not view you or your application in a positive light no matter how talented you are or how many accolades are listed on paper. Thank the accompanist, smile at the judges, and act professional, appreciative, and polished.

2. Wearing inappropriate clothing

I’ve seen a lot of kids at auditions wearing clothing that does not present them in a good light. The best aphorism for this is: Don’t wear something you wouldn’t want your grandparents to see you in. For dance auditions, it’s best to bring a solid-colored black or neutral leotard, as street clothes are usually not allowed on the dance floor. For theatre, instrumental, and voice auditions, it’s usually recommended for auditioners to wear black formal or semi-professional clothing that is comfortable but put together. Your hair should be out of the face and makeup should be minimal.

Related: How to Create a Fresh Professional Wardrobe for Internships and First Jobs

3. Picking a song that doesn’t suit you

It’s time to stick do re mi in the recycling bin! Pick songs that show off your range—whether that be in acting, dancing, or singing abilities. You should even add some you may have considered out of the box for you. My signature audition song when I was in middle school was “Far From the Home I Love.” Looking back now, the song sounds tired and uninspired because I’ve sung it too many times. You should be as excited about a song you’re performing or being accompanied by as when you initially chose. Pick songs you can picture yourself singing not only over and over but also in front of a crowd. Do some research on the internet for more advice on finding good audition pieces.

4. Coming entirely unprepared

Your audition is a chance to show not only your talent but also your social and organizational skills. Bring three copies of each song or script you’ve prepared in case the judges want to follow along and make sure the folder or binder you bring is clean and organized. Know your performance like the back of your hand. Keep any instruments in good working condition. Make sure everything looks and sounds crisp and clean.

Related: Video: Surviving College Applications for Performing Arts Students

Although my views of audition etiquette are conservative and old-school, some schools will favor the less traditional student audition. Ultimately make sure you know what the school you are applying to is looking for in its applicants and adapt accordingly. But also be aware of what you personally are searching for in a conservatory, because if you’re having to creatively adapt too much, it may not be the best place for you.

Haven’t found the right programs to apply to yet? Don’t worry! Our featured performing arts colleges lists will help you learn more about amazing schools that could be right for you.

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About Meredith Lindsey

Meredith is a student journalist from Wilmington, Delaware. She loves reading and writing, particularly poetry.


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