What Not to Do at a College Audition

Have an audition on the horizon? You can knock it out of the park if you know what not to do.

To the few lucky students offered auditions at top performing arts schools, here’s to you. You may already be a pro at audition etiquette, but this article is for the others—those kids at auditions who are grossly underprepared to perform, or those who seem pretentious and unworkable. Because art school auditions are often the first step into the adult circle of theatre, it is more important than ever to present yourself in the best light—or should I say, spotlight.

Don’t insult the judges

Yes, this is a bad idea. I don’t think it needs much explaining. 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 even offensive, the school will not view your application positively, no matter how talented you are. Thank the accompanist, smile at the judges, and act professional and polished.

Don’t wear inappropriate clothing

This one should be a given too. But sadly, 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 is best to bring a black or neutral, solid-colored leotard, as street clothes are usually not allowed on the dance floor. For theatre and voice auditions, it is best for guys to wear a suit. You can always take the jacket off if you feel too formal. My voice teacher recommends girls wear a flattering but moderately conservative black dress for auditions. Hair should be out of the face and makeup should be minimal.

Don’t pick a song that doesn’t suit you

It may be time to stick do re mi in the scrapbook. It’s best to pick songs that show off your range and acting abilities, and even some you may not have considered before. My signature audition song when I was in middle school was “Far From the Home I Love.” I’m 17 now, and the song sounds tired and uninspired because I’ve sung it too many times. You should be as excited about the song you’re performing to as the first time you realized you liked it, or you should at least be able to act like you are. Pick songs you can picture yourself singing, not only in front of thousands of people but in front of the mirror. The Internet is a great resource for finding good audition pieces.

Don’t come unprepared

The audition is a chance to show not only your talent, but also your social and organizational skills. Bring three copies of each song you have prepared in case the judges want to look at the music, and make sure the folder or binder you bring is clean and organized. Know your music like the back of your hand. Keep your instruments in good working condition. Make sure they look and sound crisp and clean.

Although my views of audition etiquette are conservative, some schools actually favor the avant-garde. So the major “do” in this article has to do with research—make sure you know what the school you are applying to is looking for and what you personally are searching for in a conservatory.

Do you have any other college audition do’s or don’ts? Share them in the comments!

Like what you’re reading?

Join the CollegeXpress community! Create a free account and we’ll notify you about new articles, scholarship deadlines, and more.

Join Now

college auditions dance majors music majors performing arts performing arts schools

About Meredith Lindsey

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


Join our community of
over 5 million students!

CollegeXpress has everything you need to simplify your college search, get connected to schools, and find your perfect fit.

Join CollegeXpress


High School Class of 2019

My favorite feature of CollegeXpress is the scholarship search. As someone going out of state for college, I needed all the financial help I could get, and CollegeXpress helped me easily find scholarships I could apply for to help fund my education.

Chris Bell

Chris Bell

Bell College Consulting

The college lists on CollegeXpress are indispensable for sussing out creative additions to a student’s list, and the college-specific pages provide terrific commentary and suggestions for related schools. CollegeXpress is among the most trusted sources I use for information for my students.

Kory Gilbertson

Kory Gilbertson

High School Class of 2022

CollegeXpress has helped me explore my views on college in that "why do I wanna go to a certain school" way. It’s helped me explore the best fits in all of these outstanding choices. All these college admission counselors can access my accolades showing them how I could help their college. This source of information helps me show these admission directors who I am and what I'm interested in. Thanks to this platform, my experience for education will be better than most, and I'm so grateful for all that it has provided for me.



High School Class of 2021

CollegeXpress showed me that Western New England University was a great match for me both with curriculum and location. CollegeXpress is an excellent resource both future and current college students.

Damian Rangel

Damian Rangel

September 2021 Mini Scholarship Winner, High School Class of 2022

CollegeXpress has helped me tackle college expenses, which will allow me to put more of my time and effort into my studies without the need of worrying as much about finances.

College Matches

Colleges You May Be Interested In

New York University - Abu Dhabi Campus

Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

Moody Bible Institute

Chicago, IL

Pace University

New York, NY