Doing a great audition is an achievement in itself -says Tom Burke.
The book, ‘Predictably Irrational’ by Daniel Ariely talks about the incentives that keep us working and what de-incentivizes us. It looks at a piece of research of participants making Lego models and what happens to the finished models.
The researcher took the finished Lego models from the participants and either left it on the desk, or disassembled it and put it in a drawer. Can you imagine being a child and no one – not even your parents – being interested in what you had made with your Lego? This was the feeling the researchers were investigating.
The participants were then asked if they would like to make another Lego model. They were getting paid regardless of what happened to the Lego, but the research found that participants were dropping out of the research. Less people stuck around whose Lego ended up in the drawer.
Become A Professional Auditioner
Often, performing artists do great work but it doesn’t go anywhere. You get in your head and lose confidence when you don’t get the role (or when your Lego goes in the drawer). You become de-incentivized. A human cannot process the question: “Why would I do something if it doesn’t yield a positive outcome?”
You could work on your own cabaret or project, or you could shift the concept that a good audition counts as ‘the work’ (or the Lego staying on the desk). Many of us feel that a good audition only counts of a Lego going in the drawer or trash bin.
Once you make this perceptual shift, the audition is no longer emotionally weighted. You simply see it as business.
If you are expecting money or validation you set yourself up for disaster. It’s probably not gonna happen. Feel satisfied by the internal validation that you did a great audition. Being too tall, too small, too fat, too thin, is separate from knowing you did your best as a professional auditioner.
Don’t walk in an audition room thinking “I need you to prove to me that I am worthy”. This is a loop where you allow them to throw your Lego in the trash. This creates a fear and loss of confidence.
Pose For Power
If in the moments before and audition you feel like your livelihood is at stake depending on whether you can hit that high note, try lowering your fight or flight response by doing power poses and meditation.
Power poses can increase your testosterone levels and decrease your cortisol levels (your stress hormone) which helps you fake it ‘til you make it. Using a physical prompt to shift your hormones vs. just telling yourself to calm down can be highly effective. This great Ted talk explains power poses:
Meditation is as another technique you can use. Meditation is also connected to lowering your cortisol levels which triggers when you are in fight or flight mode. Visualizing positive outcomes not only helps you ‘get in the zone’, it actually facilitates your motor skills.
Then, you can walk proudly into an audition room like: “I get to keep my own Lego, thank you very much”.
Record Your Preparation
Many people underestimate the power of technology for efficient practice. Prepare for audition by filming yourself and discussing your performances with a great singing teacher.
When you go for regular lessons, you are waiting for feedback to go into the teacher, translate and come back to you again. With videos, you can review more content in less time. You can tweak and polish the video like a photograph.
When the audition comes around you know exactly what you are delivering because you have seen it and work-shopped it multiple times.
Tom Burke is a speech-pathologist and voice coach for Broadway, Film, TV and Google. He developed the world’s first online vocal conservatory, Broadway VoiceBox with members in over 19 countries and growing fast. Find out more about his work here: