…now all I need’s the cut to go with ’em.
But it’s not just an audition cut that I need; it’s a cut that’s marked clearly for the accompanist.
Many musical theatre performers select solid audition cuts, but few — in my experience, anyway — bring in sheet music that is presented and marked with a high degree of clarity. The next time you go on an audition, consider this five-step checklist for ensuring the best possible collaboration between the audition accompanist and yourself:
- Have I arranged my pages to make for the fewest turns possible?
- Tip: Most 16-bar cuts can be presented on side-by-side pages, alleviating the need for any turns.
- If the title of my song doesn’t already appear at the top of the first page of my cut, have I written it in?
- Tip: Ensure that the title of your cut appears at the top of your first page of music. It provides an immediate frame of reference in the event that the accompanist is already familiar with your song.
- Have I clearly marked the “Start” and “End” of my cut, and in doing so, have I been sure to account for my introduction?
- Tip: Be sure to consider whether you want a measure of introduction, a bell tone, or some other sort of lead-in to your cut, and that whatever you’ve chosen is explicitly indicated.
- Have I marked a clean version of my music that is free of stray erasure marks?
- Tip: Be sure that your music (and your markings) are as clean and crisp as possible. Stray markings — even if they’re only half-visible from previous erasures — muddle up the sheet music. You want your cut to be as clear and legible as possible, with only applicable markings incorporated.
- Is my music “accordioned” together in an easy-to-unfold way, or are my sheets in non-glare sheet protectors?
- Tip: Personally, I’ve always preferred non-glare sheet protectors when accompanying auditions. I find that the taped-together “accordion” method of arranging sheet music in one’s book often means that the sheets “fall over” and off the music rack.
One very important thing to remember: although you may give your accompanist a wealth of verbal instructions prior to your audition, all of that information needs to be replicated in writing on your sheet music, too. Audition accompanists often play hundreds of auditions in the same day, and even if you’ve just given clear verbal instructions to him or her, the redundancy of having these marked on your sheet music is a huge help.
I’ve included here the five music-marking considerations that I feel are most necessary to address when preparing your sheet music for an audition accompanist. If you’re interested in learning more, I’d suggest checking out Andrew Gerle’s The Enraged Accompanist’s Guide to the Perfect Audition, published by Applause Theatre & Cinema Books.