The Vocal Company Blog

4 A Cappella Audition Tips from "Sing It On"

Posted by AJ Marino on Aug 3, 2016 11:54:27 AM

If you haven't already heard, Season 2 of the aca docu-series "Sing It On" is back on Pop TV with more awesome music, drama, and 4 fresh new groups!  With new episodes airing every Wednesday at 8/7c, we are always so excited to cheer on our #TVCFamily during prime time. The show highlights 4 competitive east coast groups we love, Faux Paz, S#harp Attitude, The Hexachords, and Off the Beat, as they vie for the title of ICCA champion. 

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While you wait for us to finish up new releases from these superstars, you should be checking out this show! Another bonus to watching is to get great advice to bring to your own group as you prep for the school year and go through exactly what these groups did. Episode 1 was all about auditions, everyone's favorite time of the year, and with school coming up in a few short weeks, we wanted to highlight some great a cappella audition tips to note as you catch up before Episode 2!

1. Know your goals and who you'll need to achieve them

In the beginning of Episode 1, the ladies of S#arp Attitude explain how they lost their beatboxer to fellow on campus group The Hexachords, and need to find one to replace her. They are very motivated to compete this year, and know that in a competition setting, it would be "impossible" to succeed without a beatboxer so they go into auditions knowing exactly who and what they are looking for. Sitting down with your group before auditions and discussing your goals for the year is so important before selecting new members. If you know you need a powerhouse soloist for the song you want to do in competition, a descant soprano for that pro arrangement you purchased, or a very organized business manager to help you fundraise for a new album, you need to have everyone thinking about that as they scan for potential new members. While you may find someone you don't need but fall in love with anyway, it's good to at least be prepared to have your basses covered (no pun intended, but also true).

2. Choose people for their potential

Something important that is mentioned in both Faux Paz's and S#arp's audition scenes are that they aren't just looking at what auditonees are bringing that day - they are trying to see the untapped potential in them and how that can be applied to their group. Since S#arp is so focused on finding a beatboxer, they ask each girl not only if they know how to do VP, but if they are willing to learn. This is crucial in all-female auditions, since many great female beatboxers and basses didn't start until college when their group asked them the same question, so it's important to scout out freshman who can be trained and grow into superstars. The same can be said of amazing people you may not have been looking for. When Brad enters the Female only auditions for Faux, at first they are hesitant to let him sing, since they already have enough male members. However, they admire his passion so they let him audition, but with a catch - they need females, so he has to audition with the female song, in the original key. Brad takes the challenge and shows his fabulous tenor range and potential that he may not have gotten to show off if they hadn't pushed him or let him audition in the first place, and they gain a valuable new member they didn't expect.

3. Make sure everyone you choose is adding something to the group

Right at the start of Faux Paz's auditions, President David shares this wise rule: You can't accept someone into the group unless "you can't see Faux Paz continuing without this person." That is a great rule to go by, and one not all groups take seriously. When you let someone into your group, you're not just letting in a new Alto 1 or beatboxer; you are adding someone to be a member of your family, and to be a future leader of the group. If you let in someone solely for their personality, or to hit a certain group size, then you're doing a disservice to them and to the future of your group. Everyone you add should be an absolute asset to your group and bring something new you didn't have before. Of course, a freshman will not always be as strong as a powerhouse senior, but if you don't see amazing potential, trust your judgement and don't settle. You can always figure out how to make a new group size work or highlight a different kind of soloist, but it's a lot more #awkward to remove someone from the group later on who doesn't live up to your standard.

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4. Watch for musicality AND personality

One great thing both S#arp and Faux highlight in their auditions is their strong sense of their brand, and the kind of person that is a perfect fit for their group. Faux even makes an audition category for it, called the "Faux Factor." When considering the females who auditioned for them, David notes that auditionee Cat's personality that she showed in her sassy walk out of the room proves she would be an amazing addition to their bold and fierce family. While Mitul makes the point that the group doesn't musically NEED Brad as the 8th male of their group, they do note that his passion is the definition of Faux Factor, so they have to have him. S#arp makes a similar point when a girl walks out and they all unanimously agree that she is "SO S#harp Attitude." Those gut feelings about people often tell you more about how they'll fit in than their solo will, and it has to be a factor before you make your final decision. Both good and bad first impressions can tell a lot about how a new member will fit into your group, and before you commit to spending countless hours in fun and stressful situations with them, you need to be confident they are going to be a positive addition personally as well as musically.

Faux and S#arp were able to find some great new members, and with their tips hopefully you can too as you gear up for another awesome year. Does your group have another trick the show didn't mention? Let us know in the comments, and be sure to catch Episode 2 of Sing It On on Pop TV every Wednesday at 8/7c!

a cappella competition checklist

Topics: Rehearsal Strategies