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SINGING SOLO

A simple guide

Every season, there is the opportunity for singers within the choir to step forward and sing a solo, duet or small ensemble piece if they wish. Our "end of season" and "big" concerts always have room for soloists, and some of the concerts we do for other event organisers have the potential to include soloists too. Anyone within the choir is welcome to step forward to be considered - it doesn't matter how long you've been with the choir or whether you have prior experience of singing solo.

Not everyone in the choir wants to be a soloist. There's a different set of skills involved, and the level of pressure is greater. 
If you're interested in singing solo in a BeVox concert, or just want to know more about the processes involved, read on...

AUDITIONS

We never audition for people to join the choir - auditions are for people who want to step forward and sing a solo in any of our concerts. The process we use is outlined below.

Criteria

I want it to be really clear to everyone what constitutes a good audition. Knowing what to aim for makes it easier for people to rehearse their solos, and makes the decision-making process clear. At the end of this page, the criteria we use for auditions are laid out clearly. These criteria are at the heart of the whole process, from people rehearsing their songs, through the feedback from the panel to me, into the decision-making process, and finally to the soloist rehearsal – and hopefully to future auditions too.  

Audition review

I think it’s vital for the auditions to be a learning process – a chance to see where you’re at, and what steps can be taken to improve what you’re doing. After your audition, you’ll be sent a video of your performance. I’ll ask you to watch that video and write your own review of how you did, using the criteria as a guide. Sending that review back to me kicks off a conversation between us as we discuss your audition, what went well, what could be improved etc. Your input is vital – one of the most important ingredients in improving anything we do is to be able to assess how well we’re doing already. Watching and listening to your own performance may not be something that everyone enjoys, but it’s such an integral part of the learning experience that it is central to how BeVox auditions work. Once you’ve got over the initial discomfort of watching your video (if you have any), an honest and open conversation can occur in which you can share your observations on your own audition, and I can share mine – all based on the criteria, so everything remains focussed on the things that make up a good audition.

I’m always keen to hear what you make of your own performance, and to discuss specific details in a way that will allow you to build up your skills of self-reflection and critical listening. For people who are lacking in self-confidence as a performer, reviewing the audition video together enables me to point out particular areas where the criteria are being met, so that it becomes clear just how good the performance was. Equally, if a singer isn’t aware of things that have been holding them back, having this conversation gives me the chance to steer them towards thinking about the particular things that they need to work on to improve, and we can discuss the best way forward.

Decision-making

Once we’ve had our discussion about the audition, I’ll ask you what kinds of performance you think it might be suitable for, if any. We then discuss this between us until we come to a consensus – which means you are as involved in the decision-making process as I am. I’ll be transparent and say that, if push comes to shove, the final decision has to be mine, as I’m responsible for ensuring that everything that happens on stage during a BeVox event is suitable – but it's very rare that I need to exercise that power. Usually, once we’ve talked everything through, you will suggest what type of concerts you should perform your song at, and I will simply agree.

Once we’ve reached that point, I’ll want to know if there are specific dates that you can’t make for concerts – there’s no point in me offering you a concert if you’re not going to be available. From there, I can go through and work out who is singing solo in each concert – this process does still have to be my decision, as I need to make sure we have a balanced programme in every concert, but it's a lot easier to make these decisions after all the conversations we’ve had by this point.

In order to make sure that audition decisions are finalised with enough time for us to fit a soloist rehearsal in before the concerts, I limit the time available for all these conversations to two weeks. For that reason, if you’re signing up to audition, please make sure you’re available to answer emails for up to two weeks following the audition date.

Conclusion

It may seem obvious to say this, but all the criteria for a successful audition are based on the actual performance given during the audition – no consideration is given to any past auditions, past performances, or number of singers who have auditioned. There is no “competition” for solo parts, and no-one is more or less likely to get a solo based on whether they’ve had solos before (so, for example, the choir does not contain anyone who is automatically thought of as “a soloist”).

THE CRITERIA

TECHNICAL

  • How many of the notes are correct?

  • How clear is the sense of rhythm?

  • How well-tuned are the notes?

  • How clear is the diction?

  • How well-supported is the sound?

INTERPRETATION

  • How much variation in volume is there, and how appropriate is this to the song?

  • How much emotion is in the performance, and how appropriate is this to the song?

  • To what degree have the lyrics influenced the way the song is sung?

PERFORMANCE

  • To what degree does the singer hold the audience’s attention and communicate with them?

  • How much is body language, including facial expression, used – and how appropriate is this to the song?

  • How confident does the singer appear on stage?

 

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