What You Need to Know About The 16-Bar Theater Audition

...just the right audition information when I needed it. I was so confused about the 16 bar audition song before I came upon this...thanks...my audition was awesome...





You've heard about the 16-bar theater audition but you've never had to prepare for one before. Now, you're about to go on your first 16-bar theater audition and you've been told to prepare both a ballad(slow) and an up-tempo(lively) song. Relax, it's not as difficult as it sounds.

There are logical steps which will help with the process. Before we get into those, however, let me remind you that... whatever you choose, must be the best fit for your singing ability. Additionally, you need to provide sheet music for both yourself and the accompanist. Keep this in mind throughout your selection process. You cannot choose a song for which you can't get the Broadway Sheet Music.

Assuming that you have been working on building a nice selection of songs within your voice range, you will have a variety of choices. How to decide what 16 bar theater audition song to use? Here are some thoughts from a musical theater director.


1) Pick an appropriate Style Piece.

  • For example, don't sing "Les Miserables" for an audition for "Annie".
  • 99% of the time, don't sing music from the show for which you are auditioning. Unless, you are told to prepare it and/or you have no other choice. If you want to set yourself apart from the crowd, consider that the directors will probably hear the show music ALL day.

2) Show off Your Voice.

  • Choose the best part of a song to show the director what you can do. You need to choose the your best 16 bars (measures).
  • Pick something that compliments not only your singing ability but also your stage personality.
  • In those 16 bars, try to give an indication of your vocal range, your high notes as well as your low but don't blow your voice out.
  • Whenever possible, show off your "money notes" (the best part of your range).
  • Sing with expression in your voice.

3) Try to tell a section of a "Story in the Song".

4) Try to end on the "Tonic", which is the first note of the key your song is in.

5)Prepare the Sheet Music for the 16-Bar Theater Audition

  • Make a logical and clearly marked cut of the 16-bar theater audition piece on the sheet music you will be using for practice(as you will be memorizing the song and lyrics) and the copy you are presenting to the accompanist.
  • Be sure to draw 2 thick vertical lines to indicate where you want the accompanist to start and 2 thick thick vertical lines to indicate where you want them to end. Mark Start here before the first 2 starting lines and End here after the last 2 lines.

6) Indicate to the accompanist whether or not you want them to rift at the beginning of your 16 bar song (repeat until you come in). Once you get through your first theater audition the rest should be a piece of cake. Just follow the same logical steps each time. Think things out and of course, go well prepared to the audition.

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