I empower vocalists to master their technique + use social media to grow their brand + show the world what makes them unique.
Your repertoire reflects who you are as a vocalist and artist. Each song should have a very specific reason to be there. You need to truly be connected to the songs that you choose. It’s understandable that you might feel overwhelmed at the thought of having to select songs, but in all reality, when you put the time and effort into having a repertoire of songs to sing from, that you know you can rock at no matter what the setting, may it be a major audition or just a friend putting you on the spot to sing something…. (we all have that friend).
In musical theatre, your repertoire should reflect your type. Typing someone means to cast a performer in a role that matches their physical appearance, personality, and mannerisms. Actors often get frustrated because they feel as if they are pigeonholed into playing certain roles because of their type, but it is true that you will usually get cast close to type and so your repertoire should reflect your type. However, you have to remember that this is a business. You are selling a product – you. Your book must reflect songs that characters of your type usually sing.
Be sure to take time to find songs that you love covering a broad range of musical theater styles – songs that fit you emotionally, vocally, and that are type-appropriate. To be well prepared for whatever kind of audition might come up, you need to cover a broad range of styles/genres in your book. Some standard categories in a repertoire book are:
Other things to think about when choosing songs:
Overdone Songs: Try your best to steer clear of picking songs that are overdone. You want to wow the people who are auditioning you. If you are singing something they have already heard a bunch of times that day, you are not setting yourself apart from the rest.
Vocal Consistency: While it is important to pick songs that show off different parts of your voice (belt, legit, etc.), don’t pick songs that are a stretch for you, or that you wish you could sing. If a song is too hard for you, change the key! Fear not if you do not know how to change the key. You can hire someone to transpose it for you or find music software that does transposition. If you can’t belt the note every time, you shouldn’t have that song in your book. That said if you CAN nail it every time, make sure you have some songs in your book that show off those notes.
Cuts: At most auditions, you will have limited time to sing your song and might not be able to sing the whole song. You will most likely be asked to prepare a cut (usually 16 or 32 bars). Make sure your cuts (where you begin and end) are clearly marked on the sheet music if you have an accompanist. Although a cut isn’t that much time, you must make sure that they have exciting emotional and vocal journeys. You have to win the casting directors over with these 30-second cuts of music so make sure you’re singing your most favorite part of the song!
Accompanist: If you are not bringing your own accompanist, don’t choose songs that are extremely difficult to play. If you know the pianist and know they will be able to play it, go ahead! But, if you are going to choose something with difficult accompaniment, be prepared with a backup. If you accompanist is struggling, your audition will suffer.
Variety: Lastly, remember that each song has to have a reason for being in your repertoire. Don’t have too many songs that show the same thing.
Remember to keep your book organized and neat. Double-side your music so that the accompanist won’t have to turn the page as many times. Be sure the print quality is good. There should be a table of contents at the front, putting your songs into the categories discussed above. Clearly label tabs for the different categories. Sometimes directors might want to hear a second song but might want to look through your book to decide what they want to hear. Make sure your book reflects your professionalism. Make sure that you are prepared to sing anything in your book because it will not look professional at all if you don’t know everything that you have selected to perform in your repertoire.
Properly prepare yourself so that you can perform each song with memorization and to deliver the emotion needed. Work on your songs with your vocal coach beforehand. Be prepared and confident with your song before you perform it in an audition.
After you have been auditioning for a while, you will start to get a feel for what songs are the best for you to have in your repertoire. If you are getting a lot of callbacks with a song, keep using it! If you aren’t getting good feedback or callbacks, find new material. If you are getting bored with a song, don’t be afraid to take it out and replace it with something new that excites you! You should always love singing the songs in your repertoire. When your songs have meaning to you, it truly shows in your performance.
There is a lot of thought that goes into preparing a well-organized repertoire. Your repertoire needs to be a good representation of who you are vocally, emotionally, and type-specific. The process of putting your repertoire book together may seem like a lot of work, but just know that the more prepared you are, the better response you will get at auditions.
Have Fun Building Your Repertoire!
If you have questions about my services, email me at:
Every message is read and responded to in 48 business hours, Monday - Friday 9am-5pm EST. Your message is of utmost importance to me, so if you feel I might have missed your email, feel free to drop a note again. I'm here to take great care of you.