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10 Tips For Acing Your OCSA YouTube Audition

OCSA audition season is upon us, and with the YouTube video audition requirement, it’s come early this year. Getting ready to film your videos for the acclaimed Orange County School of the Arts can be daunting, but we’re here to help. With so many of my students putting together their video auditions for Musical Theatre and Integrated Arts right now, I wanted to share with you 10 Tips For Acing Your OCSA YouTube Audition.

1. Start Early!

Just because you’re singing a song on video doesn’t mean that you should throw something together the day before it’s due. If you don’t know a song very well when you’re practicing it, chances are you won’t pull it off the way you want when it’s being video taped. Sure, you can do a million takes until you get it right, but by the millionth take, your voice will probably be tired, and you won’t have the same energy and enthusiasm as you did at the beginning. If you’ve been working on a song for months and sound great on it, you can just knock the video out in 2 or 3 takes when you’re fresh. Or better yet, start filming early so that if you have a rough day, there’s time to go back and film it a week later.

2. Read the Directions.

At least as I write this in 2014, Integrated Arts asks for you to sing a complete song if possible. Musical Theatre asks for 32 bars. If you don’t sing a complete song for Integrated Arts, it doesn’t mean you won’t get a live audition, but why not give yourself the best shot possible by giving the audition committee what they’re asking for? While singing a whole song for Musical Theatre may not ruin your chances of acceptance, it’s much smarter to pick a segment of the song that shows off what you can do as best as possible. If you sing a whole song, there’s a shot they’ll stop watching the video before getting to the good part.

3. Pay Attention to Genre.

If you’re auditioning for Integrated Arts, you can sing a song in any genre. That being said, Heather Stafford, the director of the conservatory, said that she would prefer a Broadway song over a pop song. If you’re auditioning for Musical Theatre, you should highly consider sending a video of a musical theatre song. No matter how much better you think Kelly Clarkson music shows off your voice, they’re going to want to see that you have some interest in and knowledge of the conservatory you’re trying out for.

4. Watch Out For Overdone Songs.

This means Wicked, Les Miserables, Part of Your World, Annie, Frozen, and much of the Glee repertoire. If you’re singing pop, try not to go for that song on the radio that you’ve heard played every fifth song. Pop music goes in and out of popularity a lot faster than other genres, so if you’re picking something that’s a year or two old, you’re probably fine. The exception to all of this is if you’re going to sing that Wicked/Les Miz/Frozen song better than anyone else they’ll hear singing it, and you know you’re going to blow them out of the water. But even if you’re fantastic, it’s a much safer bet to assume this isn’t the case.

5. Choose Your Cuts Wisely.

For Musical Theatre, make sure you pick the 32 bars that best showcases your voice. This may mean the hardest section of the song. It may also mean the part you feel you can act the best. It may even just mean the part that skips that one note you can’t really hit. It’s a good idea to make your segment as non-repetitive as possible. In other words, try not to let your 32 bars consist of 2 verses and no choruses.

6. Take Risks!

In a video, you have a little more leeway when it comes to challenging yourself than you do in a live audition. If there’s a tough note that you only hit well 60% of the time, it’s best to avoid it in a live audition. But 60% may be a high enough percentage to try attacking the tough note in a video audition. As long as you start the video process early enough, you can always come back to it on a different day if it doesn’t work out the first time.

7. Put Some Personality Into It.

It may feel more awkward to put emotion and personality into a song when your dad is standing there with a video camera shoved in your face, but you should put the same energy into your YouTube audition that you would in a live audition. It isn’t just about sounding beautiful. OCSA is a performance school, and even on video, they’ll want to see that you’re a performer and can feel and interpret a song.

8. Dress to Impress.

It may just be a video and not a live audition, but you may as well look put together in your video as well. Dressing well may not be the most critical factor in your audition, but it’s just another way to show you care. Looking put together may mean different things for different people, so I’m not going to give you a dress code, but look at it this way. If the Integrated Arts audition page tells you not to wear flip-flops for the audition, it probably means that you shouldn’t dress too casual for the video either.

9. Make Sure the Audio is Good.

You don’t need $10,000 equipment to make a successful OCSA audition YouTube video, but you want to make sure the sound is at least decent. You’re up against many other students with phenomenal voices, so you want to make sure your phenomenal voice comes through well on your video. That means it shouldn’t be crackly, and there shouldn’t be dogs barking, babies crying, or parents entertaining siblings in the background.

10. Make Sure the Video is Good.

Again, no $10,000 equipment needed for this one, but you also don’t want the video to be reminiscent of The Blair Witch Project, for anyone who still gets that reference. The video should be clean and with decent lighting, so your facial expressions and movements are easy to discern.

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