With vocal auditions for YAACompany and YAAjunior coming up on September 14, 15, and 16th, we sat down with Rolando Sanz, our Artistic Director, to talk best practices for vocal auditions. Learn more about our vocal program and register here. And, if you're an instrumentalist, learn what our Maestro, Kris Sanz, has to say about nailing your audition here.

Kids always get so stressed out for auditions. How should they approach nerves, and how do you approach your nerves?

I have always found that we get most nervous, whether for an audition or a test, if we are either not prepared or if we prepared at the last minute. Preparation far in advance is key. This is one of the things that drives how we rehearse at YAA, for example. We always front load our rehearsals early on in each production, so that by the time we get closer to performance and things get busy, everything is well learned and prepared.

I believe it's the same for auditions. If you're choosing your audition selection, even two days before your audition, it's probably too late to perform a successful audition that you're comfortable with and to keep those pesky nerves at bay. So what I do personally is that at least two weeks before an audition, I decide what repertoire I'm going to be performing Then I start prepping it with my teacher, and run through it with my collaborative pianist, always making sure my music is in the right key for my voice. These are all the little details that sometimes you don't think of it until an hour before an audition that can cause stress and nerves.

The students who come to audition at YAA and are most successful are the ones who've done their prep work ahead of time?

Yes, absolutely! Another tip for a successful audition is making sure the repertoire is appropriate for the student as well as for the show being auditioned for. So if you are a 15-year-old ingenue soprano (think Julie Andrews), and you come in to an audition for Rent singing Anita's music from West Side Story...there are so many things wrong with that. And yes, who doesn't love singing Anita's music from West Side Story, but it's not appropriate for the situation or for the student. So if it's a rock show, it has to be pop or rock music, and it also has to be in the right 'vocal zone' for you. So just because you like a song, that doesn't mean that it's the right song for you to audition with for that specific show.

So five minutes before an audition is there anything that you do to get yourself in the right space before you go in?

I usually go into a corner, often it's a bathroom, especially if I am in New York City where space is at a premium. I seek out a stairwell or a quiet corner and think of the character I'm auditioning for. I shouldn't at that point to have to run through my lines or my music because I prepared it so far in advance that it's ingrained. If I've had to learn something last minute for whatever reason, I will run through lines in the corner and hope for the best. However, I found that if I am working to remember text or music five minutes before the audition, it makes me nervous, so I tend to try to avoid that that. And I just remember that I'm going into an audition just to show them who I am. And it's not about nailing this song. It's about showing the best you that you are in those five minutes.

Learn more about our Performance Ensembles (both vocal and orchestra) here, and register for your audition here. Learn more about how to nail an orchestra audition here.