By Caitlin Vincent
In the first few days of October, singers are forced to face the looming threat in their near future: audition season. It’s a time to brush off the favored five arias, shop for new audition outfits, and schedule pre-screening recording sessions, all the while scouring Yap Tracker (www.yaptracker.com) for audition postings.
In theory, these few months should be an exciting time for young singers. Yet, with the reality of the recession and continued cuts in arts funding, audition season can sometimes feel like an exercise in futility. It doesn’t help that cash-strapped companies are accepting fewer singers and generally favoring vocalists with three or four YAP programs already under their belts.
Still, it’s important to remember that getting a contract isn’t the only potential benefit of audition season. Auditions are also opportunities to hone performance skills, sing for established leaders in the arts community, network with other vocalists, and, best of all, spend a few hours soaking in the sights of New York City.
Of course, even with this optimistic viewpoint, auditions are still daunting. In addition to overcoming nerves and performing well, singers have to deal with a myriad of uncontrollable factors, any of which might make the difference between a mediocre audition and a great audition. Late buses, lost music, spilt coffee, broken shoes—any of these minor disasters can add just enough stress to throw a singer off of his or her game.
If you have an audition, you can bet that Murphy’s Law will probably make an appearance. The trick is to resolve any unexpected catastrophes with a cool head (and a relaxed larynx). Here is a quick-fix guide to managing any scenario that might interfere with knocking ‘em dead at your audition.
There’s nothing worse than singing an audition without being properly warmed up, especially after a four hour ride in a frigid bus. You shouldn’t count on finding an available room at your audition venue, so reserve in advance and heading to one of these studios for a solid warm-up.
Run by a retired contralto who is always glad to help out young singers. Extra perks: Yeoryia’s lovely personality and a chance to discuss contralto repertoire. Rates run $15-20 per hour. Locations at 73rd and Broadway, 72nd and Broadway, and 48th Street. Call 917-608-9852 or 212-362-6415.
47 studios at 3 locations. Extra perks: wi-fi, air conditioning, and “harmonious environments.” Rates run $16-50 per hour. Locations at 72nd Street, 8th Avenue between 55th and 56th, and 8th Avenue between 36th and 37th. Call 212-799-5433 or visitwww.ripleygrier.com.
Super convenient because of its location (many summer programs hold their auditions there) but also always packed with singers. Extra perks: well-maintained pianos and a chance to size up your competition. Rates run $20 per hour. Located at 250 W 54th Street. Call 212-582-1417.
Astor Piano Rental/7th Avenue Studios
Conveniently close to NOLA Studios but without the plethora of opera singers. Extra perks: good pianos and nice people. Located at 853 7th Avenue. Call 212-586-9055.
With so much on your mind, it’s easy to forget a simple thing like making enough copies of your resume for your audition panel. Don’t panic: swing by Kinkos for some zippy do-it-yourself xeroxing. As an extra precaution, always carry a zip drive with your headshot, resume, and repertoire list, just in case you need to print on the go.
There are approximately 190 Kinkos/Fed Ex locations near NOLA Studios, including ones at 811 7th Avenue (at 53rd), 303 W 56th Street, and 200 W 57th Street. There are just as many locations near Penn Station, including ones at 326 7th Avenue, 500 7th Avenue, and 239 7th Avenue. Visit: www.fedex.com/us/office/
Lightning Copy Center
Boasting black/white copies for as low as 2.5 cents per page. Located at 60 E 42nd St. Open M-F 8:30am-6pm; weekend hours vary. Call 212.682-3530 or visit www.lightningcopy.com.
On the off-chance that you brought the wrong aria anthology by mistake, head to one of these music stores to pick up a replacement. Another option is to ask the other singers at your audition venue, but be prepared for added stress (and slight humiliation).
G. Schirmer’s Arias for Soprano runs $19.95. Located at 109 W 57th Street, 2nd floor. Open M-F 9am-6pm, Sa 9am-5pm. Call 212-799-8059 or visit www.DowlingMusic.com.
Frank Music Company
A thorough collection of classical music. G. Schirmer’s Arias for Soprano runs $29.95. Located at 250 W 54th Street (between 8th and Broadway), 10th floor. Open M-F 11am-5pm. Call 212-582-1999 or visit www.frankmusiccompany.com.
Audition attire is especially prone to disaster, particularly when you factor in jittery singers with overflowing cups of coffee. Baking soda and white vinegar (one teaspoon in one quart of cold water) are two possible solutions; if you are on a time crunch, dash to a local dry cleaners and see how quickly they can help you out.
A popular organic cleaners located on 12 E 33rd Street (between 5th and Madison). Extra perks: same-day washing and small repairs, plus free pick-up. Open M-F 7am-7pm, Sa 8am-6pm, Su closed. Call 212-889-8895.
GD 44 Street Cleaners
Good prices and quick service. Located at 160 E 44th Street (between Lexington and 3rd). Open M-F 7am-7pm, Sa 8am-6pm, Su closed. Call 212-286-9712.
Alpian’s Garment Care
A family-owned business that specializes in expensive garments (ie. audition dresses). Located on 328 E 48th Street (between 1st and 2nd). Extra perks: according to their website, you might run into Mariah Carey. Open M-F 7am-7pm, Sa 8am-5pm, Su closed. Call 212-753-7421 or 1-888-785-2775 or visit www.alpiansgarmentcare.com.
When it comes to shoe repair, it really depends on how much time you have. If your audition is in less than an hour, it’s best to buy a new pair and save the repairs for home.
Expert shoe repairs and $3 shines. Located at 222 E 41st Street (between Tunnel Exit Street and 2nd). Open M-Th 8:30am-6pm, F 8:30am-2pm. Call 212-867-7156 or visit www.cobblerexpress.com.
Specializes in repairing luxury shoes. Located at 10 W 55th Street. Open M-F 8am-7pm, Sa 10am-6pm, Su closed. Call 212-262-4823 or visit www.leatherspa.com.
Bakers Shoe Store
If you don’t have time for repairs, Bakers has a wide selection of dress shoes for women. Located at 358 5th Avenue (between 34th and 35th). Open M-Sa 9am-9pm, Su 11am-8pm. Call 212-867-4753 or visit www.bakersshoes.com.
Many singer catastrophes can be resolved by a simple trip to the drug store: head there for new stockings, make-up, cough drops, medicine, food, and more.
2 floors, plus a good selection of snacks. Located at 350 5th Avenue. Open 24 hours. Call 212-868-5659 or visit www.walgreens.com.
Known as CVS’s “flagship” store. Located at 150 E 42nd Street (between 3rd Avenue and Lexington Avenue). Open 24 hours. Call 212-661-8139 or visit www.cvs.com.