Choosing Material can often be the difference between loving singing and hating it. I remember back to college when my voice teacher assigned me songs that I either disliked or was just not excited about. I kept feeling stuck with my voice because the material was just blah for me. The worst thing I did was wait for her to assign me something.
Cut to a few years out of school and living in New York City. I started researching and really figuring out what material I loved. Obviously, with auditions I often would be sent material to perform rather than singing from my book, but when I did get to sing from my book it felt like an extension of me.
Let me say this: You should love everything in your book. When you stop loving something, take it out. It’s totally ok to put something down for a while that isn’t serving you. Also, not everything you work on in lessons should be in your audition book. Some songs help you with vocal technique instead of with booking work. I have had MANY actors ask me lately how to find material. It’s an ongoing process, one that isn’t solved in an afternoon for sure. Here are a few ideas to help you in your process:
Listen to soundtracks, playlists, YouTube, singers on social media, etc.
SEE SHOWS – the more you know the easier this process will be
Go down the rabbit hole – start with one show and then follow the singer, the songwriter, lyricist, etc. and go, go, go. This is how I have come across many of my favorite songs.
TAKE CLASS + AUDITION
I have a list that I keep on my phone of material I hear in class and at auditions. Then I research the heck out of the material and see where that leads me.
I also add to this list when I hear songs on TV, in films, and on the radio.
LOOK THROUGH MUSICNOTES & STAGE AGENT
Musicnotes.com has an incredible collection of audition cuts that are pretty great. Definitely check out their Pop Song audition cuts from Sheri Sangers.
Stage Agent is very helpful with research about characters and cut options. Optional song options are given as well which help fine-tune your search.
Research concerts by certain songwriters (Jason Robert Brown, Scott Alan, Joey Contreras, etc.) and see what hits. Be careful here as lots of these songs will get done by many people, so you want to be thoughtful in your choices here.
Ask other singer friends what song they think you should sing. Sometimes our friends will know exactly the right thing.
ASK A VOCAL or REP COACH
After getting to know your coach, he/she/they should be able to offer some ideas. Again, this is a good jumping-off point and if you research after the suggestion you might find an even better song for you!
OTHER RESOURCESSheetMusicPlus, Performer Stuff, Google, Scribd, Reddit, Facebook Groups, Tumblr
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