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Audition Oracle – Wed 18 Mar 2015 @ 12:00
A guide to securing auditions
Part1: Creating your one page CV
What is the most popular CV faux pax?
Spreading your CV over 2, 3 of 4 pages.
Yes really. Less is more. One page is all you need.
But what if I don't have much experience?
Spreading it out won't change that fact, it will highlight it.
What should I leave out?
Companies do not need to know every single oratorio, recital, opera and gala that you have sung in. Adding in when you last sang in the shower will often mask the good work that you have done, making you appear less experienced.
What should I leave in?
The information relevant to getting that job! Are they looking for a tax inspector? No - so don't tell them you were one before becoming a singer. It isn't useful, unless they need someone for the accounts. Save that for banter in the bar at a later date.
How do I maximise my chance of being seen?
Your CV has to get past administrative/casting assistants before it makes it on to the casting director’s desk.
Sometimes the directors don’t see it until you are in the audition room. Let’s put this in context - the casting assistant may receive approximately 350 applications for one soprano post! They do not have long to read every last detail on your CV and they are looking for some key prerequisites when sorting CVs into ‘yes’, ‘no’ and ‘maybe’. Make it easier rather than more difficult for people to spot the relevant information on your CV.
Desired prerequisites will vary from job to job and from company to company. So do your research. You have approximately 10 seconds to make the cut. If the first thing they can see is a cruise to Barbados, a pre-rugby match national anthem, and chorus for opera with an amateur dramatics society, they might not make it down to your more useful credit of Dorabella for English Touring Opera in 2015.
Where do I begin?
With your name, voice type, photo & contact details. You’re an artist so tailor your CV to your own style, but not at the expense of clarity.
Do I really have to include a photo?
Yes. A photo is now a must. We are constantly surprised by how many singers don’t include one. Ask yourself honestly: Is your photo up-to-date? Do you look good in it? It may be glamorous, full of personality and presence but is it really you? If the answer is no, update it. There is no point looking 25 in your headshot and arriving to the audition clearly looking double the age with a receding hair-line and a less svelte physique. The panel need to remember you from the audition and your picture helps with that process.
In this day and age, how you look is part of your unique selling point. Use it to your advantage. If you are a ‘bags ‘n’ bitches character, then don’t try to present the young ingénue in your photo. It isn't going to help you land those auditions for which you are perfect.
Can I use a production photo?
No, save them for your website.
Which contact details should I include?
Those that you are comfortable sharing, but a contact number and email tend to be expected.
- Check the details are correct!
- Address is optional but it is usually wise to include the country in which you reside and visa status if relevant
- Is your email easy to remember? If not, open a new account. It only takes five minutes.
How detailed should my voice type be?
They jury is out on this. We have received mixed feedback. Sometimes companies want to see your basic voice type – eg. soprano - and make their own decisions. Others want to know if you are a dramatic lyric coloratura.
- Either way, make sure the credits on your CV match up with your voice type. Don't confuse the panel
What experience should I include?
Your CV needs just a few key sections of information. If applying for opera roles, we suggest the following…
- FUTURE ENGAGEMENTS – people are always interested in what you have coming up. Leave the section off if that area is currently a little bare.
- OPERATIC ROLES or a similar heading depending on the type of CV you are creating
- LANGUAGES if relevant
- SKILLS if relevant to the work for which you're applying
FUTURE ENGAGEMENTS / EXPERIENCE
The panel are most interested in your roles so put them first. We suggest creating a table using the following headings: Role, Opera, Composer, Company, Date.
- Don’t be tempted to list every conductor, director and 2nd assistant on the project. People reading your CV are likely to know exactly who directed Meistersinger at Covent Garden in 2015
- Use a key, listed in the footer of the document to quantify cover, concert etc. - (Cover+ | Concert~) to save you space
- Think about the position for which you are applying. Are you looking for solo work? If so, don't list all your chorus experience. Likewise, if you are looking for a chorus contract, prioritise your chorus experience
- Does your experience make sense? If for example, you are a soubrette in a main house, including dramatic soprano roles with pro/am companies is not going to help you
COMPETITIONS, AWARDS, SCHOLARSHIPS
List relevant competitions, awards and scholarships where appropriate. The local amateur song competition you won at 17 is lovely but has no place on your CV. There is no need to put this section into a table.
First Prize, 6th International Opera Prize of the Antarctic, 2014
Sapling scholar 2013 – 2014
Be selective. Just include your conservatoire, or relevant education credits. A degree in languages is relevant - one in physics, less so, and A-Levels and GCSEs are sadly irrelevant. Again, no need to put this section into a table
Opera School (distinction), Royal Academy of Music, 2013 – 2015
Degree in music (1:1), Guildhall School of Music 2009 – 2013
Include fluent spoken languages. Do not list languages just because you have had a few language classes and are to German what Joey from Friends is to French.
In today’s climate, productions often involve more than just a good voice. Depending on what you are applying for, you may wish to add in dance or instrumental qualifications above a certain level. Grade 1 piano, however, isn't going to cut it.
Sight-reading. Can you really sight-read? Thrown in at the deep end on one-to-a-part polyphony, would you sink or swim? Don't claim you can sight-read if you can’t; play to your other strengths. Do work to improve the sight-singing though as it is a necessary skill for jobbing singers.
- Check for spelling errors and grammatical mistakes. Learn the difference between La Traviata and La traviata. Not sure which is right? A quick Google check will soon tell you
- Save the CV as your name e.g. ‘Josephine Bloggs Soprano CV’. Don’t save it as ‘autumn2015CVmel’
- Then, and this is really important, save it as a PDF. Always email it as a PDF. Don’t assume you are using the same word processor as the viewer; files can become corrupt as they are converted and your beautifully formatted CV scrambled
- Check it is ONE PAGE long and no phantom blank pages have elongated it
- Lastly, always take a CV with you to the audition. Mistakes do happen. Companies have been known to print out old CVs or lose them altogether - the staff are only human.
Follow these points and you stand a better chance of being on the correct side of the casting or administration teams. That means one step closer to that all important opera or choral audition.