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Words of Wisdom from Liz Callaway: Audition Insights and Vocal Guidance


Drew Lane shares his notes from a session with Broadway star Liz Callaway. 

Last year, during the Festival of Broadway, the amazing Liz Callaway (voice of Anya in Anastasia, Broadway star and recording artist) gave a singing masterclass for a group of singers, which myself and other guests were allowed to sit in on.  It was an amazing experience. Ms Callaway was extremely humble and insightful in her comments.

I stumbled across my notes from that session and thought it may be useful to put them here for you all to glean something from! These notes are very much about the performance of a singer and also the audition process.

1) Make a strong choice for who you’re singing the song for – have a focus, either in the audience or on stage.

2) Talk to the audition pianist first and then introduce yourself. Speak clearly.

3) Don’t ‘drift’ in your movement while singing. Stillness has a lot of power.

4) If the key of the song is wrong for you, change it.  But make sure the pianist is able to follow the change – rewrite the music in the new key or write the chords in the new key.

5) Don’t be afraid to throw out the rule book – surprise us!

6) What is it that makes you unique?

7) Don’t mess with good writing, and learn to know what is good and what isn’t.

8) Don’t be vague in your singing – be as specific as possible.

9) If you’re singing the same (or similar) lyric, make it different each time.  Find the different thoughts. Why do you repeat the lyric?

10) Don’t ‘oversing’. Don’t be afraid just to speak it.

11) Sing the correct rhythm of the song first, before thinking of changing it. There’s usually a reason it’s written that way.

12) Think about subtext. Don’t get lulled into pretty happy music. But don’t put subtext on the surface. Don’t sing a sad song, but have the sadness underneath.

13) If you don’t know what the song is about, don’t sing it.  You need to know where it’s coming from.

14) You age and maturity needs to match the level in the song.

15) Embrace what you’re good/castable as

16) Don’t make your gestures more interesting than you and your acting.

17) Don’t break musical thoughts in half, act through musical breaks.

18) Don’t wait until you start singing to start acting.

19) Make sure your diction is clear. Don’t get caught up in singing vowels.

20) Don’t be afraid to be crass or unclassy if the song calls for it. Enjoy it!

There’s 20 great points there and I hope you got something out of it! As always, leave a comment!

Until next time,
Blog ya later.

Photo by: LifeSupercharger 

Drew has written 33 articles on AussieTheatre
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