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"Thanks, But No Thanks" - Dealing With Audition Rejection

Here at Rising Stars we talk a lot about auditioning. We are a performing arts organization, after all. We discuss what and how to prepare for an audition, what to wear, how to format your resume, how to interact with the panel, how to manage nerves. Today's post, however, deals with something that happens after the audition - the sometimes highly-anticipated, sometimes dreaded, OUTCOME.

After you audition for something, one of two things usually happens:

1. You get the gig. Whether you land the lead role or were simply chosen as an understudy, the director/company/whoever liked you enough to offer you something.

2. You don't get the gig. Whether they were seriously considering you or not, they ultimately went with someone else.

Facing the first outcome can feel euphoric, motiviating, and can do wonders for your self-esteem. The second outcome... well, not so much.

Facing rejection from an audition can be really tough. Nobody likes to talk about it because it feels painful to us. This is a perfectly natural reaction: you put in hours of hard work, and then gather the necessary courage to present your final product to a group of complete strangers, only to have them say, "thanks, but no thanks."

But since this is something that every performer faces at least once in his or her lifetime, we might as well talk about how to handle it. Because it CAN be handled.

When you find yourself in this less-than-desirable situation, there are two important things to keep in mind:

1. Rejection will always be frustrating. Like performance nerves, the frustration can be managed, but it never completely goes away. (Not if you care about what you're doing, that is.)

2. Every single successful performer - every single one - has faced rejection at some point in his or her career. If someone tells you that they have never, ever been rejected from anything at all in their entire life, I can assure you that they are lying.

Dealing with rejection is mostly about perspective and balance. You need to approach the audition with the right mindset (which may vary, depending on the audition), and reflect upon the outcome in light of the larger picture.

Approaching the Audition

Sometimes we have a pretty good sense of how we will be received in an audition. If you're auditioning for someone who knows you, has heard you before, or has expressed interest in you in the past, then it's often reasonable to expect some kind of positive result. Most of the time, however, this is simply not the case - we usually don't know the panelists personally and/or exactly what they are looking for in a candidate. It is especially important to keep this latter part in mind: while you do not want to appear apologetic or defeatist, you must be realistic about the fact that you just may not be what the panel are looking for.

It's very easy as an auditionee to get wrapped up in a desperate desire to please the panelists. However, trying to get inside their heads and "figure out" what they "really want" is ultimately to your detriment. Don't decide to change something about your performance last-minute just because you think that's what the panel wants. Perform what you've practiced and what you know you can do best. That way, if the panel says "no thanks," you can at least take pride in the fact that you performed your unique best, and not a compromised, un-rehearsed version of it that was hastily decided upon in a moment of panic.

While the ultimate goal of most auditions is to "get the gig," setting smaller, more attainable goals for your audition can help to keep you focused on what matters. It can be a goal such as making sure every breath is released, or that you stay physically grounded the whole time, or that you will have consistent visual focal points throughout your piece. That way, even if you get the dreaded "no thanks," you will feel like you've still accomplished something you've set out to do.

Dealing With the Outcome

If the panel tells you "no thanks," it's natural to feel anything from mild frustration to devastation, depending on the situation. If you're new to the auditioning game, your first instinct may be to give up or stop practicing for a while. However, this is probably the worst thing you could do. Instead, take some time to re-focus your goals and decide where you want to improve.

Here are some things you might reflect on:

  • Was this particular audition really important to you? If so, why?

  • If you are really upset, why do you feel this way? Is it because you felt your performance was lacking, or because you simply expected a different result or reaction from the panel?

  • What can you improve upon for next time? Technique? Presentation? Deportment? Choose something specifc.

  • If you had high hopes for this audition, why was that so? Did you perhaps get your hopes too high?

  • Did anything positive come out of the audition? For example, did the panel indicate that they liked you and/or invite you to sing for them again, despite not choosing you this time around? Did you make a valuable new connection? Was it a personally or professionally valuable experience in some other way?

After giving these things some thought, the best thing you can do is to get right back on the horse. Think about your new goals and improvements you want to make, and set to work. Look for the next best opportunity to perform or audition. Look for several opportunities, if you can. The point is to focus your energy toward something positive and directed, which will give you a renewed sense of purpose and motivation.

Above all, don't take a rejection personally. If the people are true professionals, then it's probably not personal. And if you really, truly feel that it is, then these people are probably not worth your time and you should not sing for them again. Problem solved.

Focusing on the Positive

It's important to remember that sometimes, a rejection is not once-and-for-all. Even if they did not choose you this time around, the panel may still have really liked you. If you feel that they reacted positively to your performance, it is probably worth your time to sing for them again in the future. Chances are they'd love to hear you again in a year or two and see how you've improved. Which leads me to my second point here:

The panel want to see you succeed. They do not wish for you to fail. They want to see you do your best, even if your best may not be exactly what they are looking for at that particular moment. They want to see something that is unique, imaginative, and authentic. They will be more pleased to see something that is truly you than to see you attempt to do what you "think" they want.

Ultimately, a successful audition is one in which you are prepared and focused, and perform your best. So keep practicing, and keep the passion alive!

#Auditions #Performing #Professionalism #competitions #singing #practicing

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