Over the course of the next couple of weeks, I shall be returning once again to Memphis to play for the Unified Professional Theatre Auditions (UPTA), as well as heading to Knoxville to play for the Southeastern Theatre Conference (SETC) Professional Division Auditions. This will mark my 20th(!) anniversary playing for UPTA, and my 25th(!!!) with SETC. That amounts to about 35,000 (give or take) auditions from those two conferences alone; and that is on top of the auditions I play regularly outside of those two weekends in February and March.

To mark this joint milestone, I want to pass along a couple of things I have learned over the past 25 years. Things I have learned from and about myself as an audition pianist, as a collaborator. Things I have learned from the various company reps who sit in on those auditions looking to hire Actors for their upcoming seasons. Things I have learned from the Actors – from You.

Over the course of the next few weeks, I will be posting some text-based tidbits via my social media channels: @JoseSPiano. While some of these audition tips could apply to any audition, they will be geared toward the combined, 60-90 second variety. Some will consist of just a few select words. Some will consist of a few words along with a bit of detail and information in the comments. Some will undoubtedly come across as “tough love”, or even a bit snarky. Please know that they all come from a place of admiration of and for the Actor, and a true desire for everyone to have as good an audition experience as possible on any given day.

I consider myself your partner at the piano during an audition. The difference being that I am not the one performing for “the table” in order to get seen for a callback, or, eventually, book a gig. As I joke in my briefing speech:

“This is your audition, not mine…
I have work…”
(then I nervously wait for the laughs)

But I do mean that. The people behind the table are ultimately watching and listening to you. Not me.

The amount of practical(!) preparation needed is quite minimal in comparison to everything else that needs to be accomplished before you step up to me at the piano. Alas, I’ve come to find and learn that some of the non-personal, truly objective advice seems to get lost among all the other parts of one’s audition prep: voice lessons, song selection, vocal and acting coaching, choosing what to wear, figuring out what to do with your hands.

As with all advice, use what you can, and discard what you don’t think will be useful to you. If you have a question or need a bit of clarification, do not hesitate to ask. I will do my best to respond in a timely manner.

And a bit of a disclaimer: while I am associated with both UPTA and SETC, I am not acting on behalf of either organization with this series of (hopefully) helpful hints — although some of them have also been shared by them. I am doing this for you. I am doing this for me. I want you to have a good audition. I want to have a good time accompanying your audition.

See you in Memphis!
See you in Knoxville!
See you at the piano!

Thank You,
Jose

#JCS20UPTA25SETC