Three Reasons Your Audition Song Isn’t Working


There are many reasons your audition song may not be working but you may be surprised that it often has little to do with your voice. Memorizing a song doesn’t mean you’re ready to perform it any more than knowing the parts of a car makes you ready to drive one.

Zeroing in on what your issues may be is the first step to giving better auditions, getting more callbacks and booking more jobs. Among the many possibilities, here are 3 reasons your audition song isn’t working.

You’re not asking the right questions

I have about 30 questions I ask when working on a new lyric and those always lead to more questions. But this a short article so here are three basic questions you should ask if you want to make your work clearer, more specific and more interesting.

*Who are you talking to and what do they mean to you?  Go big with this. Instead of saying she’s “a girl I like” try “my soul mate” or “the most beautiful girl I’ve ever met” or “the only girl I could ever love.”

*What do you desperately need from them?  Don’t settle for your first easy answer. Dig deeper and keep asking yourself why you need that until you arrive at the essential need that’s unfulfilled.

*What’s stopping you from getting it?  It could either be something inside of you, like you’ve been badly burned by love before and you’re afraid to love again; or it could be something outside yourself like an act of nature, someone physically blocking your path or an authority figure telling you “no.”

You’re not really seeing anything

Think of your audition song as a scene from your own personal movie and create it in glorious Technicolor. Include as much vivid detail as a feature film would have. You’re the director, casting director, art director, location scout, costume designer and director of photography all in one. It’s your movie. The people, place and objects you choose to surround yourself with must be personally meaningful to you so that you’re affected emotionally by what you see, hear, smell, taste and touch. You can use places from your past like your childhood home, the place you got your first real kiss, your first amusement park or your high school.


See your movie in front of you and step into it. Let yourself breathe and feel what it’s like to be there. Let your body respond to how it all makes you feel then let the circumstances drive you to fight like hell to get what you need from the person you’re talking to.

It’s not a solo. It’s a dialogue

Each line is your best attempt to get them to do what you need them to do. But you can’t possibly say the next line without first knowing what they said or did. Did they laugh at you? Smile? Apologize? Turn their back on you? You have to receive and react to what they’ve done before you respond to it with your next line. By engaging in an active dialogue with them, we’ll see you responding to someone instead of acting to no one.

Another reason your song might not be working is you may have chosen the wrong song in the first place. To help you fix that problem, download my free guide “How to Choose an Audition Song” here.


All my best,


Philip Hernandez is a respected acting teacher and singing coach in NYC. He is also the only actor in Broadway history to play both Jean Valjean and Inspector Javert in Les Miserables. He created principal roles in Broadway’s Kiss of the Spiderwoman and Paul Simon’s The Capeman. You may also know him from his many television appearances: The Blacklist, Gotham, Blue Bloods, The Path, Bull, Nurse Jackie, Elementary, Person of Interest, Law and Order, Hostages and Damages to name a few. For information about acting lessons CLICK HERE or singing lessons CLICK HERE

Follow him on twitter @philip24601, on Instagram @philip24601 and on Facebook at @philip24601.

3 thoughts on “Three Reasons Your Audition Song Isn’t Working

  • Amadou

    Think of your audition song as sense from yours personal movie, and create it in glorious technicolor nice! My life is movie my the qualitys of my thinking, compassion, love, trust, beauty, freedom, creativity, and sense of abundance possibilities, am confused, we are all unique different, waw nice i have something different that I can do something in movie, I have quality

  • Amber Peters

    This. I will be using your article to help me prep for two concerts this weekend. I have a new solo to memorize and polish by then. Thank you! It was not a coincidence that this came to my inbox tonight. I don’t believe in coincidence! 🙂

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