Self-Tape Advice for Musical Theatre Auditionees

Find out what to prepare for your self tape auditions this year for ArtsEd's Musical Theatre courses.

For entry in September 2021, we’re asking those auditioning for Musical Theatre courses to record themselves singing a pre-1965, legit ballad and a contemporary musical theatre song, both no longer than one minute in length each. You are also required to perform and film two separate dance routines (one technical and one performance), these routines will be sent to you via video once you have applied. You are not required to provide an acting monologue for your first round audition.

Here are the main things you should know:

  • We advise you to make the song your own and not attempt to copy a cast recording or something you might find on YouTube.
  • Musical Theatre auditionees must also submit a video of three short dance exercises, examples of which are sent to you when you register to apply.


Here are some questions applicants have asked us before, answered by our current Musical Theatre students. We hope these help!

Q: What are the panel looking for?

A: For the first round, the panel really want to get a sense of who you are. They are looking for three key things:

  1. Individuality
  2. Trainability, meaning ‘Potential’
  3. Warmth and Sincerity

They are not looking for the finished article, so don’t feel that you have to submit the ‘perfect’ video!


Q: What is an ident?

A: An ident is just a simple introduction that you will deliver to camera before you perform your songs. A clear ident is essential. You just say your name and the name of the song you’re singing, but also show a bit of your personality. Be relaxed but confident. And deliver your ident straight to camera.


Q: What sort of background should I use for my self-tape?

A: A neutral background is preferred. Where possible, the panel do not want to be distracted by your bedroom behind you – they want to concentrate on you. If you can’t avoid using your bedroom, make sure it’s tidy!


Q: Should I sing to the camera or look to the side?

A: Your song does not have to be directed straight to camera, unless the character is directly addressing the audience, which is rare. You can look just over the camera, or to the left or right. Whatever you choose, keep it natural.


Q: Should I do a ‘TV performance’ because it’s a self-taped audition?

A: No, doing a screen performance would be a mistake! Although this is a recorded audition, the panel are looking for theatricality, not a TV performance. But don’t go over the top just for the sake of it – keep the performance appropriate to the space you are singing in. If you’re singing in a small room, don’t perform as though you’re on a huge stage.


Q: Should I dress as the character?

A: No, there is no need to dress in costume or wear stage make-up. Smart/casual is recommended and any make-up should be natural and only used to show your natural features. Definitely no glitter!


Q: Should I film in close up or different angles and cut them together?

A: No, please do not do not do this! Just film from one position, and if you’re using a phone, film in ‘landscape’ to avoid those black lines on either side of your video. And do not film in close up. The panel need to see your whole body so they can look at your posture and see how you breathe when you’re singing. Don’t do any editing or try to put different recordings together.


Q: How many takes do you recommend I do to get the best one?

A: Honestly, don’t overthink it! If you keep doing take after take, you’ll wear yourself out and start making mistakes. Two or three should be plenty to select the one you want to submit with your application. Remember, the panel isn’t looking for perfection.


Any final tips?

Be picky about who you get advice from about your application and your self-tape. Parents and friends are full of good intentions, but unless they understand the audition process, they won’t be much help! Ask someone who knows what drama schools are looking for, or if you’re really struggling get in touch with ArtsEd and ask for advice.

Enjoy yourself, as this will shine through. Good luck!

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