50 Tips To Win And Prepare For Singing Competitions

So, you want to get on Rising Star, American Idol, The Voice, America’s Got Talent, or any other singing competition? Congratulations, you can do it!

There are many Ken Tamplin Vocal Academy students who have enjoyed singing in competitions and the singing lessons they have taken with us really improved their experience!

Here are 50 POWERFUL TIPS to help you prepare and WIN singing competitions.

Make sure to bookmark this page and come back to it whenever you enter any singing competition!

1-10

#1  Pick something well within your range, that you are comfortable with.  Don’t try to do something you can only do perfectly 1 out of 3 times, pick something you can do exceptionally  3 out of 3 times.

#2  Pick something as original as best as possible. Unless you know for certain that you can contribute something unique to a song that is getting beaten to death by countless other contestants, find something that will make you stand out.

#3  Practice in front of as many people as possible BEFORE your competition. INCLUDING WHAT YOU ARE GOING TO SAY.

#4  Be prepared to answer questions directed toward you and be reasonably lively.  Don’t be shy, but don’t be over the top silly.  For example: I give singing lessons to a girl named ‘Susan Boyle”.  Not thee Susan Boyle.  I told her, when they asked her name to answer with a smile and say “I’m The “Other” Susan Boyle.”

#5  Have fun. If you’re not having fun, they will smell it a mile away and they won’t have fun either.

#6  Be yourself. Be OK with who you are. Have confidence in that.

#7  Don’t treat this audition as “the only one you’ll get.”  Don’t think of this as you last or only chance. This is NOT true.  Know that this is just one of many.  This will help with nerves and confidence.

#8  Warm Up 30 minutes before you go on. Make sure your giving yourself your best chance for success.

#9  Don’t eat 1 hour prior to your singing performance. This way you won’t have gastrointestinal issues.  But do eat.  It’s easy with all the excitement
to forget to eat and be weak come showtime.

#10 Sell yourself. Let them know why you deserve to be there above the pack. Find a funny or even heart warming story.  They LOVE sappy stuff like this 🙂


11-20

#11 Don’t treat the judges like they are gods. They are people just like you. Treat them with respect but don’t venerate them. It makes you less valuable.

#12 Don’t think of the judges as people who hate you. This is FAR from the case. They WANT you to do well. They are rooting FOR YOU not AGAINST YOU. Accept and enjoy that and let it show in your audition.

#13 Be ready to give them more. Don’t have only one piece. It’s like a dog that can only do one trick. They want people that have diversity. Be ready for that if and when you are called on. Have your second and even third pieces as rehearsed as the first.

#14  Leave them wanting more. Don’t kill them with your song. Find a good way to get quickly from the verse to a chorus. To kill them with the whole verse is not smart. Get to a climax.

#15  Know your competition. Look around. See who you are up against. Think of ways to stand out. If there are 900 people all singing Adele, what makes you any different?

#16 Know your audience, be true to the appeal you have. Don’t try to be all things to everyone. Be selective and understand who you are trying to sell yourself to. Make musical and visual choices based on that.

#17  Be gracious and winsome. Win over the judges with something charming about yourself.

#18  No carbonated beverages. This will cause stomach issues when performing.

#19  Don’t change songs at the last minute. MANY people make this mistake. Go with what you have practiced. It is your best chance for you best performance.

#20  Don’t just stand there like a lump on a log.  When singing, sing like you mean it. Don’t scare yourself “stiff”. Move a little.


21-30

#21  Look the judges square in the eye.  Sing to them like you are looking into a camera.  They will smell it if you look away or shut your eyes.  They NEED to know you will look good on camera, so treat them like they are the camera.

#22  Try to find something “witty” to say.  Avoid they stereotype of the dumb blond personality.  Be quick on your feet and quick to respond when called on.

#23  Get plenty of rest the night before.  I know I am stating the obvious but you would be surprised how many people walk in with baggy eyes and low energy from not giving themselves enough rest.

#24  Record your song many times over and listen back to it.  Often when we sing we don’t realize things that are wrong until we hear them back.  Critique yourself.  Don’t wait the the proverbial “next” from the judges to do that for you.

#25  Know yourself as an artist and “know” the artists you are covering.  If you choose Adele, know “her influences”. Etta James, Aretha Franklin, Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald.  So when judges ask you “why did you choose Adele” (as they are thinking in their minds…along with 1,000 other people) you can give an answer they have not heard.  It make make you look “deep” and that there is more to you than just singing an Adele song.

#26  Hold on to the audition loosely.  As I said before, this won’t be your only audition if you “go for it”.  There will be many.  So even if you are not one of “the chosen ones”, learn from your experience and what you can do better the next time.  These judges are quite used to seeing people come back multiple times and embracing that.

#27  Give the judges what they want.  Know your show you are going after.  Don’t walk in and think it’s only covering an Adele song that is going to “get you the gig”.  KNOW THE SHOW and what has “worked” on the show.  Try to temper and chameleon yourself to the criteria that specific show is looking for.

#28  Dress to impress. Don’t walk in with blue jeans and a white T and expect to be viewed as a “star”.  That ain’t gonna happen.

#29  Leave them with something special about yourself.  Something they can remember you by.  A slogan, a phrase, a well placed comment…

#30  When done performing, don’t linger. Don’t make them kick you out of the room.  Almost leave “like you have somewhere else to go”. Lingering means begging.  If you have self respect, they will respect you too.


31-40

#31  Hydrate yourself. Very important. Room temperature bottled or filtered water.

#32  Avoid caffeine. It will dry you out, make you jittery, (it actually “shrinks your veins” which can make it hard to breathe) and is a central nervous system stimulant and a diuretic, which means it increases urination.

#33  Go to the bathroom before your audition. Even if you don’t feel like you have to. Don’t get stuck in the room “waiting” and feeling “that feeling” before and during your audition.

#35  Get honest critique from people you trust. Ask them what they honestly think. Don’t go to friends “who love you” and will only tell you how great you are. Get honest good advice. On the flip side, don’t get advice from negative people. They will only bring you down and put doubts in your mind.

#36 Video tape yourself if possible. Watch what the judges will see. You would be surprised at weird things we do (i.e. the way we hold our hands, the way we stand, the way we flip our hair… you name it)

#37 Practice in front of a mirror if you can.  This may sound narcissistic but it really isn’t. It will help you see yourself as they will see you.

#39  Don’t try or do anything on the day of your performance you wouldn’t do on a “normal day”. Here’s what I mean by this: Your throat is a little dry so you’re “desperate” to do something to correct it. Someone gives you a “throat spray” to help with “dry throat”… DON’T DO IT! Go with what you know you are used to. Don’t rely on elixirs. Often they can hurt more than help.

#40.  Give yourself permission to not be perfect. Yes; work as hard as you can to be great. But come showtime, NO ONE is perfect. Give yourself permission to be human.


41-50

#41  IF YOU MAKE A MISTAKE, 2 things: Don’t beat yourself up in front of the judges.  It will show immaturity.  Instead find a funny or light hearted way to either a “re-start” OR it is what it is and “I would be happy to do this again” with confidence.  They know you are a bit nervous and believe it or not do have a heart and some grace.  OR make fun of it “during” and shrug it off and wow them with the rest. Don’t paralyze yourself with a mistake.  AGAIN: NO ONE is perfect.

#42 (#2 of “2 things) In the same spirit of “IF YOU MAKE A MISTAKE” even if you totally “blow it” and don’t make the audition it’s not the end of the world. DON’T BEAT YOURSELF UP OVER IT!  Stop whining.  Pick yourself up, learn from your mistakes and move on.  THIS is what makes a great performer.

#43  Know your limitations. Don’t try to be something you are not.  If you are not good at soul and blues licks, don’t let yourself be judged against the soul brutha next to you that will out do you.  Stay within the realm of what you are good at. Pick things that make you shine.

#44  IF YOU DON’T KAKE THE CUT: DON’T ASSUME IT’S BECAUSE YOU DID POORLY. Often times producers are just “looking for something different”. Often times they have already picked out in their mind the “the winner” is going to be let’s say… a country artist.  So don’t assume it’s because you walked out thinking you did well, weren’t picked and you blame it on yourself. I can’t tell you how many times I have had students leave one audition and not make the cut, and go to another audition SINGING THE EXTACT SAME SAME WITH THE SAME PERFORMANCE LEVEL and make it all the way…because that happened to be the flavor the producer was looking for.

#45  Use your imagination. Don’t do the same things everyone else is doing. There is a big world with LOTS of ways of presenting yourself.  Prove to them YOU ARE AN ARTIST.  And what do artists do? They create.  Create not only greatness, but create uniqueness. THIS is what they are looking for.

#46  Spend time on your instrument (voice). Get good technique.  Spend the time.  Spend the money.  It’s your most precious asset.  Work on it hard. Integrate it so much that it is second nature. THIS will help you rise above the rest.

#47  Congratulate those who have done well. Celebrate their hard work and their success.

#48  Be a gracious “loser”.  You can never really be a loser if you are gracious because they will welcome your coming back and trying again.

#49  Stay true to yourself. Don’t sing things and lyrics you don’t believe in. Sing about things you are passionate about.

#50  Pray before you go on and ask that God will give you the strength to be all you can be. Not for your own glory which is very unsatisfying. But for HIS glory. To use your talent for something beyond yourself and to the inspiration of others to do the same.


Videos to help you prepare to win singing competitions:

Ready To Learn How To Sing Better Than Anyone Else?

Get-Started-with-Ken-Tamplin-Vocal-Academy

Ed Sheeran - Thinking Out Loud (cover - Ken Tamplin)
Can Anyone Sing?
Online Singing Lessons
How To Sing Like Freddy Mercury