Sing-Along: Three Tips for the Assistant Music Director Application

3 tips for assistant music director application

Nothing can make or break a musical like the music director. Every musical number hinges on her/his ability to interpret the script, teach the material, coach the performers, and manage the instrumentalists. Audiences come to a musical expecting to be blown away by gorgeous sweeping vocals. (There’s a reason why “Defying Gravity” is still going strong after over fifteen years.) If you’re considering a career in music direction, join NTSA’s team this summer as an assistant music director. Check out our top three tips for aspiring music directors and learn how to ace your application!

1. Showcase Your Accompanist Chops.

The first thing we’re looking for is someone who has solid piano skills. Since the music director provides accompaniment for every rehearsal, we need to make sure that you can plunk out a tune (or two . . . or three . . . or, let’s be honest, many many more). So hit us with your best material! Play something challenging with variations in tempos and keys. Think about if you were an audition accompanist; what’s the song you would least want a performer to spring on you? Like you’d see that sheet music in the actor’s hand and think: “OH NO.” That’s the song we want to hear you play.

2. Do the Optional Vocal Coaching Video (Preferably with Someone Else).

You only need to submit an accompanist video in order to be considered for an assistant music director position. But we highly recommend that you also submit the optional vocal coaching video and that, if at all possible, you coach another singer to perform (instead of singing the piece yourself). As a music director, your biggest responsibility will be teaching the performers all of the vocal music for the production. So pick out one of your friends (who’s an incredible singer) and teach her a new piece of music. You might even want to do a before-and-after video where you include a few seconds of her attempting to sing the piece before you teach and coach her at the beginning of the video. That’s always a good way of demonstrating the “value add” that you could bring to a production.

3. Show Us How You “Color” a Song By Going Traditional.

Don’t worry about tracking down some obscure musical theatre song that we’ve never heard of before for this assignment. We’d actually prefer if you went traditional and played something that we all know. For instance, we all know “Still Hurting” from The Last Five Years — both the Sherie Rene Scott 2002 version and the Anna Kendrick 2015 version (okay, and the Betsy Wolfe 2013 Second Stage version). We’d much rather hear how you “color” a song that we all know — how you show us a different interpretation, how you create subtle distinctions between your version and the versions that we all know and love. (The key here is “subtle.”) Make sure that every decision you make is in service of the text — that all of your choices build the characters, develop the plot, set the mood, and/or reveal an “a-ha!” moment or an emotional revelation.

Once you've filmed your favorite musical number on piano, CLICK HERE to submit your work to NTSA!

Posted on Dec 27, 2017 in Auditions  

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