Thanks for your interest in auditioning for DeCadence! Here are some frequently asked questions (and answers!) about auditioning for our group.
How often do you normally hold auditions?
Generally speaking, we hold open auditions for all voice parts 2-3 times a year: at the beginning of both semesters and if need be, at the end of Spring semester. However, if we have a solid number of members remaining in the group we may wait until spots open up before holding another round of auditions. DeCadence is holding auditions in August/September 2013 for the Fall 2013 semester.
What type of experience do I need to join the group?
While the experience of our members varies, you will need to have good intonation/pitch, be able to learn music relatively quickly, and be able to carry your part in a group of other people singing different parts. It is a requirement that our members come into the group already knowing how to read sheet music. Another important trait is the ability to work in a team–we’re an a cappella group, not just a bunch of soloists! Feel free to shoot us an email for clarification on any of the above.
How many people will you be taking?
DeCadence never has a set number of members. We like to average around 14-16 members at once, but in the past we have had as many as 19 at a time, and there are currently 15 continuing members in the group. Rest assured that if you audition for us, and we feel that you are fully qualified to be in the group, we will take you even if we end up with a larger number of members in a certain section.
How does the Auditions process work?
Our auditions consist of two parts. Our first round auditions are run by 4-5 members at a time, and are individually scheduled. If you make it to the next round, we’ll invite you to our Callback Auditions, a day of musical fun with the entire group!
It is very important to our group that our members are skilled both vocally and musically, which is why we have such a comprehensive auditions process.
What does the first-round audition entail?
We try our best to give everyone a complete and fair first round audition. To get a holistic assessment of your vocal and musical abilities, we test various essential skills, which may include, but are not limited to, vocal range, tonal memory, musicianship, and sight-reading. Finally, we kick back and listen to your prepared solo. There may be more things we test, but this is the basic format. The first round audition lasts around 15 minutes.
What do I need to bring to the audition?
Just prepare a verse and a chorus of a song that shows off your voice well. It would be well worth picking a song ahead of time and practicing it to be sure you know the words and all that, and we’d prefer that you choose a song in the same range of genres that we perform. We’d be especially happy if you could download, print, and fill out the pdf audition form or Word audition form.
Where are the auditions?
Auditions will be held in Morrison Hall on UC Berkeley campus, in the bottom floor practice rooms. Specific meeting locations will be announced as auditions get closer.
How can I prepare for my audition?
Come early and warm up by yourself so that you sing your very best! Sing loudly and confidently, being as accurate as you can when it comes to pitch. Practice singing with straight tone (i.e. without vibrato). Depending on the style, you may use vibrato during your solo, but when when we do warm-ups and other exercises with you we’ll ask you to refrain; a cappella groups in general avoid the use of vibrato in order to keep uniform tone quality and blend that conforms with the style.
Practice singing your solo a cappella, making sure to sing it in a key that is comfortable for your own voice. First and foremost, DeCadence is a singing group, but it is also essential to be a dynamic performer, so please keep this in mind throughout the auditions process! Select a piece that is representative of your strengths and overall abilities as a vocalist, and learn the lyrics so that you have less to focus on besides singing! And don’t worry if you “mess up” at any point during your audition, we look at your skills as a whole, without using any sort of point system.
Do I need to know how to read sheet music?
Because we are a college student group and rehearse only a few hours a week, we do expect our members to be able to read sheet music. (We often learn a large amount of music in a short amount of time, and doing this without knowing how to read music can be very demanding/difficult.)
If you’re uncomfortable with reading or learning music relatively quickly, consider enrolling in Music 20A -Basic Musicianship, which is open to all undergraduates. We have had multiple members in the past who have taken the Music 20A/B series and re-auditioned to make it into the group with their newly acquired musical skills.
What song should I sing for my audition?
Just choose a song that you’re comfortable singing that shows us your strengths as a soloist, whether it be controlled long notes, a certain style, belting, diva runs, jazzy trills, falsetto, or any or none of the above. There’s no need to do anything outside of your comfort zone to “impress us”–we’d be more impressed with a ‘simple’ song that is sung with great vocal control than a shaky performance of a ‘difficult’ song. In the past, people have sung Pop, Top 40, Rock, Jazz, Musical Theater, R&B, contemporary–basically anything with an easy-to-follow melody. Please, however, sing in English, and we prefer auditionees to avoid singing classical/opera styles for their audition. You can see what songs our own members auditioned on in their individual member pages.
Callbacks will be held all day on Sunday, September 8. If we call you back, we’ll ask you to keep that day free so that you have a chance to come in and sing with us! This day will be very similar to your first round audition, with some additional and more advanced exercises, which include singing music that we’ll have asked you to prepare in advance for us, blending exercises, and other things that will help us get to know you and your voice better.
What kind of time commitment is involved?
While many of our members are involved in multiple activities on campus, it is important to note that being a member of DeCadence is a significant time commitment. You must be able to attend our rehearsals 6:30-9:00pm on Mondays and 7:00-9:30pm Wednesdays, as well as our weekly Sather Gate performance, Wednesdays 11:10 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. In addition, we have several other performances every month and a big concert at the end of each semester. All members are also expected to contribute in the group’s administrative duties and campus publicity. Some of our members like to compare the time commitment to taking a 3-4 unit class, depending on what we have going on that semester. Additionally, while there is no set rule, we do generally expect our members to make a yearlong commitment when joining the group. But as any DeCadence member will tell you, the hours we spend together tend to be the most enjoyable hours of our week, and all of us have gained friendships and shared experiences that we’ll treasure for the rest of our lives. =)
I have a schedule conflict with rehearsals and/or the weekly Sproul performance. Can I still audition?
Yes, but please be sure to let us know about any conflicts you have during your audition and make a note of it on your audition sheet. While every schedule conflict is treated on a case-by-case basis, we still encourage you to audition for us. Alternatively, you can also choose to audition for the group in a later semester. Know that while we try our best to accommodate our members’ busy schedules, we do expect all our members to be fully committed to the group. If you have any questions about this, you can email us at email@example.com or ask us in person at your audition.
I am currently a high school student will be an incoming Freshman at Cal (or FPF) in Fall 2013. Can I still audition at the end of this school year?
Yes, we welcome incoming freshmen to audition, as long as you have already submitted your SIR (Statement of Intent to Register). However, you must be able to make both the first round and callback auditions in person. Furthermore, we recommend that you do your research on the different a cappella groups and activities here at Cal before auditioning–joining an a cappella group during your first semester at Berkeley is fun and manageable, but definitely a large undertaking. If you’re uncertain that you’d be able to commit this far before the semester, you can always wait a few months to audition in the Fall, when we will definitely still be holding auditions for all voice parts.
Is it okay to re-audition in another semester if I don’t make it into the group the first time?
Yes! Many of our current and past members in the group didn’t make it into the group until their second or third time auditioning. It is for this exact reason that we give every auditionee a comprehensive audition that tests range, tonal memory, sightreading, and solo ability; this allows us to give every singer personalized feedback on what we’d like to see them work on should they decide to audition again.
Does DeCadence demand the first-born child like the UC Men’s Octet does?
No, unlike the Octet, we do not demand your first-born child (unless they have a strong voice). We do, however, demand plenty of hugs and public displays of affection.
Good luck, and thanks for being interested in auditioning for us!