OUT OF BODY EXPERIENCE
A novice's guide to a Praise Team Audition
Last week my question to Carey Dean should not have been "why did you put me on the praise team?" but instead, should have been... "What happens in a praise team audition?"... Because I didn't have a clue!
Having just experienced my first (and prayerfully last) praise team audition, I'm writing this so Ministers of Music everywhere can be sensitive to future vocal auditions with people who... say... played in a marching band and read music, but have NO vocal experience whatsoever. They should refrain from using catchy vocal terms for things that pierce through the ear of the auditioner and send signals of fear and danger to the brain... immediately releasing adrenaline, causing hyperventilation, and the ever unattractive nervous pee-pee dance!
If said victim, er, auditioner actually gets through the short chorus he/she/it have sung (with the goat voice that is so shaky, it can't even be passed off as vibrato) do NOT be like an esteemed panel member Jon Rushing who will say... "You know... I'm hearing something in there... sing that again, but really belt it out". This does NOTHING to put your auditioner at ease... instead, he/she/it begins to mentally journey to their "happy place"... but when they reach it, they discover their happy place has been temporarily closed and find themselves on a detour into the deepest recesses of "the pit".
If you do choose to put your prey, er... auditioner, through this third level of hell, you should note that such actions will bring about a certain child-like "deer in the headlights" gaze from the person who is standing on the backside of the piano. The barrier is both physical and mental and the auditioner comes to the horrible realization that he/she/it is going to have to sing that song again. (Kudos to my empanelled friend Requelle... who was looking out for me and suggested that Alexis, world-renowned accompanist and now a praise team director, drop the song down a couple of steps). He/she/it will determine that they'll not "tag" the ending... they just want the song to end... and they have persevered through it yet a second time.
This is where the vocal "words/jargon" come into play. If you've never been "vocalized" before... and you hear the phrase "let's vocalize now"... the inexperienced praise team patsy... er... auditioner... will go visually to a surgical procedure. The built in "fight or flight" endorphins will be released into the bloodstream, making one almost light-headed with the panic that begins coursing through the body. When your friendly redheaded praise team director/panel member says to you "do that last one again and squeeze your butt to hit the note"... the pawn... er... auditioner will realize the third level of hell was decorated nicer than the fifth level where she is currently residing.
Also, make sure to warn auditioners who are standing in the hallways and are waiting for their moment of impending doom to never speak to each other. This will prevent someone from engaging in a conversation that may go something like...
CB: "So... what exactly happens in this audition? I've never done this before"
Kelly Mills: "Oh girl... you'll do great... you're soooooo on the praise team! As for me... I'm getting booted off the island tonight."
"Yeah, that's great. Answer the question please."
"It’s really not that bad. They'll have you sing your song and then sing another song with them to hear how well you blend."
There is a dramatic pause while this last statement is processed through a nervous auditioner’s brain. Her next statements roll off her tongue quickly with increased intensity.
"They aren't going to make me sing like, another part are they? I don't have to try to figure out what an alto sings, am I? I really don't have an ear for that."
Her friend responds in a most calm, lilting, and reassuring way.
"NOOOOOO.... They don't make you do that. You'll just sing the soprano part. Girl... I can't sing alto, because I don't read music, and I just go in there and sing the soprano part."
"Whew... that's good. I'm not sure what I'd do if they made me sing another part."
This conversation will run back through the mind of the sucker, er... auditioner when he/she/it reaches the tenth level of hell that is singing the alto part of "Blessed Assurance" with panelist extraordinaire Amy Ellis. Because Amy will step out of the picture and stop singing about two phrases into the song and this leaves you struggling with the unknown while Cindy Roberts and Jon Rushing sweetly sing along. You do notice, however, that this level of hell is certainly benefited by Alexis Cruz who can make any hellish situation not so intense, just by the movement of his fingers over the ebony and ivories.
The stunned look on the judging panel's faces make you wonder if you've just done something really well... or if they simply need to throw up! I'm told the latter was not an issue... and that was right before I was told that I'm a strong alto. I believe I entered into the Twilight Zone for a moment and am currently trying to return to this dimension
I was applauded for keeping up with the "licks" that Jon and Cindy were doing (obviously another vocal term). However, I insist that I licked nothing and nobody before, during or after the audition... and I'm only glad that I have lived to tell about it.