Audition Tips for the US Army Soldier Show

I literally see hundreds of videos every year of Soldiers who would absolutely love to be in the US Army Soldier Show. I am always amazed at how many Soldiers have some tremendous talent that they’ve been using to lift morale in whatever unit they happen to be assigned to. Soldiers are such a romantic lot. I guess it takes an idealistic mindset that would send a soul running through hell and high water for nothing more than an idea – a way of life.

That being said, sometimes our Soldiers are still a bit rough around the edges. Often the videos we receive just don’t do their talent justice. So in case you were wondering if your video measures up… here are some do’s and don’ts to help you produce a nice simple video that compliments instead of distracts from your talent.

Common Video Submission Mistakes and Tips

  1. Denying your true talent – SPC Grainger in this video, thinks he is a serious singer but doesn’t respect his own great dancing ability. On the other hand, if you sell yourself as a dancer but are too timid to sing even though you can, you are denying your gift. Ask your peers and mentors their opinions. Maybe your perception is skewed because you can only see your flipped image in a mirror from one single direction.
  2. Poor Lighting – Make sure you are well lit but not washed out. The most common mistake is too much back-lighting. I literally have videos of silhouettes. The only features I can see are the whites of their eyes and their teeth. Who is that? I don’t know.
  3. Rejecting your audience – Don’t state who you are with confidence and then turn away and timidly sing to the corner of the room for your entire song. Likewise, don’t close your eyes and block me out. If you need to communicate something to me, you better acknowledge my presence, stand strong and sing TO me. I may be on the other side of that camera, but you need to be singing TO me, not just in my presence.
  4. Poor wardrobe choices – Wear something that compliments you. Don’t do your video in your PTs or with a silly cap on. In addition, we are fit, healthy Soldiers who look sexy naturally. If you distract the eye with your skimpy, blatant sexuality, it WILL detract from your performance.
  5. Not enough variety – If you do three songs that are similar in rhythm and style and mood you demonstrate your inability to adapt to new situations. That is definitely not an Army mentality.
  6. No musical track – Acapella songs are great, but if your submission includes no songs with accompaniment track, how do we know you can match pitch and sing in tempo?
  7. No solo footage – It’s wonderful to see someone who HAS and CAN work well in a group, but how will we know which performer is you? What if someone else completely outshines you? What if I call you to find out who that other person is on your video?
  8. Audio distortion – We know you are professional Soldiers and not professional entertainers, but have a little pride in your talent. Often we have adequate auditions done on high-end phones, but they better be in a proper setting. (see the notes above on poor lighting) If you are in a small room, too close to the mic and  the sound is distorting, then you will annoy the listeners instead of entertaining them. We’ll skip to the next video.
  9. Obscure song choice – Hearing a familiar song is like seeing an old friend. An audition is your one opportunity to grab your audiences attention. You don’t have time to introduce them to a new song. Grab them with something they will recognize quickly so you can jump straight into the good part of the song immediately without the set-up.
  10. Have fun! – visualize being in a low-stress environment where you wouldn’t care so much if you make small technical mistakes. I see auditions where people are so nervous that I feel nervous as well. Is that how you want to make your audience feel?
  11. Be yourself – Don’t try to be someone that you are not. It’s one thing to alter your state of mind and walk a mile in another man’s shoes, but if you’re trying to “act”, look, sound or be some other entertainer, you better be unbelievably believable or no one will trust you.
  12. Rehearse at performance level – There is a time to break things down “Barney style” for technical skill. but once you know a song, practice at performance level. Imagine yourself in front of 10,000 people. When you get the chance to actually perform in that setting you want to definitely be prepared for that situation. So do the Soldier thing – train like we fight.
  13. Leave them wanting more – Often we have video in excess of 10 minutes for a single talent. When was the last time you sat and watched an info-mercial? When was the last time you had a marathon viewing of dozens of info-mercials, one right after the other? Have pity on our selection board; edit your videos. Show only what you want them to see. Keep it short. Keep it simple. Over and out.
  14. Be a story-teller – You are a leader. You are in front of people to convey some message, moral or story. Communicate with them. Be “IN” the situation that you are conveying so they can simply empathize with you. Don’t “try” to “feel” it. For instance, the National Anthem. Remember how you felt when you peered between the cell bars that early morning and saw, by the light of the bombs bursting in air, your beautiful, tattered flag still waving? If you cannot remember that moment, sing something else.

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