So you’ve decided to have auditions for your worship team. But now what? Sounds like a whole lot of work!

Don’t worry; I’ve laid out the entire process for you from start to finish (this is a long post!) including some helpful PDF downloads.

Here we go.

Before the Audition Pre-Work:

1. Select a date.

Depending on the demand you have at your church, you might hold auditions weekly, monthly, quarterly, or on an as-needed basis.

2. Set a time.

Auditions usually take one or two hours, depending on how many people you have signed up. It usually takes five to ten minutes to audition one person, so if you have 10 people sign up, you’re looking at about an hour with transition times.

3. Set up a way for people to sign-up.

One of my favorite options for people to sign up with is Google Forms. It’s a free service that Google offers where you can make a signup form and include all the questions you want people to answer. If a good old piece of paper is easier for you, then go that route. Either way, you need to get people’s names, contact info (email and phone), and what they’ll be auditioning for. Don’t limit it to certain people unless there are staff requirements to being on the worship team at your church. I suggest not specifying what kind of instruments you’re looking for. I’ve seen some leaders specify, “Auditions for electric guitar and singers,” but I suggest just holding open auditions because you never know who might sign up and walk through that door. Download my example signup sheet.

4. Email them the info.

Email everyone who signed up to let them know when the audition will be and what they can expect. Anyone who’s ever auditioned for anything knows that the main question going through the mind of the one trying out is, “What are they going to have me do?!” People want to be as prepared as possible, which is awesome. Therefore, you want to make sure that your email informs them of what to expect. See my example e-mail to send to someone auditioning below or download a copy here.

5. Assemble an audition panel.

An audition panel is one of the elements that separates formal auditions from on-the-fly tryouts where you may be the only one listening. I suggest having a total of three to five people on the audition panel (preferably an uneven number). Your audition panel should be worship leaders, singers, or musicians who are either on your team or others you know and trust. You don’t want the fate of all the people that audition to lie in your hands alone. There is safety in numbers. It also helps to have others to assist you with follow-up, especially if someone fails the audition.

At the Audition Pre-Work:

1. Have a form for them to fill out.

Once people arrive at the audition, have them check in and then fill out a basic audition form. This form will give you a bit more information about the person, their musical history, desires with music, etc. Depending on your tech setup and availability, you could have people sign up on paper or an iPad or computer via Google Forms. See my audition information sheet below or download a copy here.

2. Have a plan.

As an audition panel, you need to know what your standards are and what you are looking for. Are you judging the candidate solely based on pitch? Tone? Is one mistake enough to fail someone? Will nerves be taken into consideration when grading them? You don’t want to be too picky, but you don’t want to be too lenient either.

3. Have a grading sheet.

Each member of the panel should have a grading sheet for each person auditioning. See my audition grading sheet below or download a copy here.

At the Audition How-to:

Welcome everyone:
  • You as the worship leader begin the time by welcoming everyone and sharing how the audition process will go and also what the follow-up process will look like.
  • You should share about what joining a team at your church looks like. Maybe this is the only step in the process and if they pass this audition, they’re in. But I recommend “Vision and Values” nights as the next step for those who pass your auditions. These nights are a great next step for prospective team members to begin the process of joining your team. (I’ll be sharing more about this soon.)
  • You can either keep everyone in the same room to watch each other’s audition or bring each person in one at a time (my preference).
When auditioning singers:
  • Ask them to come warmed up ready to sing.
  • Ask them to sing a verse and a chorus of a well-known worship song that you will pick for them.
  • Ask them what key works best for their voice. If they don’t know (many won’t), take a minute and figure out their vocal range and decide on the best key. Make sure they feel comfortable and confident.
  • Be on stage playing the song during the audition so you can see how they flow.
  • Ask them to sing a spontaneous Bible verse over a chord progression of your choosing right there on the spot. This will really test their ear and flow as a singer.
  • Encourage them with strengths that you see after each portion of their audition.
  • Kindly point out any weaknesses you might see and have them run the song again to see if it improves.
  • End by thanking them for auditioning.
Why you should have them sing spontaneously:
  • What I look for in a singer is not just the tonal quality or if the voice is easy to listen to, but how they flow as a singer. Sometimes singers find too much security in the routine and predictability of a worship song, so much so that when I ask them to divert from what is on the chord sheet and just sing their heart, they become tense and lock up. I am not advocating making singers purposely uncomfortable during auditions, however I do take note of how confident and comfortable the singer is with changes in the song and their ability to flow with me as a worship leader.
  • While I play the chord progression, I ask the singer to flow over the progression with phrases of their choosing. Again, this can be a Bible verse or just something that fits with the theme of the worship song. This may seem like a big challenge for singers. Maybe you don’t have extended times of spontaneous worship at your church and this seems unnecessary. But whether you incorporate this during a morning service or not, I think it can add a fun, creative layer to the audition.
Take note of how confident the singer is with changes in the song and their ability to flow Click To Tweet
When auditioning a musician:
  • Give them a few minutes to get their gear setup, tuned, prepared.
  • Lead them through a verse and chorus of a well-known worship song, looking for them to confidently play the chords and make smooth transitions.
  • Have them transpose up or down a key on the fly (optional).
  • Have them play a song by ear with no chord sheet (listening for the chord changes).
  • Have them play lead-line melodies or a song, or a spontaneous solo time.
  • When auditioning a musician, you’re not only looking for technical ability, like scales or rhythm ability; you’re looking at their musicianship. How did it feel to have them play with you? Was it smooth sailing or did it seem like they were fighting the flow/beat?
  • Encourage them with strengths that you see during and after each portion of their audition.
  • Kindly point out any weaknesses you might see and have them run the song again to see if it improves.
  • End by thanking them for auditioning.
When auditioning a musician, you're not only looking for technical ability, but at their overall musicianship. Click To Tweet

After the audition:

  • Immediately following the audition, have an honest debrief with your panel, assessing each person’s strengths and weaknesses in an honoring way. Have each panel member add up his or her score assessment for each person and then take a few minutes to discuss and make decisions on each person.
  • Though you as the worship leader have the strongest voice, I highly recommend you go with “majority rule” on who passes and fails an audition. That’s why I recommend an odd number on your audition panel.
  • You or your audition administrator should get the results and send an email letting people know the results within 2-3 days of their audition. One of the most critical ways we can honor those who audition is by following up in a clear and timely manner.
  • The email can be simple but should include: a brief encouragement, their results, and the proper follow-up. If they passed, the follow-up would be “on-ramps to your team” and if they failed, the follow-up would be a list of people who offer lessons and encouragement to re-audition in a few months. See my example emails below or download a copy here.
  • If you are a part of a bigger church, there may not be room on the team for every individual who passes the audition. In my years of leading, I have seen many excellent singers and musicians fall through the cracks because there wasn’t space on the team or because too much time had passed before we found a spot to rotate them into. Get a system set up to keep track of people. This is why I recommend the Vision and Values practice nights where people can come be a part and feel included even before they begin playing with the team.

Continue reading below for my example e-mail to send to someone auditioning, audition information sheet, audition grading sheet, audition signup sheet, and response email examples.

I’d love to hear any questions or comments you may have! Please post them below.

Happy auditioning!

 

Sample Email to Send to Someone Auditioning (Download PDF here)

Hey John,

Thanks so much for signing up to audition with us at our 2pm audition on January 18th.

Please review this email carefully as it contains all the information you need to know in order to prepare for your audition.

Date: January 18th

Time: 2-3pm. Each audition will last about 5-7 minutes, but please be prepared to stay the entire time if needed. Audition order will be based on check-in order.

Location: Main sanctuary

Results: You will receive an email within 2-3 days of your audition with the results.

  • For singers:
    • Please come warmed up.
    • Be ready to sing a verse and chorus of a well-known worship song that we’ll choose for you.
    • If you know what key works best, please let us know. If not, we’ll find one that works for you.
    • Be ready to sing a Bible verse (we’ll choose for you) over a spontaneous chord progression we’ll play for you. We want to hear how you can flow with no established song lyrics or melody.
  • For musicians:
    • Drum kit and keyboards/piano will be provided, but please bring any other gear (guitars, amps, pedals, etc.) that you will be auditioning on.
    • Be ready to play a well-known worship song along with the worship leader/team. Chord sheet and song will be provided for you.
    • Be ready to transpose up or down a key on the fly (this will vary).
    • Be ready to possibly play a song by ear (listening for the chord changes).
    • Be ready to possibly play lead-line melodies of a song or a spontaneous solo time

If you have any questions or if something changes and you’re unable to make it, please email us.

– The Audition Team

 

Worship Team Audition Information Sheet (Download PDF here)

Name: _____________________ Auditioning for: ______________

What other musical skills do you have?  ____________________________________

What prior vocal/music training have you had?  COLLEGE     LESSONS NONE/OTHER

What is your vocal range?  SOPRANO   ALTO     TENOR    BARITONE    NOT SURE

What do you most hope to gain from auditioning?

_____________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________

What are your goals with music?

_____________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________

What do you love about music?

_____________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________

What aspect of music comes easiest to you?

_____________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________

What aspect of music is the most challenging?

_____________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________

Do you have any questions for us?

_____________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________

Worship Team Audition Grading Sheet (Download PDF here)


Applicant’s name: _______________________

Auditioning for: _________________________

Grading grid:             1     –      –     –     –    5     –     –     –      –     10

Poor        Fair       Good      Very Good      Excellent

 

Category Vocal Instrument   Instrument
Posture & Stage Presence  

  • Energy, focus, and connection to the song. Body free and relaxed.   
Technique

  • Technical aptitude, physical coordination, breath control and support.
Tone and Pitch  

  • Quality of sound, accuracy of pitches throughout range.
Rhythm and Dynamics

  • Overall sense of pulse and ability to feel rhythms.
Phrasing and Musicality

  • Phrasing and interpretation of lyrics. Rigid or mechanical. Sense of tonal color that expresses the music and words
Interpretation

  • Musicality, technique and tonal ability.
Receptiveness to feedback

  • Ability to take feedback and incorporate suggestions.
TOTAL SCORE


General notes / Feedback:


______________________________________________________________________


______________________________________________________________________

Example email to send to someone who passed (Download PDF here)

Sam,

Thank you so much for auditioning this past Monday. The audition panel enjoyed meeting you and hearing you.

We’re excited to inform you that you have passed the audition for singing!

The next step in our process is to invite you to begin attending our weekly “Vision and Values” nights. This is held every Thursday and is the on-ramp to all of our worship teams here at the church.

The purpose of these nights is to begin sharing the values of our worship team and church, to build community, and of course to play music and worship together. This will begin the hands-on training that serves as the potential on-ramp onto our teams.

If you’d like to be involved on a worship team, this is the next step in the process. We would love to have you be a part of these nights!

Please let us know if this is something you’d like to begin this next Thursday night! 

The Audition Team

Example email to send to someone who didn’t pass (Download PDF here)

Sam,

Thank you so much for auditioning this past Monday. The audition panel enjoyed meeting you and hearing you.

At this time, the audition panel has decided that more training would be needed before passing your audition. As we briefly mentioned at your audition, there were some pitch issues we’d love to see resolved.

We’d like to encourage you to contact one of the instructors below, get some training, and then re-audition in three to six months.

Local music instructors contact list:

Guitar Center – offering guitar, piano, and drum lessons. Phone: 000-000-0000

Local Music Store – offering singing lessons. Phone: 000-000-0000

If you’d like to discuss your audition further, or if you have any questions, please let us know and we can set up a time to meet.

The Audition Team

Worship Team Audition Signup Sheet (Download PDF here)

Name                                                       Auditioning for 

___________________               _____________________

E-mail                                                     Phone

___________________              ______________________

 

Name                                                       Auditioning for 

___________________               _____________________

E-mail                                                     Phone

___________________              ______________________

 

Name                                                       Auditioning for 

___________________               _____________________

E-mail                                                     Phone

___________________              ______________________

 

Name                                                       Auditioning for 

___________________               _____________________

E-mail                                                     Phone

___________________              ______________________

 

Name                                                       Auditioning for 

___________________               _____________________

E-mail                                                     Phone

___________________              ______________________

I’m Justin Rizzo. I’m a worship leader, songwriter, and recording artist. I want to help you achieve your highest potential and walk out with confidence everything you’ve been made for.

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