Choir, Elementary Music

How to do Auditions for an Elementary Musical

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Are you doing an elementary musical? Need to pick your characters? You need to hold auditions.

I know, I know. Nobody wants to audition elementary school kids. They think they are too young, too sensitive, whatever.

But you should.

My choir did a musical this year. It was super simple, all of thirty minutes. But it was fun.

I held auditions—terrified of what would happen—and was so glad that I did.

Why should you hold auditions?

Well there are the easy answers—you don’t want to appear to favor any of your students. Also, you need to know who is interested.

But the other thing is that you may not have an idea of the talent that is in your kids.

One of my main characters was a girl that I did not know had that much talent. She was the very best out of all of the students. And I had no idea.

I felt terrible about it, but I had no idea. She was quieter, so I didn’t hear her much.

But she was so good.

Moral of this story—you should really hold auditions.

Now—how do you hold auditions?

If you are curious, this is the musical we did. It was super fun, 30 minutes, easy to learn, and has lots of parts. I highly recommend it. Click on the picture to learn more.

You can also read more about things to do when directing an elementary musical here.

How to do Auditions for an Elementary Musical. If you are having a musical, you NEED to hold auditions. Find out why and how here! Becca's Music Room.

Talk to them about what to expect in an audition

This is super important. If you are doing an elementary musical, they have probably never had to do auditions. For anything.

Tell them what will happen in the audition. Tell them what you want them to sing. Tell them the things you are looking for (diction, dynamics, etc.). Ask them what they think the lead roles will be. The most honest you are, the better they will do.

Also, I had one kid ask me, “Do you want me to sing it like how we sing in here or like how I sing?”

I assume she meant that she didn’t want to sound as classical. I told her just to sing it like she would do onstage, but that I taught them to sing that way for a reason: it really is easier on your voice, and it is the style that we use in choirs.

Also read: 3-5 Music Lesson: Boomwhackers and Science

Pick a song they know

There are a few ways to do this. If it is the beginning of the year, you could have them pick a song. I know other teachers who hold auditions for choir and tell students to sing a song they learned in class or at church or on the radio.

If you have had your students longer, you can pick a song. I highly suggest this. It is easier to evaluate students when they all sing the same thing, so you have a few things to really look for.

I chose a song that we had just finished singing in concert, so I knew that they knew it well. They knew what I was looking for, because it was all of the things that I had discussed during rehearsals. This way students are less worried about whether or not they know the song, and can focus on doing their bests.

Have them Sing in Front of Other People

I know this is super intimidating– but it helps you see what the students will do in front of an audience.

I did auditions during a choir time. The students sang in front of their peers. This helped me see who would be ok singing in front of the whole school.

I know this sounds bad. We had a loooong talk about audience behavior before. I used a point system for the auditions, and I subtracted points for any bad audience behavior. Anyone who laughed or talked went down a point. This worked very well– I think I only had to subtract one point form one kid. Most of them were so nervous for themselves they were not thinking about the others.

Also read: Music Centers Classroom Management for Bad Classes

Consider the whole child

Your kids have lots of talents that you can use. Even if they don’t get the part they want, you can use them somewhere else.

I had three main characters, and four really great auditions. For the fourth one, I felt terrible. Because she was really good. She did get a smaller part, and then I added more responsibilities to her. She was in charge of the CD player, so through rehearsals, she started and stopped the CD. It wasn’t a huge thing, but it really helped her feel more involved and less disappointed.

I had other students in charge of taking care of props or painting costumes. All of these seem minor, but they help the students feel involved.

The most important thing is that the students feel involved.

After our musical, I had a lot of other teachers say, “How did you get them to care so much?”

I wasn’t sure how to answer that, but I guess it is because I had them get involved. I only had one student who didn’t show up to the show– long story– and for my school, that is a BIG deal. As a contrast, only about half showed up to the previous concert. And unfortunately, that is normal for our kids.

How to do Auditions for an Elementary Musical. If you are having a musical, you NEED to hold auditions. Find out why and how here! Becca's Music Room.

Let them know every part is important

Tell them that not everyone will be able to get the parts they want. Tell them that it really stinks when you audition and don’t get the part. Tell them that every part is important– because it is!

They may not believe you, but still. If someone is absent from a rehearsal, use it as a chance to show them that everyone is important. Point out– not in a rude way– how difficult it is without the other person there.

Also read: Calming Down Activities for Music Class

Have Understudies

I know you don’t want to, but do. I came within two minutes of needed to use the understudy for my main character, and in the terrifying moments, I was so glad I had a backup.

Explain to them what an understudy is, and give them another part (a smaller part) as well. Include them on all rehearsals with the main characters so that they will learn what to do.


I like our musical last year so much that I ordered another by the same person for this year. Hope we like it as much! You can check it out by clicking on the photo:

You can also read more about things to do when directing an elementary musical here.

Have you held auditions for an elementary musical? How did you do it? Let us know in the comments!

Happy teaching!

How to do Auditions for an Elementary Musical. If you are having a musical, you NEED to hold auditions. Find out why and how here! Becca's Music Room.

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2 thoughts on “How to do Auditions for an Elementary Musical”

  1. So glad I found this! I am a first year teacher, and have a 2nd grade musical with 125 students. I wasn’t sure if holding auditions was the right choice, but I think it would be fair, and provide all students an opportunity to share their talent!

    1. It is! I know, it feels mean because they are so little. But they will surprise you with how good they are. Also, it proves that they can sing in front of other people before getting on stage. Good luck!

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