Episode 3 – My Worst Audition – Ever! And How it can Benefit You (-:
First, I’m going to tell you about it and then I’m going to reverse engineer it to show you how I set myself up for it.
I’ll go into the consequences of that “choice” and what may be done to shift into another place with it so that awareness can create new choices in the future.
It’s a really good episode so please enjoy!
The Inner Singer Podcast Episode 3 – Transcripts My Worst Audition – Ever! And How it can Benefit You (-:
Hi, this is Mike Goodrich for the Inner Singer Podcast. Thank you so much for tuning in. I’m really, really enjoying this. I hope you are too. I want to ask you a quick question here before we jump into this.
Actually, before I ask you a question, I’ll tell what the episode is about. It’s going to be about my worst audition ever. But before I tell you about my worst audition ever, I’m sure some of you out there are auditioning, performing. Maybe some of you are just wanting to prepare for something to sing at a wedding or just singing for fun, maybe karaoke. Or maybe you have no desire to perform and you just want to sing for fun.
If you can identify with the idea of the worst audition ever, I want you to just take a moment and think of what could possibly be the worst performance or audition experience you’ve ever had. And if you don’t have a performance experience or audition experience, what do you imagine?
What do you worry about as far as singing? What makes you tune into the inner singer? What makes you interested in learning about the inner singer? What is your inspiration for finding out more about your inner singer? What’s the fear that you have when it comes to singing and performing?
Just think about that for a second. And if you have that in mind now, I am going to tell you mine or one of them anyway. And you can feel free to send in your comments, questions. They’re always welcome. By the way, I’ve gotten some terrific feedback for the first few episodes, first couple of episodes, much appreciated feedback and much appreciated thoughts. It’s really great to hear from all of you about ideas for what you like to hear in the future, any suggestions you might have. I’m always open to that.
Let’s move ahead to my worst audition ever. But before I forget to tell you, this is just so I can tell you about a really, really bad audition. There’s a reason for this, not just to embarrass myself or share stories with you that make no sense.
But I’m going to go into what may have helped me set up the audition to be like that, what the repercussions of the audition were, what went on after that, how it might have gone differently and what I have done since then and am doing to shift things a bit. With that in mind, here we go.
It was 1988. Phantom of the Opera was auditioning in Los Angeles and I was living, of all places, in Fresno, California – actually Clovis, California, which isn’t even Fresno. I actually really enjoyed that. It’s way out in the middle of Central California, in the middle of nowhere.
And I was actually singing with the Fresno Lyric Opera. When I say, “Singing with the Fresno Lyric Opera,” I landed one small role with them when actually my actual job was I was the fleet lease manager at the Fresno Auto Auction. That afforded me my lessons and the time to sing with the Fresno Lyric Opera. I had actually gone into Fresno to study with a gal who called me before the first lesson. My buddy and I went actually. He had his wife and little child and I rented a house. Off we went to Fresno, California to study with this gal who called us right before we were leaving for our first lesson to let us know that she raised her price almost twice as much. She priced herself right out of our ability to pay for anything. So there we were in Fresno. Anyway, that’s just a little background on how I got there and what I was doing there.
All of a sudden, this audition in Los Angeles comes up. Phantom of the Opera is a big hit on Broadway. It was 1988 and they were having some major auditions. My buddy who was quite a good singer decided he would come down and audition for Phantom of the Opera and I decided I would just drive along with them. It’s about a four-hour drive. We have a chance to hang out a little bit, talk. I go with him to the audition. We’d have dinner and we go back. It should be a cool.
So anyway, off we went a long drive down and he was auditioning for the role of Piangi, which is a high tenor role in the Phantom of the Opera, testing high C or a couple of high Cs. He was perfect for it because he had the highest Cs and he had the voice and he could do it and he was funny. So all things were going his way as far as that goes.
Anyway, we got to the audition. Hanging out in the audition, waiting for everybody, hearing all the people, I started to get the feeling like, “Why am I not auditioning? I should be auditioning.” Talking to a few people and then I decided, “This is ridiculous. I don’t have any music, but lots of people are around here, lots of music. Let me see if I can find somebody with something that I know.”
So there’s a guy that I was chatting with, and he was going to go in and sing a song that I loved but at the time I wasn’t capable of singing. But he had a Les Mis book kicking around. I said, “Can I borrow that? I can sing Empty Chairs at Empty Tables. That’s easy.” And that was easy for me at the time. He said, “Yeah, sure.” So I said, “I think I’m going to audition.” So I went up to the person who was having the auditions. I said, “Sir, can I crash this and get in?” “Oh yeah, it’s almost the end of the day. So yeah, you can get in.” So he gave me a time.
I took the Les Mis book down into the car. And I always carried a pitch pipe around. So I gave myself a note. I sang Empty Chairs at Empty Tables, a cappella, sitting in the car. It went well. I thought, “Okay, this is going to be easy. This would be fun. It would be great.” So back up, I went.
My buddy went in. He sang and he did great. They had him sing two or three different numbers, talked to him a lot and gave him a call back. So out he came, he was happy. It went well. A few more people went in and came out. Then my name was called.
And I went with my one book. Remind you, I had no picture, no resume. I’m completely unprepared. It’s a total last minute decision to do this.
So these guys said, “Hey. What’s your name?” and I said, “Mike Goodrich.” “What are you singing?” “Empty Chairs at Empty Tables.”
“We don’t want to hear that.” This is what they say to me, “We don’t want to hear that. We hear that all the time. We cast Les Mis. What else have you got?”
At that point, boom, right into survival.
So what did I do? Well, the most logical thing, I just started lying. I just started lying, trying to lie my way out of it.
“Well, I forgot my music.” First lie. “Where are you from?” “I came from the Bay Area.” Second lie. “You came all the way from the Bay Area for a major audition and you forgot your music?” they say. “Yeah.” By now, I’m just squirming. And I’m totally going into fight-or-flight. What I really wanted to do is just run out of the room. And then they said, “Well, what do you know?” I said, “I did Sunday in the Park with George.” If you know musical theater and you know Sunday in the Park with George, it’s Stephen Sondheim, nobody’s going to know that on the fly. That’s crazy music.
They looked at me and they said, “We can’t play something Sunday in the Park with George. What else do you know?” “Well, I did Evita.” “What else? What else?”
Of course now, I can’t think of anything. I was like a student at school who’s totally going into his reptilian brain and can’t think of the answers to the test. So I was just frozen.
The company starts tossing out some song ideas and I don’t how many they tossed out. But the first one that I actually recognized that I would be able to sing on the fly was If Ever I would Leave You from Camelot, which should not have been a tough song for me at the time. It covers barely over an octave. So anyway, I grabbed on to that. “Yeah, I know that. I know that.” Anyway, he starts playing it and I start. It’s low. So I’m singing and I’m singing real heavy.
Then I get to the end, which only goes to only a D or an E. It’s not high at all. And I’m killing myself. I mean it’s just awful. It is abysmal. I had so much weight in my voice.
And I stopped. Oh, I just wanted to run because I was no longer present. I don’t think I was ever present there, but I was definitely not present now. I had already left the building.
They said, “Can you do that ending again?” And of course, in my mind, what went through my mind is “Oh man, that was so awful, they want to hear it again. They couldn’t believe how bad it was. They’re making me do this again.”
So I sang the ending. It was just as awful, just as pulled, just as heavy.
From then on, it’s like a total blank. I think I’ve wiped that much out of my mind about the audition. But I remember them saying goodbye or something. I don’t know. “Don’t call us, we’ll call you.” I’m not sure what they said.
But anyway, off I went and through the door. As if this audition couldn’t get any worse, when I opened the door, I ran almost physically smack dab into the guy who had understudied me in Sunday in the Park with George who had been standing I’m sure outside hearing the entire fiasco.
He had a big smile on his face. The first thing that went in my mind with the big smile was, “Oh, my God! He’s been listening to me. They’re laughing. Everybody knows that I’m a complete…” This was all going on in my mind.
So anyway, I tucked my tail between my legs. I say hi to him and get out as I fast I can. And of course, I go over to my buddy who has just had a great audition. He sang three or four songs. He had the plays in the stitches. He had the rapport with the auditors.
And now I got to ride back. First of all, I have got to go to dinner with this guy. Now I’ve got to ride back a four-hour car ride to Fresno after the most humiliating experience of my life. And he did great. Off we went.
Why did I tell you that? Twenty-some years later, it’s funny to me. But with the work that I’m doing and have done for years and years since that, probably a lot of it on the heels of that and as a result of things like that.
Let’s look at this for a second. Let’s look at how I may have set myself up for that audition – completely unconsciously. Let’s reverse engineer this. Let’s go back to my friend first saying, “I’m going to audition for Phantom of the Opera.”
With him first saying, “I’m going to audition for Phantom of the Opera,” and I’m a musical theater guy and I love musical theater and I’ve done musical theater and I plan on moving to Los Angeles and I like Phantom in the Opera, what logical reason would I possibly have had to not say, “Oh, that sounds great. I’m going to audition too” and then prepare, prepare a couple of songs, have my audition book professionally done and go and audition? What would have kept me from doing that?
Let’s go a little further back in time. If you haven’t heard the previous couple of podcasts, I talked about where I started beginning to get very afraid and nervous that I was going to forget the words. So all the fun had gone out of performing towards about the middle of the run of Evita and almost all of Sunday in the Park with George because I was so afraid I was going to forget the words and I really wasn’t enjoying the performing.
Let’s back up to that. Let’s back up to how that might have emotionally wired a circuitry in my brain that began to operate below the level of my conscious awareness as, believe it or not, perhaps a protection because now, my brain thinks that I am considering performing as life-threatening and dangerous. I was pretty much that emotional about the fear of forgetting the words and not wanting to perform and not wanting this to happen.
So I wired that in. Now let’s begin to fast-forward a little bit as that belief is taking route. Let’s just speculate. Let’s just say that that belief is now taking route that, “Okay, I’m afraid I’m going to forget the words, so performing isn’t safe.”
The brain starts taking that because it’s an emotionally charged belief. The brain starts taking that and those neurons are firing together and creating a circuitry that’s stronger and connections that are stronger and stronger and stronger and interpreting that as “Wow, singing is dangerous for Mike. Let’s help him not have to perform.”
So then we fast-forward to my buddy saying, “Hey, I’m going to audition for Phantom of the Opera” and I don’t say “I want to audition.” I have absolutely no conscious awareness of memory of why I made that decision. And it seemed like a choice at the time. It seemed like I was choosing not to audition. Let’s look at that. Did I really have a free choice? Or was I operating from a program that had been installed two years earlier when I became really afraid of performing and now my brain was trying to protect me and keep me safe?
So the idea of auditioning and performing – now I might have had a lot of intellectual reasons, but the idea of that on an unconscious level was so nerve-racking to me and so scary to me that it didn’t even occur to me to audition. Secretly below the level of my awareness, I really didn’t want to do it even though intellectually and even though consciously, I did.
Consciously, I love the show. This would be great. This would be fun. It’s really what I want to do. But operating below the level of my conscious awareness was this belief that singing is not safe. “You don’t enjoy performing. That is not a safe place to be. You could forget the words. You could completely mess up the show. That would be awful.” And this has been wired in.
So by the time I had an opportunity to say yes to something that I totally could have prepared for – it doesn’t mean I would have gotten in the show, but I certainly was good enough to prepare for it and certainly could have auditioned for it and have done a nice audition and have a much different experience. But I really wasn’t in a place of free choice. My choice was functional. I mean my choice was theoretical, but really not functional because I was making a choice based on a wiring that I did not know was there. And this to me is hugely important and something that we all can look at.
Let’s speculate now and say, “How could this have gone differently?”
Let’s say I had understood what we understand now back when I experienced those fears performing Sunday in the Park with George and Evita. Let’s say I had known how to shift out a little bit so that I was in a position to be aware of my tendency to say no.
What if I had been aware? What if there was just some awareness and some presence there? What if I had been able to be mindful in that moment of Kevin saying “Hey, let’s go audition for Phantom of the Opera?” What if I was present and mindful and awareness and can see? “Oh, I remember that last experience and there’s a part of me that’s really afraid to do this. But this is what I love and it’s okay that that part is afraid. That part is like a little child and the bigger part of me is big enough to hold that little scared part of me and still say yes to this audition. Yeah, that sounds like fun.”
It sounds scary, but let’s move forward towards that and allow this fear to shift maybe by just being aware of this and not condemning myself, not making myself wrong, but also not saying, “No, I’m not going to perform. I’m not going to perform.”
So it could have gone much, much differently. But instead, that fear operated at a level below my awareness. After that audition, I didn’t perform for – let’s see. It was 1988. I’m thinking on the fly now because I don’t want too much dead air space here as I think. So I’ll just speculate and say about 11 years. The next time I performed, it was with my wife. We did Cabaret. So I felt like I had a safety net. And I had done some work by then. I’ve been gaining a little bit of awareness of what was going on. Not like now, but a little bit of awareness.
It’s amazing how decisions can be made based on wiring and belief systems that we don’t even know are there, functioning and influencing us.
And again as a result of that belief and that audition, I actually continued to study voice. And very shortly after that, I started teaching and even convinced myself – I guess I said this on the previous podcast. I even convinced myself that I enjoyed being in the background more than performing. After doing some of this work years and years later, I would realize, wow, was I lying to myself because I love performing.
But that’s many, many years of my life that I was operating almost unconsciously with a belief that I didn’t like performing because I had been so – I use the word traumatized a little bit whimsically because as trauma goes, that’s pretty mild. But still, to my belief system and my brain’s belief system and wiring, that was a trauma. So those decisions started being made as a protection to keep me safe.
I have to look at that part of me and say wow, I can’t really be mad at that part of me. That part of me is a loving part that was trying to keep me safe because it believed that my performing was dangerous and life-threatening and that’s all that was going on.
It’s not something that I need to get mad at. It’s not something that I need to regret or anything. It’s just something that I’d say, “That’s a loving part of me that was trying to keep me safe.” It was all about something that was not correct. But anyway, that’s what went on.
So now, is there a way that you can see anything in your singing life, whether it’s singing, performing or auditioning, the way you approach your voice, the way you approach your lessons, the way you look at your voice, the way you react if somebody says something is really good? Is there anything that you can begin to become aware of? Is there any reaction that you have that you can begin to question like “Where is that reaction coming from?” so that you can really begin to become aware, become present, become conscious and become mindful like we talked about in the last episode?
Once we’re aware and we have a little bit of separation, that’s what then moves us again into the place where we actually do have a choice. But as you can see with that audition and the decision not to do it, I can say, “Yeah, that was my decision, but that was not a free decision.”
That was not based on me being present, conscious and aware. That was based on me being manipulated by a wiring that I didn’t know I had, by a program that I didn’t know existed and that went on for many, many years and influenced how I would speak about performing. “Oh, I prefer to teach. Oh, I like supporting those. I like being in the background. I like being the unsung hero.”
And every time somebody would put a microphone in my hand, whether it was at my wedding or wherever, to give a talk about voice, you can hardly get me off the stage. I just love being up there. I love talking, I love teaching.
But no, what I love was performing. I mean I love teaching obviously. But I love performing. I love being on the stage. I love being in front of people. That had gotten completely shut down.
Some of these podcasts, as you can see, will tie in together. Many of them might as I say certain things over and over again. It’s very important as I’ve already said today and probably in the past weeks, the mindfulness, the awareness, the being conscious so that we can move into a place where we have a conscious choice.
The next time you think something about your voice that’s derogatory or negative or the next time somebody gives you a compliment about your voice and you push it away or the next time anything like that happens, see if you can begin to train yourself to stop and sit with it just for a second. Don’t find fault with yourself.
Just sit with it and say, “Wow. Did I have any control over that [inaudible 00:24:08]? Do I have any say when somebody says, ‘That was really good?’ and you say, ‘Oh yeah, but I couldn’t do it in the performance?’”
“That was a great note.” “Yeah, but I can’t sing it in the song.” “That was a great…” “Yeah, but I couldn’t.” When you find yourself saying, “Yeah, but…” with that kind of energy, stop and catch yourself. Those may not apply to you.
I have a feeling if you’re tuning into this podcast and you are attracted to something called the inner singer, then you have probably already come to the point in your life where it’s not about the high notes. Sure, high notes are great, high notes would be fun to have. It would be fun to improve you high notes. But it’s not about the high notes, not about the vibrato, not about the breathing, not about the range, not about the style. It’s not about the voice. Even though the show is called The Voice, it’s not about the voice. Not even The Voice is about the voice. I’m sure you’ve come to that point.
So take these episodes and take the takeaways like I’m explaining to you now. And really see if you can begin to put them into practice, in your singing, in your practicing, in your performing, in your auditioning, whatever you’re doing, whatever capacity you are in right now with your singing.
And please let me know how this is doing with you. Let me know if you have any comments, any questions because my aim is to really, really help your inner singer grow and thrive.
I can see this episode is going a little longer than I planned. But I hope it had some really enjoyable information for you, actionable information that you can use now to help you and to assist you.
Anyway, I’m going to say goodbye for now. I look forward to seeing or hearing. Not really seeing you, but I look forward to talking to you in the next episode of the Inner Singer Podcast.
Thanks a bunch. I’ll talk to you soon. Bye-bye.