When the lights came up, I was petrified. There they were, in the middle of the audience seats, this panel of judges, scowling, arms crossed. The man on the end looked like an owl, a bald head with huge glasses and eyebrows long enough to comb over.

“Can I start again?” I asked, hearing my voice shake. I knew this was against protocol, audacious, and the answer might not be favorable. To begin with, I hadn’t properly prepared. Sure, I knew the song in my sleep, backwards and forwards. I could sing it in the key of D or F sharp. But that was home in Nashville, the practice rooms of the High School of Performing Arts.

Here it was all different. The Eastman School has a legacy, a prestige I felt oozing from the rafters.

Pretend you’re with Mr. Marsh in your weekly lesson.

Easier said than done, as I watched the judges conferring about my fate.

“Imagine them naked,” Mr. Marsh had said. “Being scared is normal, you focus on the back wall. Helps projection, too.”

These shards of advice darted through my mind. A bead of sweat drip down my spine.

The lady in the middle of the panel stood. She cleared her throat. “Miss…Majong?”

“That’s Majune,” I said, hoping I sounded happy, ready to serve.

Her bun was piled so tightly that her eyes lifted at the corners.

Please say yes, I prayed.

“Please compose yourself,” she said, “and begin again.”

I nodded, instead of the way I’d have responded in Mr.s Marsh’s class. My hands felt moist. I looked over at the pianist, a geeky young kid wearing a grey t-shirt that said ANGST. He smiled, feebly, but affirmative nonetheless.

Close your eyes, imagine yourself already here.

I felt a surge of energy, contained it. Knew I could make this happen, sing my heart out. I signaled the pianist to start the recitative.


About Robert Vaughan

Originally from NY, Robert leads week long National writing retreats at sites like Mabel Dodge Luhan House, Synergia Ranch, and EarthRise IONS. His poems and fiction are published in over 500 print and online magazines, such as Necessary Fiction, BlazeVOX, Los Angeles Weekly, Literary Orphans and Smokelong Quarterly. He is Editor-in-Chief at (b)OINK magazine and leads round- tables for Redoak Writing in Milwaukee. He is six times a Pushcart Prize Nominee and his fiction and poetry have won awards, including a Micro-Fiction runner-up (2012) and twice a finalist in the Gertrude Stein Fiction Award (2013-14). His books are: Microtones (Cervena Barva Press); Diptychs + Triptychs + Lipsticks + Dipshits (Deadly Chaps); Addicts & Basements (Civil Coping Mechanisms); RIFT, co-authored with Kathy Fish (Unknown Press), and FUNHOUSE (Unknown Press).
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11 Responses to Audition

  1. Suzi says:

    OMG!!! I remember this exact moment from soooo many auditions! Oddly, I also sang in the Eastman School of Music’s Children’s Choir in 1970, so this really resonates with me. I can feel the sweat on my palms as I type this. BRAVO, Rob, for so perfectly capturing this moment of disquietude and apprehension. -S

  2. Andrea says:

    Excellent story. Reminded me of auditioning for SING in every grade of H.S. Really good.

  3. Kerry says:

    I like this one! This one paints a picture and evokes feelings/memories I can relate with. Places you on the stage.

  4. david says:

    OMG I was there too.. Eastman sounded like a THREAT to us kids growing up in the shadow of Juilliard and the Manhattan school.. Sheesh.. I can see it.. this has a depth that could only be conveyed in the written format.. or perhaps monologue? Oh wait.. let me start again… no.. OH MY.. Feel the spiraling.. down the rabbit hole.. and then EMERGE.. having finished whatever it is you just did.. and WAIT.. did I pass? Thanks for the emotional Roller Coaster…

    as Mick Jagger once said: “start me up”

  5. david says:

    when I re-read and re-read.. I get so nervous all over again.. gee whiz.. let’s hear more comments.. can we send this to Eastman, Juilliard, and all Arts High Schools etc to hear more reactions.. It would be great to hear the perspectives…. see this is GOOD..

  6. Don says:

    Fantastic story for anyone who has auditioned for some band, or chorus or just anything actually. I felt just like this person. Great story!

  7. Shari says:

    Loved this one, felt like I could relate so much.

  8. Beverly says:

    I have auditioned for so many programs over the years. I was right in this story, great anticipation. I hope she gets into Eastman!

  9. Angela says:

    That’s me on Tuesday nights at open mic…without the panel! 🙂 Emotions close to my heart…how’d she do???

  10. G says:

    could this be, … IDOL…………………..

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