Choice of song for rock/pop audition?


Next year I’m going to apply for an education to become a music teacher in the rock/pop orientation. I’m free to play any song under 5 min to a backing track, but I’m really insecure on which song to choose. I don’t know who will be the judge/judges so I can’t take that into consideration.

I’ve been thinking lately about either:
-Technical Difficulties by Paul Gilbert:
-Scarified by Paul gilbert:
-Altitudes by Jason Becker:
-The Arena by Lindsey Stirling with Jason Richardsons arrangement:

My thoughts are that the 3 first mentioned songs are more technical and highlights right hand technique. The Arena might fit the rock/pop genre a bit more, might be a bit easier/catchier to listen to for the first time if they’ve never heared it before, maybe a better chance to stand out in terms of playing a song that was originally written for violin and then combining it with a rock/metal sound of a guitar. Though a song like Altitudes shows more a variety of techniques.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on which one to choose and why, or just any tip at all! I’m also open for anything else if you have any suggestions.

Edit: added links to the songs

You are definitely more experienced/qualified than me, so take my advice with a pinch of salt.

I think that your song choices are very ambitious and high risk, in the sense that there is a large margin of error while playing live. All these songs can be f* up if you tense up due to performance/audition stress.

I would find a song that can demonstrate your groove capabilities, while having a quality lead part to showcase your solo playing. Beat it by Michael Jackson comes to mind, perfect blend of pop and rock.

I’d agree with this, I doubt any of my guitar tutors at uni could play any of the songs you listed!

Personally, I’d go for something a bit more mainstream. Something that shows you have a high degree of control of over your instrument, especially when it comes to bending and intonation.

The uni types I’d have to perform to weren’t particular into shreddy stuff either, so you might be doing yourself a favour staying away from Shrapnel type playing but it depends on the judges :slight_smile:

Depends a lot on your specific technique!

Shortest possible answer is:

  1. figure out what picking motion you (currently) have and what type of vocabulary it can play easily.
  2. choose material that is easy to play with your current technique.

Personal opinion alert: I think the key for a good live performance is that you have to play things that feel easy. This way, you can devote your energy to the more musical aspects of the piece (phrasing, dynamics and whatnot).

Thanks for the reply! The reason i was thinking about these songs are because there’s quite a limited spots and high rejection rate where I’m going to apply. I really want to maximize my chances to get in and I’m worried that if i choose an easier song the chance gets smaller. Although I understand how big of a difference different guitarist can make ‘‘easy songs’’ sound I’m still a bit worried, if that makes sense? To be honest, the reason i was hesitent on The Arena was because i thought it may be too easy, but reading these replies I’m starting to wonder if I just got a skewed view of guitar watching all these amazing guitarists online?

Also, i forgot to mention that the auditions are made by sending a video tape and not live, so if i mess it up i could just do another take.

Just wanna add that when i write easy, i don’t mean ‘‘easy easy’’, but more of a ‘‘is it enough to stand out’’?

Thanks for the reply!

This is one of my concerns aswell, i don’t know if the judge or judges will be a avid jazz musician or a head banger. One of the reasons i consider Altitude actually was because of the bending at the start of the song :stuck_out_tongue: Maybe it could be worth to send an email and ask them what they’re looking for in particular?

I’m really uneducated in mainstream music and i honestly have no clue what to even consider. Do you have any tips on potential songs?

Thanks for the reply!

I’m definetly using dsx as my primary motion, but i not so long ago figured out how to play usx and mixed escape lines aswell. I kind of wanted to show case my ability to do those things with either technical difficulties, scarified or altitudes. But at the same time i highly doubt that any jury will recognize that ‘‘hey, he’s doing dsx lines, usx lines and mixed lines… that’s what we’re looking for’’.

The most easy song i considered is The Arena, and i think there’s a decent amount of phrasing in there, but it’s not like the gilmore emotion type of bends and phrasing if that’s what they’re looking for.

Exactly! Most people, including many music teachers, will not know or not care about these things. It’s more likely that they will focus on the bigger picture: did it sound good?

I posted this in another recent thread, it’s an Andy James performance which, we established, is basically 110% DSX :slight_smile:

Dunno about you, but I’d hire him:

PS: if you have the possibility, I’d also check out footage of people who got this scholarship you are applying for. See if you can figure out what are the things they are doing particularly well, etc.

Dream Theater’s ‘Another Day’ is probably more rock-esque than metal (although I might be wrong), and has a really cool solo that has a fast ascending scale run, and a descending pentatonic run. It could be good for demonstrating your picking mechanics, as you could use a variety of approaches to play the faster parts (e.g. mixed escape for the scale run, and usx for the pentatonic run).

In my opinion, the solo is also really melodic while still being ‘shreddy’ and technical.

As you say you don’t know what the judges’ tastes in music will be, and they might find fast guitar playing like a wall of noise if they’re not familiar with it. So in that sense, another day could be a safe bet as it may be more familiar to judges who are more into mainstream music, while showing off your technical skills to any judges that are looking for it :slight_smile:

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Great suggestion! I also saw that Andy James have backing tracks avaiable to purchase which is a big bonus for me. Did you think of the song (hurricane) in this performence in particular or any Andy James tune? What do you think about Victory feat Rick Graham and Never back down?

Honestly I just found a random live video :slight_smile: I think pretty much all the music he writes is optimized for DSX. The Rick Graham solo is probably an exception, because in terms of mechanics he’s a very different player (and both are equally awesome in my view).

Thanks for the suggestion! Dream Theater is probably hard to go wrong with. I did consider them briefly but i found it difficult to find a song under 5 min :stuck_out_tongue:

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Yes, to me that solo looks a bit scary considering my technique. Esp the hybrid picking part since that would be a completely new technique for me. I got about 6 months before i need to send a video so plenty time of practice. But maybe it would be wiser to rearrange it somehow to make it suit my current technique more.

If you can pull off Altitudes, then I say go for it, incredible piece of music!

I hadn’t developed an efficient motion yet so I opted for stuff that shied away from fast technical playing and focused on slower emotive playing, these are two of the pieces I played which I passed with :grin:

Satch may be quite a good choice in general as although I don’t really listen to his stuff anymore, he tends to have a slightly wider appeal then a lot of shredders and there is a good mix of emotive playing, interesting modal sounds and faster phrases - often played with legato which can be easier to pull off live.

Even if you don’t know who will be judging you, is there an existing curriculum you can research, or graduate showcases from prior years you could infer style preference from?

Unless the organization is conspicuously “pro metal”, I’d be wary of choosing an all-out shred like Technical Difficulties, especially if you only get one song. And even if it is a “pro metal” organization, the judges would probably be grateful to hear something other than Technical Difficulties for a change. :smiley:

I’d look for a song that has places where you can show off your shred, but also places where you can show off sense of time and dynamics. My first thought is “Sultans of Swing” by Dire Straits, but that may or may not be your bag, and younger judges might not be fully hip to it.

If you do want to go “full shred”, maybe picking something relatively recent from Animals as Leaders?

I’d agree with this. I’d try research the curriculum and pick something suitable. Full on shred may not be the best choice in this case. Just my two cents

There are some things that I wonder about:

  • What did prior winners do?
  • What will you wear?
  • Will you perform like a rock star or just stand there?

(Am I superficial? Yes, unapologetically so. :rofl:)

You seem to be unsure of the judges; playing Paul Gilbert stuff seems really risky.

If you want to melt their face off perhaps it should be something tasteful, like (say) one of my favorites, from Ludwig van Beethoven,

Or perhaps some Paganini,

Best of luck in whatever you choose!

No idea what the previous prior applicants do, there’s no information on that avaiable online unfortunaly.I wasn’t planning on wearing anything specific, just ‘‘normal cloths’’. I’d probably sit due to it being a video performence and they have some specific requierments for shooting the video.

I’ve actually practiced that intro a bit some months ago. I found it very difficult to keep everything perfectly muted though and i want it to be close to flawless for an audition.

Paganini would be awesome but It’s too difficult for me since I don’t have that level of crosspicking

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I don’t know why i didn’t make this clear in the original post, but we will get 2 obligatory songs to play aswell and then 1 song of our own choise.


Ah! In that case, then yeah if you can play Paul Gilbert or Jason Becker stuff under pressure, then go for it!