Songfest Hosts


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Songfest 2021

Songfest 2021 *IS* happening in a modified virtual format. For more about Songfest 2021, see here.

Songfest 2021 is being produced amidst very unusual circumstances arising from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Much of the information on this site may not be applicable to the Songfest 2021 production.

Songfest Hosts

Frequently Asked Questions - Hosts

The following are some questions that are often asked by students who are interested in auditioning to be a host.

Other Frequently Asked Questions

Participant FAQs
Group Formation FAQs
Group Leader FAQs

If you have a question that isn't answered here, please feel free to email us.

Also, be sure to check out our Host Auditions page for specific audition information!


How does one become a Songfest host?

The Songfest hosts are chosen each fall through an open audition process, which occurs in two stages. Initially, candidates are required to submit audition paperwork, prepare and present a group introduction, and perform two musical numbers. After initial auditions, a smaller group of finalists is invited to a call-back audition, in which the candidates learn new choreography and music as a group. The hosts are finally selected based upon the overall group effect of their personalities and performances at the call-back audition.

How do I audition?

View the latest host audition information and sign up for an audition appointment. Student Activities (HAWC 117) is also a great place to obtain more information and ask questions about the audition process. You are also welcome to email any questions to songfest@pepperdine.edu.

When are host auditions?

The specific details change annually, but generally auditions are held in October of each year. The Songfest website has the most current host audition information.

I didn't sign up for an audition appointment. Can I still audition?

Walk-up appointments may be available (schedule permitting). Come to the Initial Auditions on audition day and check with the staff. Walk-up candidates are still expected to be fully prepared for their audition. Candidates are strongly encouraged to book an appointment in advance.

Is there a way to rehearse my audition material with the piano accompanist in advance?

Sometimes, but not always. Whenever possible, we arrange for the audition accompanist to be available to potential host candidates for pre-audition meetings, consultations, and/or rehearsals. In years where an accompanist is avaialble, we highly recommend that those interested in auditioning take advantage of this opportunity. During your preparatory meeting(s), you can ask questions, edit your music (add/alter intros, endings, transitions, change keys, etc.). These no-pressure meetings benefit both you and the accompanist, and give you the chance to fully rehearse your audition music together in advance. These meetings are always optional, but we strongly recommend scheduling such an appointment. To find out more about the current year's audition accompanist appointment situation, check out the current host audition information, stop by Student Activities (HAWC 117), or email songfest@pepperdine.edu.

How much time is required of the hosts?

Lots! But the time demands are cyclical, and gradually build as the year proceeds. In general, hosts participate in 3 workshops in the fall, and begin weekly music rehearsals (2 hours each) at the very start of the spring semester. As the show draws nearer, hosts also need to spend a great deal of time in choreography rehearsals, sketch workshops, shopping for costumes, and at group rehearsals and events. Check out a Host Scheduling Overview (PDF document) from a previous year to get an idea of a typical host schedule. The most recent Host Scheduling Overview can be found in the host audition information packet.

How many hosts are there?

There is no set number of hosts. We are always looking for what we perceive to be the best overall ensemble of hosts from our call-back auditions. In previous years, the final host ensemble size has varied from as few as 2 hosts to as many as 8! We truly have no pre-determined expectations of group size.

How many males/females do you select?

As with ensemble size, there is no set formula. Over the years, Songfest host ensembles have ranged from an all-female cast to an all-male cast, with most years featuring both men and women.

Are you looking for music majors and/or theater majors?

Not necessarily, and everyone is welcome to audition. We've probably cast more music and/or theater majors over the years than students majoring in most other disciplines, but we've also had far more students from these arts-based fields audition in the first place. We've had years in which no music or theater majors were selected as hosts. Bottom line- if you're a talented performer and you're a team player with a great "Songfest personality," we'd love to consider you!

I'm not really a dancer- should I audition?

Why not?!? Dancing ability is a consideration in the final selection process, but is not prioritized as highly as vocal quality/ability, musicality, personality, stage presence, and an individual's positive effect upon the greater group. We are happy to work with students without a lot of dance experience and/or dancing proficiency, provided that they are quick learners, charismatic individuals, and are ultimately able to appear natural and comfortable in their movement. The overall group emphasis upon dance also varies from year to year, and this obviously can have an impact upon how important a candidate's dancing ability is in the given year.

I'm overseas for the fall semester- can I still audition?

Unfortunately, no. There is a large amount of critical production work that must be done with all of the hosts during the fall semester, and we can't accomplish this with a student that is overseas.

I'm currently a graduate student at Pepperdine- can I still audition?

Only if you are you are a Seaver College student. The host selection process is only open to current Seaver students, who are (and will be) enrolled at Seaver College for both the fall and spring semesters.

Should I submit my resume and/or headshot?

Resumes and/or headshots are not necessary. As we fully consider each candidate, we get all the information we need from our Host Audition Form, Host Commitment Agreement, and the audition process itself.

What kind of experience do I need to have?

No particular experience is actually required of any candidate in order to be selected as a Songfest host. No performance credits are necessary, and we don't really care how elaborate (or modest) your performance history may be. As in any field, though, individuals may find themselves more capable, more developed, and better prepared as a result of their previous training and experience. We certainly don't hold previous experience against any of our candidates.

Do I have to be able to read music?

At a very basic level, yes. All of our musical host material is arranged, taught, and rehearsed while looking at sheet music. All of the hosts need to be comfortable reading, following, learning, and performing their specific parts from the written music. However, hosts do NOT have to have perfect pitch, play piano, be perfect sight-readers, be trained in music theory, etc.

What are you looking for in the hosts?

Lots of things! The ideal host is fun to watch, is an excellent musical performer with a good voice, can perform with stage presence, wit, and a sense of humor, can dance and move well on-stage, is charismatic and engaging, is able to blend well (vocally and otherwise) with the other hosts, has a humble and helpful attitude, is dedicated and hard-working, has a terrific personality, is able to work in high-stress situations, is able to keep a cool head when things go wrong, is willing to further rehearse the performance material on their own time, is reliable, shows up prepared and on time, and is committed to the overall group effort. That's "all!"

How do you make your final host decisions?

Once we have arrived at our final pool of candidates (those invited to the call-back auditions), we look for the best overall ensemble to emerge. This overall ensemble is much more important than any individual within it- we are looking for a group of students whose individual characteristics blend and merge with each others' in such a way that the overall group is as good, as interesting, and as entertaining as can be. Individual talent and ability are certainly important, but, in the final decision, are entirely secondary to the overall group effect. A few examples of this might include choral blend and musical balance, group appearance and movement qualities, collaborative chemistry and personal interaction, and a balance of strengths, weaknesses, and characteristics.

Inevitably, this approach means that sometimes there are some extremely talented and qualified individuals, who would truly make excellent hosts, who are not selected. This can occur simply because, to the best of our ability to judge, it is determined that the best overall ensemble is one that happens to come to the fore when other candidates are put together. It is not a decision against any particular candidate- and if the group had been different, the decision could have been completely different. It's definitely not a formula!

Why do you always bring back the same students as hosts?

Sometimes we do, and sometimes we don't- but it's never planned one way or the other. The fact is that no hosting "spots" are "reserved" for anyone, and every individual candidate (whether a previous host or not) has to go through the audition process anew each year, and is selected (or not) based on that year's pool of candidates. We've had plenty of hosts return and be selected a second (or third) time. We've also had lots of former hosts audition again, only to not be selected the next time around. We've also had hosts come back and audition, not be selected, only to then be selected again in a future year. There's no formula, and we're perfectly willing to either bring back former hosts or cast all-new hosts. Or a combination of both. But all candidates, whether former hosts or not, are evaluated the same way in each year's selection process.

I want to audition, but I have a conflict with host rehearsals. What should I do?

Depending on your conflict(s), we typically suggest that you audition. However, you should indicate your conflict(s) on your Host Audition Form, and you should definitely also verbally tell us the specifics of your conflict(s) during the audition process. Depending on the details, we are sometimes (but not always!) able to change the host rehearsal schedule in such a way that still accommodates everyone involved.

Who directs the hosts? Who writes their material? Who selects their music? Who does the choreography?

The hosts are directed by the Songfest Director, Musical Director, Host Choreographer, and one or more Host Consultants. Other key people working with the hosts are the Producer, Production Assistants, and in some years, a Host Costumer. Depending on the year, the host scripts are written by different people- sometimes it is the staff, sometimes it is the hosts themselves, and sometimes it is a combination of people. All of the staff and hosts spend time with each other discussing ideas for musical material, and the final musical selections are made by the Director and Musical Director. The choreography is usually prepared by the Host Choreographer, but in some years the choreography has been done by the Host Consultant, by the hosts themselves, or by other members of the staff.

I'm a Songfest group leader, but I also want to be a host. What should I do?

Unfortunately, there isn't a way to do both in the same year. The best thing to do is to decide which is more important to you. You can always start as a group leader, audition for host, and if you are not selected, return to the leadership of your group. However, it is very important to us that student groups not be abandoned- so if you don't have a co-leader or a replacement to take your place in the group should you be selected as host, then we'd normally prefer that you continue to lead your student group. Unless you are graduating, you can always audition again to be a host the following year. If you find yourself in this situation of having to choose, feel free to talk with the Songfest staff about your options.

I'm in another production or performance group. Can I still be a Songfest host?

Perhaps. If you can make all of the Songfest rehearsals and performances, and if you can meet all of the duties and requirements that are expected of the hosts, without hurting the ensemble, then we have no problem with you participating in another production or performance group. If you foresee a potential conflict, it is critical that you discuss this with the Songfest staff during the audition process.