Your voice is a very personal thing, so it’s hard to hear it’s not good enough. Singing scales, matching pitch, and being vulnerable while you sing a solo is an extremely difficult thing to do. Even if you’ve given your all during auditions and callbacks, if you’re lucky enough to get one, there isn’t a high chance you’ll make it in the group you want, let alone a group at all. Gathering a little bit from my experience, as well as learning from the auditioning process on the other side, it takes a lot of guts to not take the mic from that a cappella group and show them what they’re missing out on, whatever your singing ability.
DO keep singing in the shower
From the perspective of the a cappella group, a big part of auditions is critiquing your voice and seeing how well it would fit within the group as a whole. There’s a common belief that singers who are professionally trained have a higher chance of getting into a group. I would push against this theory a little bit. Imagine a trained voice as a nice scoop of artisanal gelato from the Italian bakery, and a really good untrained voice as a delicious pint of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream. Both have their advantages and disadvantages. Gelato is smooth and very consistent in taste, but Ben & Jerry’s has so many different flavors and the pints are never homogeneous so you can get BIG chunks of chocolate if you’re lucy. A trained voice might be boring sometimes, and an untrained voice just might not be easy to work with. At the end of a long day, either type of ice cream, or voice, is perfectly suitable in my book.
DON’T take it personally
Sometimes groups are looking for the voice that can blend really well with the voices that are already in the group, or are looking to take in more guys than girls, or more sopranos than altos. Without context, it’s never clear why you really didn’t get into the group. When it comes down to it, the reason why you did or didn’t get in is all because of timing. It could be that a number of seniors just graduated and the group will take more people, or a co-ed group is down to only two boys and they’re looking for more male voices.
DO try out for other clubs
The worst thing to do would be to stay in your dorm and sulk. That’s not healthy, and we like being mentally and physically healthy. Go outside, meditate a bit, relearn what you love to do, and see if your school offers those activities on campus, and try out for those! You never know, maybe this is a calling for Club Volleyball or Latin Dancing.
DO try out the following year (but learn from the first time)
Failure is not something that should cripple your dreams. If being in an a cappella group is your dying wish, and you can’t imagine your college experience without it, try out again! Or join a group that doesn’t require auditions. If you decide to audition again, learn from what you did the first time.
In general, I would advise that you try really hard to get your scales down and learn to project while keeping your breath supported by pushing down on your diaphragm. Also, pitch matching can be nerve wracking, so be sure to practice matching a few pitches on the piano that are 4-6 notes long. For your solo, I would find out what your range is (using this instructional video) , and then choose a song that you enjoy singing and that matches the vibe of the group. In other words, don’t come prepared with Judy Garland’s Somewhere over the Rainbow to a Slovakian Chorus group. This will make the auditioning process a lot easier the next time, and maybe the odds will be in your favor!
Or just do what I did and audition again as a beatboxer--a cappella groups always need those! Take a few weeks and practice using this wikihow tutorial.