The Singer's Studio. 3240 Prospect St. NW. Open auditions, Thursdays, 7:30 to 9 p.m.; performances, Fridays and Saturdays, 8:30 p.m. to midnight. Admission is $1 Thursdays (for non-performers), $3.50 weekends. 333-3933.

Thursday evenings the nonprofit Singer's Studio in Georgetown opens its doors for what director Bill Flanders gingerly calls "open auditions." Yes, Washington has a lot of self-styled signers and songwriters who see "open" nights as their ticket to the big time. But Washington also has a singificant number of promising musicians who need to be heard. So, Flanders attempts to strike a balance. The people who perform at the studio "are not rank amateurs," he emphasizes, but having "open auditions does mean that people can come down and expect to be heard, and I want to keep that." The reward for those who perform well is an invitation to return on a future Thursday night. The real acknowledgment of potential, though, is an invitation to perform on a Firday or Saturday. From the perspective of the audience, Singer's Studio resembles an oversized living room offering carpeted stairs for seats, with pillows to lean back on and room to sprawl. Self-service wine, beer, cider and coffee in real mugs reinforces its image as a relaxing, informal place to discover new and original talent.