Auditioning For Vocal and Drama High Schools in NYC

by betinah on January 14, 2021

Auditioning for Performing Arts High Schools in NYC has always been an exciting and challenging prospect. Parents wonder how to help their kids prepare. Do they need classes, private lessons, guidance? Every kid is different. At this age they can do a lot on their own, so if they are dedicated and have a strong vision, let them run with it. Just make sure their choices fit the requirements.

If you are able to, join a class or find a private coach to help select and perfect audition pieces. Even professional performers have teachers, coaches, and take classes to get feedback on their own performance skills and to continue to improve.

Email or call now to schedule a private lesson or a consultation.

I myself went to LaGuardia H.S. of the Performing Arts as a Dance Major, continued on as an Acting Major at Marymount Manhattan College on a Full Talent Scholarship, and went straight into musical theater performances, including the part of Meg in Phantom of the Opera.

I’ve coached many of my Garden Players students with their auditions and seen them go to LaGuardia H.S., Frank Sinatra H.S., Talent Unlimited, and more. Choosing the right material helps catch the auditioners’ eye, and then diving deeply into the material, being well prepared, performing with complete conviction, these are vital!

Check out all H.S. audition requirements and programs at the DOE site.

Here is the LaGuardia H.S. Website Audition Page. LaGuardia Arts, also known as the ‘Fame’ School, is a NYCDOE specialized high school. They are the only DOE specialized high school in the arts. Their dual-mission of focus on both professional preparation in conservatory arts and college preparatory academics is at the core of their values. Over the years, the school has earned an international reputation for excellence, with its alumni distinguishing themselves in virtually every field of endeavor, including the arts and sciences as well as public service and other professions! Here is a clip from their production of ‘In the Heights’ from a few years ago. Other clips from their drama, dance, and vocal departments can be found online!

Frank Sinatra H.S. was founded in 2001 by the great American singer and painter, Tony Bennett, and his wife Susan Benedetto, a public school teacher. The school integrates the arts with rigorous academics, requires a commitment to community service, and helps students cultivate a lifelong love of, and dedication to, their artistic passions and crafts. Frank Sinatra School of the Arts is located at the vibrant Kaufman Astoria Studios complex in Astoria, Queens. Here is the video of their Senior Drama monologue showcase. More clips and performances can be found on their website!

Talent Unlimited offers four years of student-centered, rigorous coursework simultaneously in the performing arts and liberal arts, preparing students for an arts conservatory or traditional college setting. The school educates in five performing arts fields: Vocal Music, Musical Theatre, Acting, Dance, and Instrumental Music. These programs are taught by well-experienced teachers and guest artists that have worked in their fields for over 10 years. Here is a short compilation of their work done during their production of ‘Godspell’!

PPAS (Professional Performing Arts School) Located in the heart of the theater district in Manhattan, PPAS was created in 1990 to meet the needs of two groups of students – those demonstrating a strong talent and passion for the performing arts and those who were pursuing professional work in the arts. Many of its students already have professional credits from Broadway, National Tours, and film and television. It is the special mission of this public school to develop, refine, and showcase students in dance, drama, musical theater, vocal and instrumental music while providing them with a comprehensive and rigorous academic curriculum. Watch this highlight reel of their 2019 production of ‘Caroline, or Change’!

LaGuardia has shared lists of songs and also plays with actors.

Monologues Audition Suggestions for LaGuardia: See suggestions for published plays that actors can read to find monologues within the plays. A monologue is any moment in the play that an actor is talking for around one minute without interruption. Small response lines from other actors can be omitted, as long as it doesn’t effect the meaning. (I have collected some wonderful monologues directly from these plays and help my students decide which monologues suite them best.)

In previous years LaGuardia HS suggested these vocal pieces:

Vocal Audition Suggestions LaGuardia HS Take a look at this list, but any classical, gospel, classic musical theater song, or other less popular song is appreciated as a choice. The songs on this list show a wide vocal range, often require commitment to singing, and high skill level. This does not mean that you must have training in order to get into the school, although training always helps any level of vocal student. In addition to a vocal selection, participants often clap or tap back rhythms and sing back notes to determine rhythm and ear training potential.

Whatever you choose, make sure you put time and effort into practicing your performance and that you get really excited about your choice!

And remember, most professional performers become professional performers because they do not give up. Just because one school or one person looks you over, it does not mean you don’t have the talent to succeed. Maybe they didn’t notice you because they were hungry. Maybe you needed a little more practice. If you deeply love your art form and continue to seek guidance, you will learn, you will develop skills, and you can succeed!

Betina Hershey runs Garden Players classes, teaches private lessons and audition preparation, writes musicals that have been published and performed in over 65 countries around the world, and has performed in musicals and bands worldwide. Her students go on to attend La Guardia H.S., Frank Sinatra, Talent Unlimited, Professional Performing Arts School, and more.

Contact Betina to schedule a consultation or private coaching now or sign up for classes at the link below.

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