Five Essential Steps to Nailing Your NYC High School Vocal Auditions 

Feb 29, 2024 | Acting, Auditions, Voice

Five Essential Steps to Nailing Your NYC High School Vocal Auditions 

One of the biggest mistakes families make during prep for high school admission vocal auditions is putting more thought into their repertoire choice than the actual preparation of their chosen piece. It’s nice to be clever, but better to be smart. The quality of your performance is what will get you into LaGuardia, Frank Sinatra, or PPAS. 

Follow these Five Essential Steps, and you will be ready to nail your NYC High School Vocal Auditions, whether singing “Last Rose of Summer” or “Happy Birthday.” Just kidding, please don’t sing “Happy Birthday.”  

1.) Find the Right Key 

Great! You’ve found the perfect song to bring out who you are and show your strongest vocal qualities. Now, you need to find the ideal key to sing that song. Be sure to find a key in the most comfortable range for you. It shouldn’t sit too low or stretch to your absolute highest note. It should sit in a tessitura that you are comfortable with, highlighting the best parts of your voice. I always tell students to find the gold. The key that makes your voice shine with ease and color is where the gold is. 

2.) Map Out the Breaths 

This one will benefit singers of all levels. My students on Broadway still need breaths marked. The more air you have in the lungs, the less effort it takes to sing. It’s that simple. Place your breaths strategically to promote long musical lines and maintain the integrity of the ideas presented by the lyrics. Breathe with the song. This technique will help you connect dramatically with the piece and keep you locked in rhythmically. 

3.) Shape the Dynamics 

Dynamics are how a musician shapes a piece musically – how loud is the piece, are the phrases long and smooth or short and attacked? Aim to shape a musical arc that evolves. To best map out your dynamics, study the accompaniment. It will give you clues about when to sing forte, pull a piece back, or build it up. Lastly, ask yourself why the composer set a certain feel with a particular lyric. The answer will tell you how to put the song across. 

4.) Map Out the Vowels 

Singers use vowel sounds to tune pitch and carry tone(it actually is how you track resonance!). Go through your piece and isolate each vowel sound. Try singing the song with the consonants removed or replace them with a “Y” or “NYA” sound. Once you understand the pure vowels in your piece, put the consonants back in and sing those pure vowel sounds. 

5.) Practice your song in time! 

This step is often the most overlooked part of high school vocal applicants’ preparation. Rhythm is 50% of music. The vocal programs all score you on your sense of time and rhythm. Practice your piece with a metronome and or a professional track that was recorded with a click. This move will give you muscle memory of singing your song in time. * note if you are singing acapella, use the metronome only. 

There you have it. Five actionable steps that will bring you closer to nailing your high school vocal audition more than any clever song choice ever could. 

Break a leg! 

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The Danny Greenberg Studio is a professional performing arts studio for children aged 5 to 18 in New York (Brooklyn and Manhattan!) and online, focusing on vocal and acting training.

 Our students star annually in numerous Broadway shows, national tours, and feature films. Our studio welcomes students of all levels between 6 and 18 to foster their love of performing. Once they’re ready, we also help connect students to top agents and casting directors.

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We provide private lessons in-person and online in singing, acting, audition coaching, industry professional workshops, showcases, musical theater classes, and admissions prep with curriculums tailored to each child’s needs so they can build their self-confidence. Each year, we coach students for DOE High School auditions, and they consistently get into Laguirdia, Frank Sinatra, and PPAS. We teach acting, singing, and dancing lessons in midtown Manhattan, Greenpoint, and Park Slope Brooklyn. Zoom lessons are also available. Contact us for more information on the admissions process.