National Student Auditions

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The exciting experience of NATS Student Auditions, where singers perform and receive written feedback, is now an annual national round of competition with total prizes of $30,000!

In 1952 the Southwest District Convention featured a student competition, the first of what would later be known as NATS Student Auditions. As NATS grew, so did student auditions, and now thousands of students participate in chapter, district, and region auditions each year, providing students with constructive feedback on their progress and deemed by members as one of the most important activities NATS organizes.

Originally for classical repertoire only, auditions now encompass music theater as well. NATS members provide thousands of hours of volunteer service to organize, execute, and judge auditions each year – providing a valuable service to singers of all ages. Previously, student auditions ended at the region level in many parts of the country.

In 2013, the NATS Board of Directors approved the launch of NATIONAL level student auditions for the first time in NATS history. Beginning in 2014, winners of region-level auditions will have the opportunity to submit their application for participation in national semifinal and final rounds - to be held in conjunction with the NATS National Conference every other year. The first national semifinal and final rounds were held in Boston in July 2014. More than 150 singers from around the country participated in the semifinal round of the first annual National Student Auditions at The Boston Conservatory. Thirty-seven students advanced to the final round and 24 students won a combined $30,000 in awards.

The 2015 National Student Auditions will be held at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro on July 7, 2015.

Printable flyer l Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) l Video Submission Guidelines

Audition Categories

*Age limits apply as of the dates for the regional auditions

**The age categories reflected below are official  

  Category Age Limit Years of Study
I High School Music Theater Men 14-19 no limit
II High School Music Theater Women 14-19 no limit
III High School Men 14-19 no limit
IV High School Women 14-19 no limit
V College/Private Music Theater Men 25 1-5 (all as undergraduate)
VI College/Private Music Theater Women 25 1-5 (all as undergraduate)
VII Lower College/Private Men  22 1-2 (beyond HS)
VIII Lower College/Private Women 22 1-2 (beyond HS)
IX Upper College/Private Men  25 3-5 (all as undergraduate)
X Upper College/Private Women 25 3-5 (all as undergraduate)
XI Graduate/Advanced Men  22-30 5+ (beyond HS)
XII Graduate/Advanced Women 22-30 5+ (beyond HS)

Repertoire Requirements

I & II - High School Music Theater Categories

THREE CONTRASTING MUSIC THEATER SELECTIONS from Broadway and Off-Broadway original shows and revivals.

* Timing for the audition will be limited to 8 minutes and will begin when the singer announces the first selection.

III & IV - High School Categories

1. One art song in English.

2. One art song in a foreign language.

3. One additional selection (from the classical repertoire.  Musical Theater repertoire may not be included in this category.)

* Timing for the audition will be limited to 8 minutes and will begin when the singer announces the first selection.

V & VI - College/Private Music Theater Categories

FOUR CONTRASTING MUSIC THEATER SELECTIONS from Broadway and Off-Broadway original shows and revivals.  One of the four selections may be from an opera or operetta.

* Timing for the audition will be limited to 12 minutes and will begin when the singer announces the first selection.

VII & VIII - Lower College/Private Categories

1. One aria (sung in original language or in English translation when appropriate).

2. One art song in English (original language).

3. One foreign language art song (sung in the original language).

* Timing for the audition will be limited to 10 minutes and will begin when the singer announces the first selection.

IX & X - Upper College/Private Categories

1. One aria (sung in original language or in English translation when appropriate).

2. One art song in English (original language).

3. One foreign language art song (sung in the original language).

4. One additional selection (sung in the original language and selected from the classical repertoire.  Musical Theater repertoire may not be included in this category.)

* Timing for the audition will be limited to 12 minutes and will begin when the singer announces the first selection.

XI & XII - Graduate/Advanced Categories

1. One operatic aria (sung in the original language or in English translation when appropriate).

2. One oratorio/cantata aria (sung in the original language or in English translation when appropriate).

3. One foreign language art song (sung in the original language).

4. One English art song (sung in English).

5. One additional selection (sung in the original language and selected from the classical Repertoire.  Musical Theater repertoire may not be included in this category.)

* No more than two of the selections may be in English.

* Timing for the audition will be limited to 15 minutes and will begin when the singer announces the first selection.  

Process and Organization 

A.    Preliminary Rounds

The competition begins at the Regional Level with each region following its own mechanism for advancing singers to the national competition.

Each Region advances the top 3 singers in each category to the National YouTube screening level (i.e., 3 each from Lower College Men, Lower College Women, etc.). In the event of ties, all singers with 1st, 2nd or 3rd place outcomes may advance.  In Regions where audition categories differ from those at the national level, the top 3 singers from each regional category will advance to the National YouTube screening level (i.e., 3 each from regional Freshman Women, 3 each from regional Sophomore Women for a total of 6 to compete in Lower College Women at the National YouTube screening level).

In the event that a Region does not hold a Regional Audition but would like to include students in the National Student Auditions, that Region will adopt a mechanism to audition students for advancement to the National YouTube screening level. This may involve assembling an audition panel in the spring (much like NATSAA) and hearing student winners from Chapter and/or District auditions. Each Region will communicate its process to the National Auditions Coordinator.

Regions may use different audition categories and/or repertoire requirements, but all singers competing in the National Student Auditions will follow the National guidelines for categories and repertoire. At the time of application for the National Student Auditions, each singer must certify that the repertoire that s/he is submitting was included in the repertoire that s/he submitted at the regional level. If regional repertoire requirements differ from the national requirements, the singer may only substitute repertoire for the selection(s) that vary from the regional requirements.

Music Theater students who exceed the age limits for the College/Private Music Theater categories are eligible for participation in the National Music Theater Competition and are encouraged to enter that competition.  

B.    National YouTube Screening

The national rounds of the competition will begin with eligible singers from each region completing online registration for the national auditions and submitting a YouTube video for initial judging and comments.  All of the repertoire selections for the applicable audition category, as set forth in the requirements for the National Student Auditions must be included on the YouTube video; and the footage of this video must not be edited.  Fourteen singers from each audition category will be invited to the live National Semifinal Round. 

C.   National Semifinal Round

The National Semifinal round will take place during the National Conference or Workshop.  Each singer participating in the national semi-final round will begin with a selection of his or her choice and continue with selections chosen by the judges according to the national repertoire requirements and within the prescribed time limits for each audition category.  Three singers from each audition category will advance to the National Final Round. In the event of ties, more than three singers may advance.

D.   National Final Round

The National Final Round will take place during the National Conference or Workshop.  Each participating singer will sing one selection of his or her choice.  This selection must be one of the pieces submitted in the previous national rounds of the competition.  Award certificates will be presented to all three finalists with monetary awards for the First and Second Place Winners in each audition category.

Number of Contestants

If all Regions submit three (3) singers from each of their various regional categories, the approximate numbers will be as follows:

YouTube Screening – 700 singers

14 singers per category will advance to the National Semi-Final round

National Semifinal Round – 168 singers

3 singers per category will advance to the National Final round

National Final Round – 36 singers

2015 Audition Schedule

March 30, 2015 - Deadline for each NATS region to submit a list of eligible singers and the repertoire for each to the National Student Auditions Coordinator – March 31, 2015

April 23, 2015 - Deadline for YouTube submissions 

May 7, 2015 - Deadline for judging results from YouTube

May 15, 2015 - Date to notify semifinalists (Approximately 6 weeks prior to semifinals)

July 7, 2015 - National Student Auditions semifinals and finals at the NATS Summer Workshop at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

Audition fees

Registration Fee:  $75

This is a registration fee for the National Auditions, and covers all rounds:  YouTube screening, Semifinals and Finals. This fee provides for a pianist at the Semifinal and Final rounds of the competition, should the singer so desire; and includes national conference registration for all sessions.  This is separate from any Chapter, District, and/or Regional Audition fees.

Pianists

Each singer may collaborate with his or her own pianist at all levels of the competition.  For those singers who elect to use a Staff Pianist, one will be provided at the National Semi-Final and Final rounds at no extra cost to the singer. While no rehearsals will be possible with the Staff Pianists prior to or during the Semi-Final round, singers who advance to the Final round and are using a Staff Pianist will be allotted a ten-minute rehearsal with the pianist immediately preceding the audition.  

Adjudication

Judging panels for the National YouTube screening, the National Semi-Finals, and the National Finals will be selected by the National Student Auditions Coordinator in consultation with the National Vice President for Auditions.  Sources for eligible adjudicators will include:

  • Any teacher with a singer who is competing may be invited to judge a category in which his or her student is not competing
  • NATS members attending the Conference or Workshop may indicate on the registration form a willingness to serve as a judge
  • NATS members who reside in the area of the Conference or Workshop may be contacted to serve as judges

Prize monies and/or awards

High School, Music Theater, Lower College Categories*

$1,200             1st place in category (x8 categories = $9,600)

$600                2nd place in each category (x8 categories = $4,800)

$450                3rd place in each category (x8 categories = $3,600)

Upper College and Graduate Categories*

$1,600             1st place in category (x4 categories = $6,400)

$900                2nd place in each category (x4 categories = $3,600)

$500                3rd place in each category (x8 categories = $2,000)

*Should there be a ties, the awards for the will be pooled and divided evenly between the singers.  Both will be named Place Winners. Not all prizes must be awarded in all categories, depending on enrollment and/or judging.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

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