FAQ - Student Auditions

Have additional repertoire or copyright questions?


For the high school and first year college/independent studio categories, we typically require only two pieces because many of the college freshman have only been taking voice lessons with their current teacher for four to five weeks.  Since members may prefer to work on new repertoire, it may be that two new pieces for NATS auditions is the limit for these students.  So, MUST we insist on three pieces in those categories?

The national regulations require three selections for those categories. Perhaps a combination of two new selections and one older piece is the solution. Other NATS entities have made this change (from two to three selections) for both the high school and freshman divisions and it is challenging but workable.

Operetta is listed under the definition of aria but musical theatre says golden age, so is an operetta aria perhaps from a Sigmund Romberg or Victor Herbert show allowed in musical theatre categories?

As long as the operetta aria meets the definition of staged and “On” or “Off” Broadway it is allowed.

Is it possible to use a score during the performance of an oratorio aria for reference only during a NATS Student Audition at the Chapter level?

Memorization of all selections is required in all levels of NATS student auditions.

In light of the 12 minute requirement for 4 selections and 10 minutes for 3 selections, may we have permission to make judicious cuts of: piano introductions, piano interludes, piano music after the vocal solo is completed, verse or verses of selections, internal cuts of opera arias as historically and successfully made on many professional recordings?

All of the “judicious cuts” that you have listed below are acceptable, except number 4.  We should attempt to represent the vocal line of each piece in its entirety, except where there are traditional cuts, as you mention in operatic arias.  So, in the case of strophic pieces, all verses that are traditionally included should remain. The specific rule states: Piano introductions, piano interludes, piano music after the vocal solo is completed, and internal cuts of opera arias and music theater selections are allowed as in common performance practice. Cuts of verse or verses of selections are not allowed. In the case of strophic pieces, all verses should remain that are traditionally included.

May students sing for comment only in student NATS auditions at the Chapter and District level?

As the rule states: Any student may register to sing for comments only and participate in the preliminary audition round.

May songs from Disney movie musicals be used in the Music Theater categories?

Selections from movie musicals may not be used in Music Theater categories for NATS auditions. All repertoire must be from staged Broadway and Off-­Broadway productions. The production may be a musical, revue, or song cycle but MUST have been staged AND Broadway or Off-­Broadway.

Can any of the pieces found in the 24/26/28 Italian Songs and Arias books be used to fulfill the aria requirement for the lower college division?  Can only those marked aria/arietta? Can none of them? 

If the singer is in one of the High School or Lower College Classical Divisions (III, IV, VII, VIII), ANY repertoire found in the 24/26/28 Italian Songs and Arias books may be considered as art songs AND/OR as operatic arias, regardless of origin.  If the singer is in category IX or above (Upper College and Graduate), ANY repertoire found in the 24/26/28 Italian Songs and Arias books may be considered as art songs ONLY, regardless of origin.  Any comparable literature found outside the 24/26/28  Italian Songs and Arias books, regardless of composer, will be considered only as the composer originally intended, either as an aria OR an art song. 

May any operatic aria be used for the ‘Operatic Aria’ repertory requirement in the Lower College/Independent Studio category, especially for freshmen, categories?  Or is there a list of acceptable arias for younger singers?

There is not a list of arias for singers of any age. The aria choice is made by the teacher and student. The choice of appropriate arias and art songs should be made based on the vocal development and maturity level of the singer.

What is the rationale for requiring repertoire selections for Music Theater categories to be Staged and On or Off Broadway?

The rationale the Regulations Committee employed for determining the repertoire for Music Theater Categories in the new regulations included considerations beyond those of individual members, their voice students and local Chapters/Districts.  We looked at these requirements from the perspective of auditions personnel, consistency with other NATS auditions, adjudication concerns, differences in the many NATS Chapters, districts and regions across the US and Canada, and framed requirements that best suited the many constituencies that make up our entire organization.  The committee noted the following:

  • Music Theater categories are still relatively new in many Chapters and Districts in the NATS organization even though many entities have had these categories in their auditions for many years.  
  • There are still significant concerns in many NATS entities about the adjudication of MUTH categories.  Many NATS members ask to be excused from adjudicating the categories even though they may enter students in them and are therefore teaching MUTH repertoire.
  • One of the major concerns regarding adjudication of the MUTH categories is unfamiliarity with the repertoire and the appropriate vocal techniques for their presentation.
  • Many NATS Chapters and Districts (and Regions) will adopt the regulations and begin MUTH categories in the next few years.
  • The new regulations are designed to be flexible and can be changed and updated through the feedback from the Chapters, Districts and Regions after adoption and implementation during the 2015/16 audition cycle.
  • The MUTH repertoire must be vetted by the auditions chairs /committees of the NATS Chapters/Districts/Regions and NSA (National Student Auditions.  The present definition is easily vetted utilizing many different sources.
  • Just as there is consistency between the requirements for Student Auditions and NATS Artist Awards(NATSAA), the committee supports consistency in repertoire requirements between Student Auditions and the NATS National Music Theater Competition.
  • The present definition includes repertoire from a very large number of musicals, revues and song cycles and is comprehensive enough for teachers to find appropriate selections for their students.

Why must Music Theater repertoire be performed in original keys?

  • Original keys are required in order to retain the dramatic intentions, vocal characteristics and gender intended by the composer.
  • Random key changes may alter a piece so radically that it might force a belt piece to be sung basically with a head/mix).
  • Online sites that allow just about any key imaginable feeds the misinformation about a role/piece actually being appropriate IN PERFORMANCE for a singer
  • Key changes in Broadway productions are mostly reserved for big name performers and are not common .
  • Information about original keys is readily available on line in most cases.
  • Performing in alternate keys based on common performance practice means ORIGINAL KEY except in very unusual circumstances and those are VERY few
  • When theaters rent shows—ie. Oklahoma for instance they are not given the option of picking multiple keys.  They are sent the parts and that is what they are. 


Are the regulations and logos posted online so that we can link to them from our website?

The regulations are posted on the website.

 If there are not enough entrants in a category, e.g. we have three Upper College Music Theater male entrants, are we allowed to combine them with another category and have just Upper College Music Theater?

The categories can be combined with a category the closest in age, years of study and repertoire requirements. The category numbering system and other requirements should be retained. Both categories could be adjudicated by the same group of adjudicators.

On page nine it states: “Singers in all classifications will sing one song of their choice and then songs   selected by the adjudicators within the time limits.” Does this mean singers should sing for the full time limit, e.g. 8 minutes? We typically hear two pieces in the lower categories and three in the upper college/independent studio, but if I understand this correctly, we are to have them sing until time or repertoire expires, whichever is first, correct?

Yes, singers should use the entire time limit unless the total of all selections is less than the time limit. You have the option for a shorter total time limit if you want to limit the number of selections in that way.

Is there any problem if students are under time in any category? Must repertoire fill the time provided?

The minimum/maximum in time limits is in the regulations to accommodate entities that may already have shorter or longer time requirements in their categories. Teachers and students should be encouraged (but not required) to select repertoire that fills the time parameter assigned to a particular category. Each singer should use the entire time limit unless their repertoire does not fill the entire time. Audition personnel can keep the audition on time by assigning nine minute intervals to eight minute singing time slots. There should be no penalties assigned to time limits.

Are semi-finals and/or finals required at the Chapter/District auditions? 

At the Chapter/District auditions, semi and final rounds are not required.  See Options #1 and #3 on   pages 9-10.

Do Chapter and District auditions need to use the same age limit eligibility dates for singer categories as the National Student Auditions?

The singer category age limits for the National Student Auditions are as of the dates for the Regional Auditions. The singer category age limits for Chapter and District auditions can vary from the NSA and Regional Auditions as long as their respective Regional Auditions are not progressive to NSA. If they do progress to NSA then the Regional Audition eligibility dates would apply.

Are all NATS entities using the same official logos and titles for their student auditions?

Yes, the logos are on page 4 of the document and will be available on the NATS web site. The auditions names are:   “Chapter and District auditions shall be known as:

“NATS Student Auditions: _____________Chapter” or

“NATS Student Auditions: _____________District”

Who should teacher members contact for issues regarding the age/years of study or gender identity constraints of singers in student auditions?

Those teachers should contact the NSA Coordinator,  .

Are Chapters, Districts and Regions required to include the Hall Johnson Spiritual Category in their auditions during conference years?

There is no requirement to include this category but all entities are encouraged to include it in their offerings to student singers.


Can the prize awards for categories reflect the current practice of our Chapter?

Yes, as stated on page 10 “Monetary prizes and other awards will be developed at the discretion of the entity holding auditions.” There is one regulation pertaining to ties in categories:

“Ties: Should there be more than one first place winner, the awards for the first and second places will be pooled and divided equally among the winners. All will be called First Place Winners. This policy holds for ties in all the places. In the event that there are more than five finalists, a certificate of "Honorable Mention" will be awarded to other finalists.”

On pg. 9 it says, "All Student Auditions and National Student Auditions must use the same scoring system, enabling scoring data comparisons across all NATS Regions." Must all NATS entities adhere to the scoring system as well? Does this mean the scoring system only applies to Regional levels and above?

All NATS regions means all entities within NATS regions—Chapter, District, Region, and National auditions. Therefore all student NATS auditions will use the same scoring system.

Our Chapter usually has less than 200 entrants in our auditions, so we never have a semifinals. Our practice has been to advance all worthy contestants who score two scores of 90 or higher or have an average score of 90 or higher.  Under option 2 it says "the agreed upon number of singers based on scores will advance to the final round".  Who agrees on the number? Can the chapter decide how many should advance to finals, e.g. all those who score two 90s...etc. or the top 7 singers with 90s or average of 90, etc.?

The Chapter should decide the number finalists for the audition. This number can be the current practice that the Chapter has used in the past using the new scoring system.

Based on our chapter's use of rubrics, they may be difficult to sell to a skeptical crowd. The question will be “What are the general standards for each category, or are we to use the one standard provided for all categories, in which case we may not have any finalists in the high school or lower college divisions as they are very unlikely to meet even the80-89 descriptors?" How is it possible to modify that specific criteria based on a category without a category specific standard? It is like comparing an apple to an orange.

The rubrics define a national standard with common definition of terms and standards and would be progressive as singers age both physically and musically just as the repertoire and time limits progress in the category charts. The rubric is not the score sheet—it is for reference—to inform teachers about common definitions and reference points---educators use assessment tools all of the time and an audition is an assessment of a performance.  In vocal performance we do compare apples to oranges—no two voices are alike and no two sets of adjudicator’s ears are alike but we must have a meeting of the minds: common understanding of terms-especially in pedagogy-this is not something to fear or mistrust.  Some NATS entities have been using rubrics for more than ten years—the adjudication of those auditions has improved.

On page nine it states under “Adjudicating Standard”

“The national standard is stated in the first column of the adjudication rubric. (See pp. 14-­15) The language describes the qualities an ideal singer will have. As adjudicators hear singers they should compare the singer’s performance against the general standard for the category they are adjudicating. One way this could be addressed would be to add the clause “ for a xxx category singer” to each standard.”

What is meant by “NATS members who register students to audition are expected to serve as adjudicators as necessary to run successful auditions. (page 5)”

There are NATS entities (chapters/districts) that have established policies regarding adjudicating--either requiring a member who is not in attendance to find a substitute and/or pay an absentee fee.  Some entities limit the use of the absenteeism or the number of students the teacher may enter when they are not present.  NATS entities should develop policies that best suit the needs of their auditions and their membership.

Have additional repertoire or copyright questions?

All questions specific to the rules and regulations, copyright, or about repertoire and requirements, should be directed in an email to the . Please include your name, chapter/district and audition category.