National Student Auditions
The exciting experience of NATS Student Auditions, where singers perform and receive written feedback, includes a national round of competition and prizes.
Who may sing in National Student Auditions?
In order to sing in the NATS National Student Auditions, you must study with a current member of NATS. The category for which you are eligible to sing typically is decided by the amount of time you have studied voice, by your age, and by your year in school.
When are the National Student Auditions and what are the rules?
Each chapter, district, or region sets their own auditions schedule; most of these auditions are listed on our Region Events listing. If you study with a NATS teacher, he or she can obtain information and application materials from their local NATS chapter or region. Complete National Student Auditions regulations may be found in the NSA Resource Center.
How it works
Typically each event begins with a preliminary round, in which students sing only for a panel of adjudicators and perhaps a small audience. Some events progress to quarterfinals, semifinals, and/or directly to finals. Finalists in the adjudications usually perform again for everyone present, and many chapters and regions offer prizes for their winners.
- Chapter Auditions
- In most cases, chapter auditions are stand-alone events that do not advance to the region or national levels. In some cases, however, regions may decide to hold progressive auditions in which students must begin at the chapter level and qualify to advance to region auditions.
- Region Auditions
- In order to participate in the national rounds of these auditions, students of NATS members must qualify by performing during their region auditions. The top 5 singers from each eligible region category advance to the national online preliminary round.
- National Preliminary Auditions
- Each singer who advances from a region audition must apply and submit videos of their performances for adjudication by a panel of international judges in the national preliminary round.
- National Semifinals and Finals
- 14 singers from each of the 18 categories (plus the Hall Johnson Spirituals Competition during conference years and the American Negro Spirituals Categories in non-conference years) advance to the national semifinal round.
- From there, the top 3 singers from each category compete in the national final round.
- The national final rounds will be held in conjunction with the NATS 2023 Summer Workshop (July 7-9, 2023, San Diego).
- Entry Fee: $75 per category
- Prizes: Prizes for 1st, 2nd and 3rd place will total at least $44,000.
- Competition Dates: Online national screening begins second Friday in April, with the national finals scheduled in conjunction with the 2023 NATS Summer Workshop (July 7-9, 2023, San Diego).
- Deadline to Apply: April 14, 2023 (applications by emailed invitation-only, following regional auditions)
The entry fee, prizes, dates, and deadlines listed above apply to the national level only. Chapters and Regions have their own fees, prizes, dates, and deadlines.
High School, Lower Musical Theatre/Classical Categories*
$1,200 - 1st place in each category**
$600 - 2nd place in each category
$450 - 3rd place in each category
Upper Musical Theatre/Classical Categories*
$1,600 - 1st place in each category
$900 - 2nd place in each category
$500 - 3rd place in each category
*Should there be a tie, an award will be pooled and divided evenly between the singers. Both winners will be named place winners. Not all prizes must be awarded in all categories, depending on enrollment and/or adjudication.
**Dorothy Sawatski Prize for 1st place in the Lower Classical Treble Voice category
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.
Former NATS President Roy Delp believed that “the idea of constructive criticism along with encouragement” is at the heart of our student adjudications. "Perhaps one of the greatest ties that binds us together as NATS members is the care we have for the students of our colleagues, as demonstrated at our student auditions.” (Journal of Singing, 2000, Vol.57, No.1 p.2)
Originally for classical repertoire only, auditions now encompass music theater, spirituals and other contemporary musical styles and genres 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, which began in 2014. National semifinal and final rounds are held every summer, alternating in conjunction with the NATS National Conference and NATS National Workshop.
The NATS Advocacy Committee, with the support of the NSA Committee and NATS leadership, is supporting an endeavor to promote diversity in repertoire selection by choosing a different theme biennially. The committee's first initiative was music by women composers. We want to encourage the membership to program music by women during the competition and recital seasons. Learn more about current and past initiatives. We encourage members to program music that represents these initiatives during the competition and recital seasons.
- (2023) Each NSA video title should be in the following format: NATS NSA – Singer’s First and Last Name (Note: All video titles should be the same at all levels, and videos at any level should no longer contain any reference to chapter, region, etc.)
- (2022) High School Musical Theatre and Classical categories have been divided into both Lower (First and Second Year) and Upper (Third and Fourth Year)
- (2021) The American Negro Spiritual Categories are being made available through an anonymous donor's challenge grant. The ANSC will offer three categories: 1. High School, 2. First thru Third Year College Age, and 3. Fourth/Fifth year College Age thru Graduate. Held every other year, the first ANSC will take place in 2021
- (2016) The Hall Johnson Spirituals Category has been made available through a very generous donation to NATS from the Hall Johnson Estate. The best performance of a Hall Johnson spiritual will earn a $2000 prize. Held every other year, the next Hall Johnson award will take place in 2022.
National Round Audition Eligibility and Application Process
Student singers may only advance to the national round through their respective region auditions.
- Each NATS region holds an audition (in-person or online).
- Each region advances the top five singers in each eligible category (1-8) to the National Preliminary Round. The National Preliminary Round will be conducted via YouTube.
- In the event of ties, all singers with top five outcomes may advance.
- In regions where audition categories are subdivided according to the National Student Auditions Regulations, the top five singers from each eligible region category will advance to the National Preliminary Round (i.e., five each from region Freshman MT/CL Treble, five each from region Sophomore MT/CL Treble, for a total of 10 to compete in Lower MT/CL Treble at the National Preliminary Round).
- Immediately following their auditions, each region sends a list of qualifying students to the NATS National Competitions and Auditions Coordinator.
- The NATS National Office will send an e-mail letter of invitation and complete instructions to the qualifying students.
- If you know you have qualified for NSA, you should begin working on your YouTube videos using the NSA Video Submission Guidelines linked below.
- Each NSA application has a $75 fee. If a singer enters a classical and a musical theatre category, there are two $75 fees, one for each category.
- Singers must sing the same repertoire at the national level as they sang at the regional level.
Make sure to check out the resources below for more information!
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)