The College of Arts and Architecture

Penn State Graduate Voice Auditions

When you come to audition, you'll get to meet students and faculty, see our music buildings and enjoy our beautiful campus and town. You are encouraged to come a day early to sit in on classes and interact with our students.
As for the voice audition itself, there are several parts to the day.
(1) We listen to each singer in his or her prepared audition material (the student chooses the first piece to perform and then we choose any others we might wish to hear).  We evaluate each singer using criteria such as tone, posture, breathing, communication, musicality, etc. We are also interested to read your file in order to learn about your accomplishments and to see what the letters of recommendation say about your work.

(2) Candidates who seem like the best match for our programs are called back for individual mini-lessons and interviews. The lessons are a chance for us to work technically on certain aspects of your earlier performance, give us a chance to see how you respond to instruction, and give you a chance to see what voice study at Penn State might be like. In the interview we will be interested to learn more about the specific goals and background of each singer. Singers who are called back also have a brief aural skills session that includes basic tonal memory and sight-reading.  In addition, students interested in the Master of Music in Voice Performance and Pedagogy degree will be asked to teach a brief demo lesson, including vocalizing and working on a song.
Optional Friday Schedule
12:15-1:20 Concert Choir (room 110, Music Building 1)
2:30-3:20 Common Hour (Esber Recital Hall)
3:30-4:30 Voice Forum (room 110)

Saturday Schedule
9:30 General Meeting (Esber Recital Hall)
10:00-1:00 Singing Auditions (room 110)
1:30-4:00 Lessons, interviews (on a call-back basis)

While it takes the better part of the day to get through these various steps, we like to get to know our prospective students as well as possible - and think you probably want to get to know us as well as you can, too.
Note: We are no longer accepting recorded auditions.  We do not generally give feedback after auditions.  A prospective student is limited to two audition attempts.

Auditionees should prepare at least five memorized art songs or arias representing various languages and/or style periods. At least one of the selections must be in English and one of the selections must be an opera or oratorio aria sung in the original language. The material should show a breadth of abilities (agility, legato, range, etc.).
Applicants should furnish a repertoire list either before or at the time of the audition.

Our seven resident voice faculty teach approximately 50 voice majors (graduate and undergraduate) and about another 50 musical theatre majors (though these students audition and matriculate through the School of Theatre). It's an open, sharing, and cohesive department, and students who come here work closely with most of the voice faculty in some capacity during their degree. In addition to teaching studio voice, each of us also teaches courses in a related area:
Ted Christopher, Opera Theatre
Richard Kennedy, Lyric Diction, Area Coordinator
Beverly Patton, Music Theatre Voice, Opera Theatre
*Mary Saunders, Music Theatre Voice and Pedagogy
Raymond Sage, Music Theatre Voice
*Norman Spivey, Voice Pedagogy  
Jennifer Trost, Vocal Literature and Opera Literature

We have a weekly Voice Forum - it's a voice area performance class for which students sign up to sing. Something we like very much about Forum is that a teacher other than your regular studio instructor provides feedback and coaching. It’s another chance for our students to gain input from a variety of sources, and a chance for the faculty to continue learning from each other. The way we set out to learn from and share with each other is very special, and is something that we think enables our students to learn and grow together in a demanding, supportive and nurturing environment. There are, of course, many other performing opportunities for students, as well: Common Hour, Choirs (seven major choral ensembles, plus several smaller choirs), Opera Theatre, School of Music / School of Theatre Musicals and Operettas, Thespians, Bach’s Lunch, Concerto Competition, Recitals, Master Classes (with visiting national and international artists), NATS-sponsored events, Juries, in addition to off-campus organizations and events.