When you come to audition at Penn State, you'll get to meet students and faculty, see our music buildings, and enjoy our beautiful campus and town. You are encouraged to arrive a day early to sit in on classes and rehearsals, and to interact with our students.
In the morning session, a panel of voice faculty listens to the auditionees' prepared audition material. Singers choose their first selection and the faculty asks for additional performance material as needed. Please provide a repertoire sheet listing audition titles and composers. Singers should also verbally announce their selections. We will look at your Voice Student Background Form and any other mateials in your file to learn about your musical accomplishments. We will also assess basic tonal memory and sightreading.
Candidates who seem like the best match for our program are called back for individual mini-lessons and interviews with a member of the voice faculty. 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 your background and specific goals.
Although it takes the better part of the day to complete the process, we like to get to know our potential students — and we think you probably want to get to know us too.
The voice faculty does not provide feedback after auditions.
Auditionees should prepare three memorized songs from the standard classical vocal literature (contrasting styles, at least one in English and one in Italian). The material need not be excessively demanding, but should show a breadth of abilities (agility, legato, range, etc.) and complement your current level of skill. We will be interested in vocal and musical ability that show promise of successful college-level study, including clarity and vibrancy of tone, appropriate musical expression and communication, and musicianship. Additional repertoire from musical theatre or other styles may be included beyond the three classical selections.
Students auditioning as transfer students from other institutions should also furnish a list of repertoire previously studied.
Our seven resident voice faculty teach approximately 50 voice majors (graduate and undergraduate) and about another 50 musical theatre majors (these students audition and matriculate through the School of Theatre). We have 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
- Rachel Copeland, Lyric Diction
- Norman Spivey, Voice Pedagogy
- Jennifer Trost, Vocal Literature and Opera Literature
- Beverly Patton, Musical Theatre Voice, Opera Theatre
- Raymond Sage, Musical Theatre Voice
- Gwen Walker, Musical Theatre Voice
We have a weekly Voice Forum - a combined-studios masterclass. 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. The voice area also offers a weekly "Bach's Lunch" concert series. There are many other performing opportunities for students, as well: Common Hour, Choirs, Opera Theatre, School of Music/School of Theatre musicals and joint productions, Thespians, Philharmonic Concerto Competition, recitals, masterclasses (with visiting national and international artists), NATS-sponsored events, and juries, in addition to off-campus organizations and events.