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Vocal Music


All students must complete an audition profile on our virtual audition platform, Acceptd. We will share the link once the portal to register is open in January 2021. Students will have until February 1, 2021 to upload all of their audition materials. Auditions begin, Wednesday, February 3, and are scheduled by art department and the first letter of your last name. Please be sure to review all requirements outlined below. Once you create a profile, and upload all of your materials, you will log-in the day of your audition and join us virtually!

In addition to the suggestions below on creating a studio in your own home, please note that you should be in a quiet and well-lit space, be sure that your computer or phone are fully charged and functioning properly. While we understand that many of you may be uncomfortable on camera, that is a requirement for all auditions. All virtual auditions just like in-person auditions are closed to parents/guardians, family members or peers. If there is anyone else in the room with you during your audition, you may be disqualified. If you leave during your audition, you may also be disqualified. If you have any questions or concerns regarding the above, please contact the Admissions Office at or call 202-631-3129.

What We Are Looking For

  • Passion – A student must have a desire for singing and the eagerness to learn the technical aspects of the art form. Students must be willing to adapt to a scientific and holistic (healthy vocal technique) approach to singing. Students must have a willingness to learn to sing in multiple languages and varying genres.
  • Vocal Potential – Students must have a clear ability to match pitch (good intonation and tonal memory), a good sense of rhythm and a suitable vocal range.
  • Performance Potential – Students must have a willingness to explore all possibilities of the art form through expression (taking chances) and vulnerability.
  • Academic Success – As Ellington is a college preparatory school we are looking for students who are able to be successful in their academics and arts classes.
  • A Cooperative Attitude – Students must be able to work well with others in and outside of class. One must be a dedicated student who practices and strives for excellence.
  • Endurance – Students must have the stamina to successfully manage the longer school day, which is 9+ hours in addition to daily homework, daily practice and performances.

What to Upload/How to Prepare

  1. To prepare for your virtual audition, memorize one piece from this list and present your piece a cappella (without instrumental accompaniment) on-camera, with clear volume and bright lighting, and in business casual attire.
    • Lift Every Voice and Sing (Entire 1st verse ending with “Til victory is won”)
    • The Star-Spangled Banner
    • America the Beautiful (Entire 1st verse ending with “From sea to shining sea”)
    • Climb Every Mountain
    • Amazing Grace (Entire 1st verse ending with “Blind but now I see”)
    • An Art song in English, Italian or German
  1. Upload a video file of you singing the memorized piece from above to the Acceptd Audition Platform by February 1, 2021. We encourage you submitting a pre-recorded piece so you can take your time, do as many takes as possible and submit the BEST version of yourself!
  2. The earlier you submit the more time our faculty have to review! Students who submit their video recordings early may be notified of their audition status early.
    • Acceptd supports a majority of file types. 
      • Video: MPEG, MPG, MP4, OGG, MOV, AVI, WMV, M4V, VOB, FLV
      • Audio: MP3, OGG, M4A, WMA, WAV, AAC, FLAC
      • Images: JPG, JPEG, PNG, GIF
  3. Students that do not upload their submissions by February 1, 2021 are still granted an opportunity to audition LIVE on Wednesday, February 3, 2021.

The LIVE Virtual Audition Process

During your virtual audition for the Vocal Music Department at DESA, you will:

  • Present a musical selection chosen from the list above sung a cappella (without instrumental accompaniment)
  • Be tested in aural skills via vocal exercises and pitch matching

Upon completion of the initial auditions, the Vocal Music faculty will select a group of students to continue the audition process by participating in a 3-day afternoon virtual vocal music callback class. Students are required to attend all days of the callback class in order to remain a candidate for the Vocal Music department. Students invited for callbacks will be notified by the Admissions Office.

Have a Successful Audition

To present yourself in the best light possible:

  • Dress professionally (business casual)
  • Say your name clearly and answer questions completely.
  • Prepare your piece well (make sure the piece is memorized) and sing with confidence
  • Be ready to talk about yourself, your past musical experiences and your goals for the future. Give these ideas some thought.


  • All departments offer Virtual Audition Workshops in December and January to help students prepare for their official audition. Students who participate will be able to learn what to bring, review the audition procedures, learn how to build a portfolio, present their work with confidence and prepare their work for the audition. Visit for more information and how to sign up – workshops cost $10. This fee can be waived for special circumstances, please email if you would like to request one.
  • Auditions begin the first week of February 2021 – immediately after the application deadline! Make sure to visit our website to review the audition schedule. Auditions are scheduled through the Acceptd Virtual Audition platform, for all students who successfully apply via MySchoolDC. You must view your audition date and time based on your art department and the first letter of your last name.


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