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Vocal Music

2022 Audition Procedures – Vocal Music


All students must complete an audition profile on our virtual audition platform, Acceptd ( The portal to create your Virtual Audition Profile will open in December 2021. Students will have until February 1, 2022, to upload all their audition materials. Auditions begin in early February 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 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.

NOTE: Vocal Music will have entirely virtual auditions.

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 classical repertoire in multiple languages.
    • Our program is mainly focused on classical music with small opportunities for exploration in other 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/Artistic Success – As Ellington is a college preparatory school, we are looking for students who can be successful in their academic and art classes. As we are a dual curriculum program, students must understand the importance of dedicated time to both art and academic classes.
  • A Cooperative Attitude – Students must be able to work well with others in and outside of class. This includes students, faculty, and staff.
  • Endurance – Students must have the stamina and capacity to successfully manage the longer school day, which is 9+ hours in addition to daily homework, daily practice, and performances. One must be a dedicated student who practices regularly and strives for excellence.

What to Upload/How to Prepare

  1. To prepare for your virtual audition, memorize one piece from this list below and present your piece a cappella (without instrumental accompaniment) on-camera, with clear volume, bright lighting, and in business casual attire.
  2. Categories-Below are the acceptable song choices for auditions. The number represents the level of difficulty.
    1. There is no benefit in choosing a more difficult piece. The overall goal should be accuracy, musicality and expression in the piece chosen.
    2. Songs prepared that are NOT on the approved list will immediately disqualify the applicant.
  3. Upload a video file of you singing the memorized piece from above to the Acceptd Audition Platform by February 1, 2022. 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!
  4. 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.


Category #1 Beginner Category #2 Intermediate Category #3 Advanced
Amazing Grace
(Entire 1st verse ending with “Blind but now I see”)
Lift Every Voice and Sing
(Entire 1st verse ending with “Til victory is won”)
Star Spangled Banner
  America the Beautiful
(Entire 1st verse ending with “From sea to shining sea”)
Art song in English, Italian or German
  Climb Every Mountain  

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

RTFNOTE: Students that do not upload their submissions by February 1, 2022, are still granted an opportunity to audition LIVE on the first day of Vocal Music Virtual Auditions.  

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 approved list (sung a cappella)
  • 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 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 appropriately – look like a professional (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 & In-person 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 2022 – 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.
  • Please note that callbacks, shadow visits and family interviews may all be held in person if it’s possible to do so safely.