Kaufman Music Center

Special Music School High School

The opening of Special Music School High School is "a milestone in a growing national movement to re-evaluate how classical music is taught, and to what end."  - The Wall Street Journal

"Special Music School is moving music education into the 21st century with its high school expansion. How amazing for our society that at this high school students will develop their artistic voices through composition, improvisation and performance and be encouraged and challenged during such a pivotal time in their lives. The young musicians fortunate enough to attend Special Music School High School will become uniquely prepared to be our musicians of the future. This is truly news worth celebrating.”  
                                                                                                       - David Harrington, the Kronos Quartet

 

Read about the new high school in The Wall Street Journal.

Navigation:
1. About the School
2. Who can apply?
3. How to apply
4. Audition Dates and Repertoire
5. Open House Dates and Information Sessions
6. Important Dates
7. General FAQs
8. Vocalist FAQs
9. Instrumental FAQs
10. Composition FAQs

About the School:

In the fall of 2013, Kaufman Music Center’s Special Music School (P.S. 859) expanded into the high school grades at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Educational Complex on New York City’s Upper West Side, with a music curriculum that emphasizes the development of the student as a musician for the 21st century. With the establishment of the high school extension, Special Music School (SMS) is the city’s only K-12 school that teaches music as a core subject.

The school is unique even among New York’s highly regarded arts high schools in providing talented young musicians the opportunity to pursue serious, pre-professional music studies along with a rigorous academic curriculum. Open to SMS eighth grade graduates as well as students from all five boroughs of New York City, the high school admits 50 students per grade beginning with ninth grade in 2013-14 school year.

“Kaufman Music Center’s Special Music School High School will build on the success of the K-8 program and enhance the Center’s ability to provide an unparalleled music education for the next generation of musical leaders,” says Lydia Kontos, Kaufman Music Center’s Executive Director. “The high school also fills a need for a program that educates musicians for a new paradigm for careers in music.”

“The new high school will update the traditional model of classical music education in order to prepare students for the multifaceted and diverse opportunities available to today’s musicians,” says Jenny Undercofler, Special Music School Music Director. “At a time of rapid change in the professional music world, we are committed to putting our students on a professional music path that will answer the demands of 21st century music."

In addition to helping students build extremely strong core skills as music makers, Special Music School High School prepares them to improvise and compose as well as perform, understand music technology and collaborate with other musicians both in small and large groups while providing meaningful experience working with living composers.
 

Who can apply?

Special Music School High School accepts applications from any current 8th grade student who is, or will be, living in one of the five boroughs of New York City in September 2015. Additionally, any 9th or 10th grade students interested in transferring into the school and will be living in the five boroughs of New York City in September 2015 are also encouraged. 

PLEASE NOTE: An in-person audition is required as part of the audition process. For audition requirements or suggest repertoire, please click here. Certain instruments, such as violin, piano, cello, and flute, are exceptionally competitive. While we encourage all interested students to apply, we will undoubtedly have more applicants for these instruments than we can accept. In rare occurrences, applicants in highly-competitive pools with excellent grades and potential may be conditionally accepted to Special Music School High School on a different instrument. Outside of these occurrences, we do not accept beginning instrumentalist.

How to apply:

APPLICATION DEADLINE: November 1st, 2014

STEP ONE: Application

Option 1: Online Application (PREFERRED)
You can find and fill out an application to Special Music School High School here.

- OR -

Option 2 (hard copy). Application forms can be picked up from the front desk in Kaufman Center’s ground floor lobby (129 West 67th Street) or downloaded from here. Complete and return the application to the admissions office at the address below by November 1st, 2014.

Special Music School High School
Admissions Office
129 West 67th Street
New York, NY 10023

STEP TWO: Supporting Materials
1. Send in or drop off a copy of your 7th grade or current report card and standardized test scores. Documents can be emailed to hsadmissions@specialmusicschool.org or mailed to:

Special Music School High School
Admissions Office
129 West 67th Street
New York, NY 10023

2. Composition Majors ONLY: You are also required to submit a selection of music scores or recordings. For detailed instructions about audition requirements and process for Composition Majors, please click here.

STEP THREE: Letter of Recommendation

Request one letter of recommendation from the band, orchestra, or private music teacher who knows you best. The recommendation can be filled out by your teacher online,  or you can print it off here to be filled out by hand. If filled out by hand, the envelope must be sealed with the teacher’s signature over the seal. Be sure to write your name on the form before giving it to your teacher to fill out. Completed forms can be sent to:


Special Music School High School
Admissions Office
129 West 67th Street
New York, NY 10023


STEP FOUR: Audition

Once your completed application has been received, you will be notified of the time and date of your audition. More information on auditions can be found here.

AUDITION DATES AND REPERTOIRE:

All auditions will be held in the Martin Luther King Educational Complex at 122 Amsterdam Ave. Audition Dates for specific concentrations and instruments are listed below:

Vocal : November 17-21, 2014
Violin, Viola, Cello, and Bass: November 17-18, 2014
Winds and Brass: November 19-20, 2014
Piano: November 21, 24-25, 2014
Percussion, Guitar, Drum Set: November 24, 2014
Composition: November 25, 2014


Audition Repertoire:

Vocal:

It is suggested that you perform your audition from memory, however it is not a requirement to do so.

Students will be asked to vocalize and should bring in a Classical or Musical Theater song. For specific recommendations, please visit our FAQs

Based on your audition, you may be asked to sight sing, participate in a mini improvisation workshop, and take a music theory test. In addition, you may be asked to sing melodic patterns throughout your range.

Instrumental:

Required: A selection, or selections, totaling at least 3 minutes in length, plus a two-octave scale of your choice.

Based on your audition, you may be asked to sight sing, participate in a mini improvisation workshop, and take a music theory test.

Please note: Certain instruments, such as violin, piano, cello, and flute, are exceptionally competitive. While we encourage all interested students to apply, we will undoubtedly have more applicants for these instruments than we can accept. In rare occurrences, applicants in highly-competitive pools with excellent grades and potential may be conditionally accepted to Special Music School High School on a different instrument. Outside of these occurrences, we do not accept beginning instrumentalist.
String players and pianists are encouraged to play from memory.

Composition:

Composition majors should be prepared to submit scores and/or recordings of their original compositions, which will need to be received by November 1, 2014. Composition majors will be scheduled for an interview in which they will discuss their compositional interests, process, and aesthetic. Additionally, they may be asked to demonstrate skill on an instrument.

Based on your audition, you may be asked to sight sing, participate in a mini improvisation workshop, and take a music theory test.

How to submit you supplementary materials:

All scores, recordings, YouTube links, audio files, CDs, etc. must be received with your completed application, by November 1, 2014.

ELECTRONIC SUBMISSIONS:
SMSHS accepts electronic submissions of scores and recordings. Please send these items directly to hsadmissions@specialmusicschool.org.

SCORES: Composers must submit a minimum of two representative original compositions. You may submit up to four compositions if your pieces are very different from each other in style. One composition should be recent, written within 2013 or 2014. Scores may be handwritten or created using computer notation software. They must be legible and notated in the most complete and professional manner possible. Printouts or electronic submissions are acceptable. Send electronic submissions to: SMSHighSchool@kaufmanmusiccenter.org. Electronically submitted scores MUST be in PDF format. (We cannot accept computer files with .sib, .mus, .mscz, .xml, or similar (you must first convert these files to PDF). Noteflight files are accepted; please provide us with the link to your score and be sure you have shared it publicly first.

RECORDINGS: Audio and/or video submissions, one to accompany each score, are strongly encouraged, but not required. Computer-generated recordings (MIDI etc.) are accepted where recorded live performances are not available. Audio files MUST be in MP3 format. (Other formats, such as .wav and .aif, are not accepted.) If you prefer to upload videos to YouTube, you may submit the unlisted link rather than an emailed audio file. Submissions via upload to hsadmissions@specialmusicschool.org or YouTube are preferred. Submissions on CD are acceptable and may be sent to:

SMSHS Admissions
129 W. 67th Street
New York, NY 10023

NON-SCORED PIECES: If a piece was created without traditional music notation, e.g. electronic or improvisation-based pieces, you may submit something other than a score. For example, if your piece was created in Logic or Garageband, you may submit the original files (this is not the case for music notation files—see above). Or, for an improvised piece, you can submit a chord chart or similar. Please also submit an MP3 recording of these pieces per the instructions above.

We regret that we cannot return any materials by mail. However, you may pick up scores or CDs from Kaufman Music Center once the application process has been completed.

Open House Dates and Information Sessions:

Open Houses and Information Sessions are a good way to learn about what our school offers and ask any questions you may have about the audition process, the DOE high school selection process, or about the school specifically.


All Open Houses will be held at 6:00 PM in the school, located in the basement of the Martin Luther King Educational Complex, found at:

122 Amsterdam Ave.
New York, NY 10023

Open House Dates will be on:

• Tuesday October 21st
• Thursday October 23rd
• Tuesday October 28th

Important Dates

September 20-21: City-wide High School Fair, Brooklyn Tech
October 18-19: Borough High School Fair, Martin Luther King Educational Complex
October 21, 23, 28: Open House/Information Sessions
November 1: Application Due
November 17-21, 24-25: Auditions
December 2: Rankings due to High School Guidance Counselor, SMSHS Code: A85A
March: Results of Round 1
Late March: Deadline to Apply and Audition for students who did not match or were not happy with their matches

General FAQs:

Q: What is the mission of Special Music School High School?
A: The school is uniquely dedicated to providing talented young musicians the opportunity to pursue serious, pre-professional music studies along with a rigorous academic curriculum.  Our music curriculum emphasizes the development of the student as a musician for the 21st century,  View the curriculum: academics, music and graduation requirements.

Q: Why haven’t I heard of this high school before?
A: Special Music School High School is a new high school with its first class of 9th graders in fall 2013.

Q: Will you have any Information Sessions?
A: Yes, we have three Information Sessions scheduled: October 21, 23, and 28. They will all be held in room G52 at the Martin Luther King Educational Complex at 122 Amsterdam Avenue, between 65th and 66th.

Q: Where is the school?
A: The school will be located in the Martin Luther King Educational Complex at 122 Amsterdam Avenue in Manhattan—in the Lincoln Center neighborhood.

Q: How large will the high school be?
A: The high school will admit 50 students per grade, beginning with ninth grade, in the 2013-14 school year.  It will reach its full capacity of 200 students in the 2016-2017 school year.

Q: Who is eligible to apply?
A: Special Music School High School accepts applications from any current 8th grade student who is, or will be, living in one of the five boroughs of New York City in September 2015. Additionally, any 9th or 10th grade students interested in transferring into the school and will be living in the five boroughs of New York City in September 2015 are also encouraged.

Q: Do I need to know how to read music?
Yes, you must be able to read basic rhythmic and pitch notation. Exceptions may be made for outstanding applicants.

Q: How do I apply?
A: You must submit a Special Music School High School application, either online or as a hard copy, by November 1, 2014. Additionally, you should list SMSHS, code number A85A, on the DOE high school form. The DOE form, which lists all your high school choices, is submitted to your middle school’s guidance counselor.

Q: Where can I get an application?
A: You can fill out an online application (preferred) or find a printable version of the application here.

Q: Does an applicant need to have studied music for many years?
A: No, the school is designed to educate and nurture both highly accomplished high-school aged musicians and those who have only recently discovered their passion for music.

Q: Do I need to have a classical music background?
A: No, anyone with a strong love of music, in any style, is encouraged to apply.  However, most of our music instruction is steeped in Classical music traditions.

Q: What are the admissions criteria?
A: Acceptance to Special Music School High School is based on your application, audition and a review of your academic record.

Q: How would you describe the ideal Special Music School High School student?
A: Any instrumentalist, vocalist and/or composer, with some musical background, who is passionate about music, and who wants to be musically and academically challenged and who wants to make/study music on a daily basis.

Q: How many audition rounds will there be?
A: There will be one round of live auditions. Anyone interested in the school is encouraged to apply and schedule their audition. 

Q: How do I schedule a live audition?
A: You will be scheduled for a live audition once your application, teacher recommendation, and supplementary materials have been received.

Q: What do composers do for the live audition?
A: Composers are asked to submit their application with all the supporting musical material as specified in the application. They will be asked to come in and speak with our admissions panel for the live audition.

Q: What are you looking for in a live audition?
A: We are looking to determine your basic instrumental, vocal, and/or composing abilities.

Q: What will the audition consist of?
A: Qualified applicants will be asked to schedule a live audition. Based on the performance stage of their audition, qualified applicants will take a music theory test and will participate in a mini improvisation workshop. In addition: Vocalists and Instrumentalists may be asked to sightread.  Composers will meet with members of the audition panel to discuss their music, ideas and compositional processes.

Q: What instruments are acceptable for an audition?
A: You may audition on any standard classical or jazz instrument.

Q: Will you provide an instrument for the audition?
A: We will provide a piano, electric amp and drums—and a vibraphone (on request). All other instrumentalists, including harpists, must bring their own instrument.

Q: Will there be an accompanist?
A: No, we will not provide accompanists at the audition. Applicants may bring their own accompanist-any and all expenses for a personal accompanist are the sole responsibility of the applicant. Recorded, taped, karaoke, and/or “Music Minus One” accompaniments are not acceptable.

Q: May I audition for more than one concentration or for more than one instrument?
A: Yes, you may audition for one, two or three concentrations and/or on more than one instrument. If you are auditioning for more than one concentration (i.e. guitar and composition or voice, composition and bassoon), you must fill out separate applications for each concentration. If you are auditioning on two instruments (i.e. oboe and piano), fill out one instrumental application; please make note of your second instrument in the appropriate place on the application.

Q: What is Kaufman Music Center?
A: A national leader in the field of music education and one of New York City's most vibrant cultural organizations, Kaufman Music Center combines the finest in music education for all ages with world-class performance in the acoustically superior Merkin Concert Hall. Founded in 1952 as a community school for pre-conservatory music training, today's Kaufman Music Center is home to Merkin Concert Hall; Lucy Moses School, New York's largest community arts school; and Special Music School, New York's only K-12 public school for musically gifted children.

Vocal FAQs:

Q: I don’t read music, can I still apply?
A: Many vocalists have not studied music reading in-depth. While we prefer that you have at least a basic knowledge of musical notation, we will hear auditions from all applicants.

Q: What songs are considered “Classical” or “Musical Theater”?
A: Classical songs are either operatic arias or art songs. They can be in a variety of languages, including English. Examples are: “The Daisies” by Samuel Barber, any selection from “24 Italian Songs and Arias”, or a Schubert Lied.
Musical Theater selections are drawn from popular musicals. Both classics, such as “The Sound of Music” or “Kiss Me, Kate”, and modern musicals, such as “Wicked” or “Once”, are acceptable.

Q: I don’t know any classical or musical theater songs. Is there anything else I can sing?
A: Please sing one of the following selections:
The Water is Wide
Amazing Grace
Summertime
America the Beautiful
Happy Birthday to You

Q: I’m not sure what my voice type is, what should I put?
A: If you have previously sung in choir, you may write you choral vocal range. If you have no experience with either classical or choral singing, please right “Unsure”.

Q: Can I sing a pop song?
A: No. Please sing something from the classical repertoire or from the list above.

Q: Should I bring music to my audition?
A: Yes. Please bring two (2) copies for the panel.

Q: Should my music be memorized?
A: For vocalists, it is recommended, but not required.

Q: Am I required to use an accompanist for an audition?
A: No, you may audition without any accompaniment.

Q: Will there be an accompanist?
A: No, we will not be providing accompanist at the audition.

Q: May I use my own accompanist?
A: Yes, you may bring your own accompanist to your audition; however, all arrangements and costs are your responsibility.

Q: May I audition for more than one concentration?
A: Yes, you may. But you will need to fill out the appropriate application.

Instrumental FAQs

Q: Does an applicant need to have studied their instrument for many years?
A: No, the school is designed to educate and nurture both highly accomplished high-school aged musicians and those who have only recently discovered their passion for music.

Q: Do I need to know how to read music?
A: Yes, you must be able to read basic rhythmic and pitch notation.

Q: Do I have to have a classical music background to apply?
A: No, applicants who are passionate about any style of music are encouraged to apply.

Q: What is the format of an instrumental audition?
A: All auditions are live auditions. Please bring a copy of your music to your audition.

Q: What do I need to prepare for my audition?
A: You must prepare a selection, or selections, totaling at least 3 minutes in length, plus a two-octave scale of your choice.

Q: Is there specific music that I have to audition with?
A: No, there is no specific music that you must play, however, we do have a sample repertoire list here. 

Q: Am I required to use an accompanist for an audition?
A: No, you may audition without any accompaniment.

Q: Will there be an accompanist?
A: No, we will not be providing accompanist at the audition.

Q: May I use my own accompanist?
A: Yes, you may bring your own accompanist to your audition; however, all arrangements and costs are your responsibility.

Q: Is it a requirement to perform from memory in the audition?
A: No, you are not required to perform your audition from memory, but it is encouraged for strings and piano.

Q: Will I have time to warm up at the audition?
A: You should come warmed up as we cannot guarantee the timing or availability of warm-up rooms. In addition, you should arrive at least 15 minutes prior to your audition time.

Q: May I audition for more than one concentration or instrument?
A: Yes, you may audition for one, two, or three concentrations or on more than one instrument. If you are auditioning for more than one concentration (e.g., guitar and composition), you must fill out two separate applications. If you are auditioning on two instruments (e.g., oboe and piano), you do not need to fill out multiple applications, but you do need to make note of your second instrument in the appropriate place on the application.

Composition FAQs

Q: Does a composition applicant need to have been composing for many years?
A: No, the school is designed to educate and nurture both highly accomplished high-school aged musicians and those who have only recently discovered their passion for music.

Q: Do I need to know how to use music notation programs to apply?
A: No, but you must be able to write basic music notation. Admitted applicants will be encouraged to learn and use music notation software such as Finale, Sibelius, or Noteflight.

Q: Do I have to have a classical music background and/or compose ‘classical’ music only to apply?
A: No, you do not need to be classically trained. We invite applicants who are passionate about any style of music to apply.

Q: What is the format of a composition audition?
A: There is an initial screening and a live audition. All composition initial screening are by submission of your application, scores, recordings, etc.  All composition live auditions will be in person.

Q: Can I submit my piece if I don’t have a written musical score for it?
A: Yes, you can. Depending on the nature of the piece and how you created it, we’d like some indication of how you made the piece. The application discusses what to do in more detail. Please read the “HOW TO SUBMIT MATERIALS” guidelines here. (hyper)

Q: How do I submit scores and recordings? 
A: Please carefully read the “HOW TO SUBMIT MATERIALS” guidelines here. (hyper) Materials submitted incorrectly will not be reviewed!

Q: What are you looking for in a live audition?
A: It is important to us to meet you and learn a bit about how you think about the creative task of composition. We value composers with broad intellectual curiosity, a strong creative voice, flexible creative problem-solving skills, enthusiasm, and an ability to work collaboratively.

Q: What is the format for the live audition?
A: The live audition will include a short interview in which we will talk with you about the music you submitted. Based on your short interview, you may be asked to take a music theory test and participate in a mini improvisation workshop.

Special Music School

K-8 MAIN OFFICE:
Tel: 212 501 3318
smsa@kaufmanmusiccenter.org
K-8 ADMISSIONS:
Tel: 212 501 3390
smsa@kaufmanmusiccenter.org

HIGH SCHOOL ADMISSIONS:
Tel: 212 501 3395
SMSHighSchool@kaufmanmusiccenter.org

New York's Creative Home for Listeners, Learners and Performers

KAUFMAN MUSIC CENTER • Goodman House • 129 West 67th Street • New York, NY 10023 • (212) 501-3330