Q: What do you look for when you seek children who are musically gifted?
A: We look for many things, including accurate pitch, good rhythm, musical memory and engagement in music.
Q: My child hasn't had any formal musical training. Can we still apply?
A: For grades K–2, yes; one of our goals is to offer our training to every gifted child, regardless of prior training. For grades 3 and up, we ask every child to audition on an instrument. For grades 4 and up, applicants also take a theory placement test to ensure they can keep up with their returning peers.
Q: I don't live in school district 3; is my child eligible to apply for the school?
A: Yes. Any student living within the five boroughs of New York City is eligible.
Q: Does Special Music School have a high school?
A: Yes. Beginning in the fall of 2013, SMS will expand into the high school grades at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Educational Complex. Find out more about the new high school.
Q: If my child applied the previous year and did not get accepted, is his/her application valid for the following year?
A: Applications for Special Music School must be completed and filed for each year that the child auditions.
Q: Can you describe the assessment process?
A: Grades K–2: The first round of assessment features two different activities which take place on the same day. In small groups, children take a 25-minute music "class" in which they are asked to sing, clap and move to music. In addition, each child is given a short, one-on-one individual assessment. Children who score above a certain level on these two tests are called back for a lengthier individual assessment, after which they will be either accepted or not accepted to the school, or placed on a "delayed decision" list. Children on the "delayed decision" list may be asked to re-test toward the end of the assessment process. Children scoring below a certain level on the first round of tests will not be asked to continue. While we recognize that there are many factors that may affect a child's performance on a given day, and that children who are not recommended for advancement to the next level may be deeply talented, it is our policy not to re-test children at any level except in truly exceptional circumstances.
Grades 3 and up: Candidates for the upper grades will be asked to play 3 or 4 pieces on their instrument and to play scales and arpeggios. They will also be asked to take a written theory test, a short ear-training test involving singing and a short sight-singing test. Audition requirements vary according to the grade level, so feel free to contact us to discuss auditions.