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High School Admissions

Auditions - Thu, Dec 6, 4 pm

Special Music School High School will hold open call auditions on Thu, Dec 6. Those interested in auditioning for 2019-20 school year should arrive at the Martin Luther King Educational Complex (Amsterdam Ave btw 65th & 66th Streets) by 4 pm.

How to apply

Welcome to the Special Music School High School application process! In addition to providing your academic record, you will audition before a group of high school faculty members.

Special Music School High School Audition Registration Form, 2018-19.
By completing the form above, you notify the SMS High School Admissions Office of your interest in auditioning for a spot at the school. The form takes about 10-15 minutes to complete. Once you have filled out the form, you will receive confirmation from the Admissions Office and you will be offered a spot at an audition held in November (as long as your application is complete and there is availability).

Open House

Fall 2019 Open House dates will be announced later in the school year.
The Nov 8 SMS High School Open House has been cancelled.


Audition dates for the 2019-20 School Year
Tue, Nov 6 (Election Day) - day-long auditions
Wed, Nov 7 - afternoon & evening auditions
Mon, Nov 12 (Veterans' Day) -  day-long auditions
Tue, Nov 13 - afternoon & evening auditions
Wed, Nov 14 - afternoon & evening auditions

SMS High School’s music program  is rooted in the classical tradition, its performance and its composition. Students wishing to audition may sign up to audition in the 3 Concentrations that organize the students:

  • Vocal Concentration – for singers
  • Composition Concentration – for those interested in composing
  • Instrumental Concentration – for those that play an instrument. SMS teaches students in the instrumental program on the following instruments: piano, violin, viola, cello, double bass, guitar, flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon, saxophones trumpet, French horn, trombone, euphonium/baritone, tuba and percussion.

The audition is comprised of:

  •  An audition before a group of SMS High School faculty members. Students prepare one or two pieces that best demonstrate their skills and abilities. If two pieces are performed, they should be contrasting (in time period, tempo, etc.). 
  • During the audition, all instrumental applicants will also be asked to sight read a short excerpt. You will be given a few moments to review the excerpt, and then to play it.
  • A 20-minute written music theory exam
  • A 20-minute class in improvisation, guided and assessed by SMS High School faculty.

The application process continues as students and families, with assistance from their Middle School Guidance Counselor, determine how they will rank the schools that interest them the most. Student rankings must be submitted on or before December 3, 2018. To learn more about the NYC DOE process for 8th graders to select a High School, Please visit the DOE web site.

Audition Requirements

We ask all students to prepare 1 or 2 pieces that best reflect their current playing ability. Some suggested repertoire includes:

Instrumental Music
Ensemble music is acceptable for the audition, but solo pieces are preferred. A few examples of the types of solo pieces that are considered acceptable are: wind, brass, percussion, string, guitar, and piano concertos, sonatas, suites, character pieces, solo works. Solo piano works can include fugues, inventions, suites, barcarolle, etudes, preludes, and dance forms (mazurkas, polonaises, etc.) Students may also be asked to perform 1 or 2 scales and perform a short sight reading excerpt. 

Vocal Music
Singers should perform classical arias, art songs, cantatas, etc. and/or traditional musical theater songs. Singers will also be asked to participate in vocalizing and pitch matching exercises. 

Composers should compile a portfolio or list of scores/pieces they have worked on recently and would like to present at their audition. Audio or video recordings are encouraged.