Mentoring for your college auditions | The MT Project

There’s just something about being on stage that I can’t really describe. It’s almost like being transported to this magical place where nothing else in the whole world matters. You know when you see something or hear something, and it just feels like perfection? It’s like that.

All I know is that I want to do this for the rest of my life.

There’s just something about being on stage that I can’t really describe. It’s almost like being transported to this magical place where nothing else in the whole world matters. You know when you see something or hear something, and it just feels like perfection? It’s like that.

All I know is that I want to do this for the rest of my life.

There’s just something about being on stage that I can’t really describe. It’s almost like being transported to this magical place where nothing else in the whole world matters. You know when you see something or hear something, and it just feels like perfection? It’s like that.

All I know is that I want to do this for the rest of my life.

Whatever your goal may be, it’s our mission to ensure that you achieve it.

And with us, advice is always free.

NYU Steinhardt

Your name: Peyton Bias

School you attend: New York University

Major and degree type: Vocal Performance/ Music Theatre, BM

Expected graduation date: 2018

What initially drew you to your school? What made it your final choice?: Initially, I applied to NYU Steinhardt because I knew their program in particular looks for singers with a strong classical voice background. However, I fell in love with the program after my acceptance. I realized that the blend of classical and contemporary technique was a great fit for my needs as a vocalist and the opportunities that the program allows for are phenomenal. Its flexibility allows me to explore all aspects of theatre, as well as be exposed to the professional level while still in training.

What was your audition experience like with this school? Was it different than other schools you auditioned for?: This audition was a little different in that it was more like a professional audition. There was no information session or even current students present and the whole process took about 15 minutes. Check in, audition, and I was out the door.

What do you feel your program’ s strengths are?: Aside from our obvious strength in voice, our program is very strong in never-touched material. Learning how to conquer constant script and music changes on the fly is something NYU definitely prepares us for and it is a great skill to have in the industry.

What do you like best about the faculty?: The faculty is very diverse, and they come from a variety of backgrounds, ranging from long opera careers, to Tony-nominated performances and more. Having that variety of experiences to learn and draw from is very unique to Steinhardt and it’s very interesting to hear so many different opinions. However, they all have a common goal- the success and health of their students. Every program wants their students to succeed but Steinhardt especially wants us to do so in a healthy manner. This is stressed to us, and it’s something I’ve found very comforting, knowing I will never be putting myself in danger at school.

What is your campus like?: NYU’s campus is very unique. They like to use the term “in and of the city” and although it’s a little corny, it’s really pretty accurate. Our “main campus” is centered around Washington Square Park, and the residence halls are all within 15 minutes walking distance. But because our campus’ boundaries aren’t defined, NYU really feels like it is part of the city.

Do you feel your program places any particular emphasis on acting, dancing or singing, or is each area completely equal?: Singing most definitely. It is a Vocal Performance program. However, I will say I was skeptical of our acting training before I came to NYU and it is really very comprehensive.

What types of techniques do you study?: We are required to take two years of piano and a range of acting and dance styles.

What are the performance opportunities at your school?: The great thing about being at such a diverse and large-scale university within the context of Manhattan is that the performance opportunities are boundless. Within the program, we do approximately 7 shows a year. Two of these are full-scale musicals, 1 is a full-scale opera. There are four “a la carte” shows that entail a two week rehearsal period, and 3 performances in a smaller venue. Because of our strong training in aural comprehension and sight-singing, our grads are often desirable to work on new material. Steinhardt capitalizes on this with performances of new material, such as “4@15”. “4@15” is a night of four 15-minute musicals never before performed. The students cast in “4@15” have two weeks to put the show on its feet with changes constantly being thrown their way. We also have a “new work” every year- a musical that has never been staged that we rehearse for approximately a month. It is fully produced and changes are made often, preparing us for the reality of new musical theatre. Last year’s production was Beatsville and the entire ending was scrapped and replaced within 36 hours of opening night. I really appreciate the opportunity as a performer to learn to adapt quickly.
Outside of the program, NYU has several prominent student-run production groups that mount productions ranging from TYA shows to staged readings, to large-scale productions. The film program also auditions frequently for directing scenes and various projects- there is always something going on. It is great experience, even if you aren’t cast in anything. It gets you in the habit of constantly going to auditions.
 Being in the city obviously has its advantages as well. We are always encouraged to go to professional auditions by the program (as long as they don’t interfere with class) and many of our faculty are still working in the business. Thus sometimes opportunities present themselves through them- some of my classmates have performed at 54 Below, Paper Mill Playhouse, and in other professional productions around the city due to faculty connections.

What are your tech requirements as a student?: We’re required to fufill 4 tech credits by the time we graduate. Working on crew for a mainstage counts for 2 credits and ASMing a mainstage covers all 4.

Does your school encourage arts related work outside of your program? If so, do they have someone to help you coordinate this work?: Steinhardt absolutely encourages work outside the program, particularly summer work. We have an entire program meeting devoted to it every fall. The TriArts Sharon Playhouse auditions for their summer season on campus yearly, and many students work at other summer stock theatres during their summer breaks. In addition, study abroad is highly encouraged both within our program and in NYU as a whole. NYU is a “global network university” with 11 global centers worldwide and study abroad locations on 6 continents. The vocal performance study-abroad locations are limited to Prague and Paris, but you can always take a January term or a summer study-abroad to any of the locations and get general education credit. Some of my classmates have already been abroad through NYU, in Paris, Athens, Florence, and even Shanghai.

How many men and how many women are in your class? Is this typical of other current classes in your program?: Currently,we have 10 boys and 11 girls in my Music Theatre class. It is a pretty standard size for our program.

Does your program have a cut or promotion system?: Steinhardt does not have a cut or promotion program. We have yearly juries, but they hold no bearing on your place in the program- they just asses your progress.

Are you aware of anyone who has been offered professional work while studying? Were they encouraged to leave or stay? Is their spot in the program held?: I am aware of two cases of this- one is that of Jay Armstrong Johnson (who is currently starring in On the Town on Broadway) and the other is one of our newly graduated class- Jarrad Green, who took a year off in 2014 to star as Tony in the national tour of West Side Story. Both of them were encouraged to take their opportunities and return to school the following year. Jay’s career took off, and thus he never returned to finish his degree, but Jarrad did and his spot was held. What has always been communicated to us is that education is most important, unless the opportunity you’ve been presented is a very big one.

Does your program do a senior showcase? What cities do you showcase in? Is every student invited to perform?: Our program does a senior showcase held at New World Stages in New York City. Every student is not only invited but actually required to perform.

How many classes do you take based in the arts? How many gen eds?: Last year I had 26 classes total (36 credit hours) and of those 26, two were gen eds. Our program is very arts-centric, especially in the first two years when we’re expected to complete our music core. In the upper years you have a little more leniency- I would say it’s about an 80% arts 20% gen-ed split overall.

Please share your class schedule with descriptions of /what you find valuable about your classes: My weekly schedule for the upcoming semester is:

Mondays & Wednesdays-
8am- 9:15- Music Theory III
9:20a-10:35- German Diction for Singers- Although language courses aren’t traditionally found in music theatre programs, I find these courses both interesting and potentially useful. They utilizes the International Phonetic Alphabet, and allow you to hone in on singing in foreign languages and sounding “native”. They look great on a resume, especially if you were to find yourself audition for the German tour of Phantom or Wicked! We’re required to take four diction classes- Italian, German, French and of course, English.
10:40a-11:55- Modern Dance
~Lunch & Study Break~
3:30p-4:45p- American Sign Language- This is my gen ed for the semester and I decided to get a head start on my language requirement while exploring the possibility of ASL as a minor.

Tuesdays & Thursdays-
9:20a-11:50a- Song Analysis- I am so excited to finally have this course in my schedule. It focuses on individual songs, taking apart your characterization of the piece and helping you its story in a standalone song (or cut). This skill is vital in auditions, and it’s a major fundamental of our program. The techniques learned here carry on throughout the years in the program and, of course, into your professional career.
12:00p-2:05p- Acting I- Acting I is based primarily in Meisner technique, although there are elements of Alexander and other acting techniques involved. Monologues, scene work, improvisation, and movement are all involved.
~Lunch & Study Break~
3:30-4:45- American Sign Language
4:55-6:10p- Aural Comprehension III

Fridays– (yes, class on Fridays!)
9:30a-11:35a- Music Theatre History I- This is a year long course extensively covering the history of musical theatre. We’re also required to take two years of general music history- covering ancient to modern music in-depth.
11:50a-1:05p- Program Meeting- This weekly meeting is very unique to our program, and I think it is a great tool. The entire Vocal Performance program is required to attend, and every Friday has a different agenda, emailed to us the day before. Sometimes we have masterclasses with industry professionals, sometimes specified discussions with faculty(regarding summer stock, audition skills, etc.) and lots of times performances from classes like Song Analysis, Music Theatre Repetoire, etc. Last year, a couple of my favorite program meetings included a dance masterclass with Jennifer Werner (Associate Director & Dance Captain of the Broadway production of T he Book of Mormon ) and a contemporary vocalism masterclass with Dr. Brian Gill and Professor Dianna Heldman (which I was fortunate enough to perform and be coached in!)
~Lunch & Practice Break~

2:30-3:30- Voice Lesson- I currently study with Matthew Shepard-Smith, and our weekly voice lessons are always incredible. Steinhardt puts a lot of focus on breathing as the foundation of singing, which has opened so many doors for me already.
4:00-4:50- Keyboard Skills III

Feel free to share anything else about your program that you think is relevant for us to know, or what makes it great!: The most frequent question I am asked about NYU is the difference between Tisch & Steinhardt. At Tisch, their program is a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Acting w/ Musical Theatre Emphasis. Steinhardt awards a Bachelor of Music in Vocal Performance w/ Music Theatre Emphasis. Consequentially, Tisch has a very heavy emphasis on acting technique while Steinhardt heavily emphasizes vocal training. Both programs have phenomenal training, and it really is about what you want as the student and what your strengths and weaknesses are. I would also discourage thinking of Tisch as the “contemporary” school and Steinhardt as the “classical” school. While Steinhardt does most certainly encourage healthy training, it is about vocal health and NOT about vocal style. I have yet to see a student graduate from Steinhardt that did not have strong contemporary training. It is there, and we do use it-we are just taught to do so safely.

Would students interested in your program be free to contact you?:

Peyton Bias

Peyton Bias

NYU Steinhardt Vocal Performance w/MT Emphasis '18

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