Research all NYC schools

Research Now

Making a Self-Tape the Right Way for Performing Arts High Schools

October 16, 2020 Halina de Jong-Lambert

The idea of showing all of your talent and promise to a prospective performing arts high school through a recording is a nerve-wracking one. But due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this is what the reality may look like for this year’s eighth-grade applicants. A self-taped audition does not have to be a scary thought; with the right environment and the advantage of being able to re-record to get the best performance or presentation, you can send in a tape that shows off the best of your ability.

Your environment is essential to a successful video recording. You want to record against a blank wall, any color, that will not distract from your audition (no glaring neon walls). For a song or monologue performance, you should be able to be seen from the knees up, with 2-5 inches of space above your head. For all sitting auditions such as presenting art pieces or playing an instrument, the entirety of the instrument or artwork should be in view. You should be seen at least from the torso up but again only 2-5 inches of space above your head. The performer should be dead center, not too far back that their face is not clear, but with enough space around the performer that the performer does not fill up the whole screen. 

For a dance recording, you want to give yourself room, enough room that no part of you is ever off-camera, and the camera should stay in a fixed place the entirety of the recorded audition (no panning). Audio quality is also important because even if you aren’t singing, you will have to talk at some point in your recording. The sound should be clear, and there cannot be background noise, so if your home is always loud, then reach out to someone with a quieter environment for space and time there to record. 

This may seem extreme, but you should take every measure to ensure your sound is the best it can be, especially for a song. For an accompaniment track or music the performer is dancing to, the audio should not come from the computer but preferably another device, ideally speakers. A singer will want to take multiple recordings with different audio levels to hear which volume level leaves the singer’s voice clear and audible and the accompaniment not too faint.

It is also crucial to stick to the guidelines given for the audition. Your monologues must be exactly what they ask for, your performance the exact length they ask, and so on. Especially in an admissions season with only (or mostly) virtual auditions, not following the directions for audition material is an easy way for schools to slim down the applicant pool.

Most importantly, keep a cool head. If you are getting stressed about your recordings, don’t be. All you need to do is know your material and present it the best you can for your situation. Take breaks as you record, and don’t wind yourself up because you want to present as calm and confident in your introduction. The people judging your audition want you to do well, just as they want you to do well when you perform live. Good luck!

Halina de Jong-Lambert is a sophomore at Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School for Music Art and Performing Arts in New York City. She is an acting major at the school, enjoys Stephen King Novels, and is a fan of Oscar Wilde.

Join to

Join today and have a high school mentor guide your child through their middle school years

Join Now

Other articles

  • img

    Study Tips To Conquer Tests

    • May 17, 2022
    • Paris William Polatidis

    Have you ever studied really hard for a quiz or a test, but drew a blank when you sat down to take it? I am sure this has happened to almost everyone at some point, and it can be very frustrating and discouraging. It can be easy to blame failing a test on not studying for it, however, it can be hard to diagnose why one may be struggling if they are working hard. If you frequently face this problem, please understand that you’re not alone and that there are many strategies you can input into your study time that will allow you to achieve greater success.

    Read More

  • img

    How To Crush The SHSAT

    • May 06, 2022
    • Paris William Polatidis '23

    The SHSAT is a grueling three hour exam out of 800 points that tests students grammar, reading comprehension, and math skills. The eight specialized high schools (besides LaGuardia high school), only look at student’s SHSAT scores and do not factor in grades or extracurriculars. Therefore, if you want to attend a specialized high school, you must excel on this exam.

    Read More

  • img

    How To Avoid Procrastination and Stay Ahead of Your Work

    • March 06, 2022
    • Paris Polatidis ‘23

    We’ve all had that guilty feeling when we put off work for too long. Whether it's Youtube, a sport’s game, or speaking with friends, homework can often be thrust to the side. Procrastination can be a silent killer: it increases stress, wastes time, and lowers grades. Fighting procrastination takes an immense amount of effort and hard work. However, the tips outlined below should help jumpstart your journey towards productivity.

    Read More

  • img

    How to Join a Sports Team! Updated for 2021

    • May 19, 2021
    • Oliwia Caes

    One of the best ways to stay active and get more involved in the school setting is to join a sports team! Being on a sports team has numerous benefits. It gives you extracurricular activities to build your profile, the ability to create friendships through spending time with a group, and a chance to simply relax and unwind after a full day in the classroom.

    Read More