Voice & Opera Program Information

Vocal Solo Class

Students registered for voice lessons must also concurrently register for VOICE 311 Vocal Solo Class in the same section as their studio teacher. All students (except 1st Years) are required to perform twice during each school year; 1st Years only once. Students will be sent their scheduled performance date(s) prior to each quarter. Students are expected to attend all classes. Up to two excused absences are allowed per quarter. A request for an excused absence must be emailed to Professor W. Stephen Smith, faculty of record for the Vocal Solo Class, prior to the absence. Grades of [S] Satisfactory or [U] Unsatisfactory will be given by the studio teacher based on attendance, fulfilling the class performance requirement, and required attendance and/or participation in the Tichio-Finnie Master Class Series. In exceptional circumstances, students may petition the coordinator of voice and opera to be excused from attending Vocal Solo Class due to a conflict with a required course for another major. To be excused for a given quarter, students must complete the form below, obtain indicated signatures, and return it to the Office of Student Affairs.

Vocal Solo Class Conflict Request Form


Bienen School of Music opera productions are cast by audition. Students chosen for a role or a chorus part are asked to sign an agreement to state their acceptance. Opera rehearsals and preparation can be very time consuming. Before committing, students need to communicate any possible conflicts for rehearsals or performances and check with the Director of Opera if their participation in the opera will be possible.


Voice students perform for the faculty two times each year in either a new student hearing, voice jury, or recital permission. The voice jury must include no fewer than three members of the voice faculty, including the student's teacher. In the case of a Junior Standing Jury, a make-up, or a rehearing, the jury must be heard by at least 4 voice faculty including the studio teacher of the student and 3 others.

The sophomore year winter quarter jury determines whether the student qualifies for junior standing, 300-level VOICE. Students must present six selections for the jury. In cases where faculty determine a student should not continue to 300-level instruction, faculty comments will be submitted to support the consensus vote of the faculty present. The coordinator of voice and opera will contact the student with the results of the consensus following the jury.

Students who do not pass on to 300-level may request a re-hearing in which they may present the same six selections from their first jury, other selections, or a combination of both. The faculty will evaluate the re-hearing and a vote will follow. Only one re-hearing for junior standing will be allowed. Students who are denied upper-class performance major standing at their jury should discuss plans for another major with the Assistant Dean for Student Affairs.

Repertoire Requirements for Voice Juries

First Years
3 selections (Winter Jury)
3 selections (Fall Jury)
Sophomores (Junior Standing)
Sophomores auditioning for junior standing: 6 selections in at least 3 foreign languages; Sophomores NOT auditioning for junior standing: 3 selections (Winter Jury)
3 selections (Winter Jury)
3 selections (Fall Jury)

Jury Procedures

  1. Sign-ups are posted electronically in advance of juries. Students will receive an email with information about jury sign-ups. Students must secure the services of a pianist before signing up for a time.
  2. Prior to the jury, a Jury Form must be downloaded from Canvas, completed and uploaded to Canvas. Following the jury, faculty comments will be available on Canvas for the student’s perusal.
  3. At the discretion of the studio teacher, a student may be excused from presenting a jury during the quarter in which the student has performed or will perform a solo recital or a role in a Northwestern Opera Theater production. A student may not be excused from the junior standing jury.
  4. A student may ask to postpone his/her jury because of illness or other emergencies. It is understood that the student will receive an incomplete grade for voice lessons from his/her studio teacher for that quarter until the jury is made up the following quarter.

Jury Examination Make-up

A student who is unable to sing during the jury at the end of the quarter must make up the jury. The make-up jury must take place within the next quarter in which the student registers for applied voice. Make-up juries must be scheduled with the coordinator. Make-up juries will be heard on Mondays at 12:00pm during the regular voice faculty meeting. In the event a student cannot sing during that hour, the studio teacher will arrange for a make-up jury to be held at an alternate time. All voice faculty must be invited and at least 3 Voice Faculty must hear the make-up jury including the studio teacher of the student and 2 others. In the case of a Junior Standing Jury, a make-up or a rehearing, the jury must be heard by at least 4 voice faculty including the studio teacher of the student and 3 others.

Voice Student Recitals

  • One full-length (45-60 minutes of music) required for undergraduates during the senior year
  • One full-length (45-60 minutes of music) required for graduates during the second year of MM study
  • One full-length (45-60 minutes of music) required for those undergraduates pursuing the Vocal Honors (completed prior to the required senior year recital); program notes are required (hard or digital copies) for Vocal Honors recitals
  • Students presenting a recital must register for VOICE 380 (Undergraduates) or VOICE 480 (Graduates), 0 credit, the quarter of the scheduled recital
  • Repertoire:
    • Selections must include at least 3 languages and a variety of styles. 
    • All repertoire must be performed from memory. Exceptions are made by the faculty of record for oratorio, cantata, or chamber music performed with multiple instruments and/or musicians. This repertoire may not exceed more than 50% of the total recital time, and it should be noted at the time of the recital permission that the remaining repertoire must be 100% memorized. 
    • Requests for repertoire exceptions must be approved by the faculty of record followed by a request through the Coordinator of Voice for further approval of the voice faculty.
  • Recital Scheduling: concert venues reservation are scheduled through the Concert Management Office. Read and follow the procedures outlined on the Student Recital Scheduling webpage to reserve a concert venue.
  • Recital Programs: all spellings, including all diacritical markings (i.e., accents and umlauts, etc.) and information in the program (names, pianists, musicians) must be accurate.

Recital Permission Timeline

  • At earliest opportunity, schedule recital with the Concert Management Office (coordinate with teacher and pianist, and any others involved).
  • Carefully select repertoire.
  • 8-12 weeks prior to recital, prepare repertoire with pianist.
  • 8 weeks prior to recital, schedule recital permission with Coordinator.
  • 6-8 weeks prior to recital, sing entire program for studio teacher.
  • 4-8 weeks prior to recital, perform for and receive recital permission from voice faculty.
    • Provide 7 paper copies of your recital program including date, time, name of the pianist and any other collaborative artists, location of the recital, accurate spellings (including accents and umlauts), and accurate timings of each selection. See templates below.
  • Students completing the Vocal Honors Program must include program notes for their recitals.
  • Students not pursuing the Vocal Honors Program must be prepared with at least 75% of their music memorized with representation from each of the recital sections. Individual studio policies and/or preparation requirements for those pursuing the Vocal Honors Program requiring more than 75% memorized take precedence over this requirement. However, the Vocal Honors Program requires that recital permissions be 100% memorized.

Template for Recital Permission (PDF)  Template for Recital Permission (Word)

Undergraduate Vocal Honors Program

With the permission of the student’s voice teacher,  students must notify the faculty supervisor of their intent to participate in the Vocal Honors Program. This request will be approved by the Assistant Dean for Student Affairs.

Student progress will be tracked by the faculty supervisor through Canvas. It is the responsibility of the individual student to upload to the Bienen School Canvas site all documents that demonstrate completion of each requirement, and to stay in contact with the faculty supervisor regarding the Vocal Honors requirements being completed and recorded.

Students will graduate in the Honors Program only if all categories listed in the checklist below are satisfactorily completed and verified by the faculty supervisor.

Outreach Projects

Outreach projects should involve using your musical talents to enrich, educate, inspire and/or uplift others outside of your academic circle. Some ideas might include performing a recital for a retirement facility, volunteering to teach music to children, or offering a presentation to a community group. We encourage your ingenuity in designing your project.

Vocal Honors Program Checklist