These frequently asked questions relate to the both the Songbook Academy application process and the Academy week here in Carmel, Indiana.  Whether you are a first-time applicant, or a member of this year's Top 40 finalists, we've covered everything you might be wondering at this stage in the process!


Application Process

Who can apply?
The Songbook Academy® is open to individuals between 14 and 18 years old as of January 1, 2020, who are enrolled in high school (or home school) grades 9-12 and are U.S. legal residents residing in the United States. Applicants may be required to provide proof of date of birth, high school enrollment and residency, upon request.

When is the application due?
2020 applications are now closed. Look for an announcement for the Songbook Academy's 2021 applications in late fall.

When will I know if I am selected?
All applicants will be notified via email or Acceptd on April 22, 2020.

What does the program fee cover?

The value of the weeklong Academy experience is estimated to be $3,200.00 per student. The program fee of $900.00 helps to offset these program costs. The remaining costs are underwritten by the generous donations of our supporters and sponsors.

The Program Fee includes:

• Supervised dormitory-style accommodations (single room/double occupancy) in a Butler University residence hall; 
• All meals on and off-campus; 
• Commercial transportation for the week; and
• All workshops, master classes, mentor sessions and social activities throughout the Academy Week.

The Program Fee does not include travel expenses to and from Carmel, Indiana, for the Academy Week.

What kind of Financial Assistance is available?
Eligible participants will have the opportunity to apply for financial assistance for the Program Fee once they have been accepted into the Songbook Academy. The number of scholarships available will be determined by the amount of scholarship funding that has been donated to the Songbook Academy. Our goal is to help as many students as possible. We cannot, however, guarantee financial aid for all applicants. 

Financial assistance is need-based and applicants must participate in the Federal or any government free or reduced meal program at their school in order to be considered. Once students are accepted into the Songbook Academy, they may request financial aid by emailing us at SongbookAcademy@theSongbook.org. The student will then be required to submit a letter from a school counselor or teacher. 

Current scholarships made possible by The Francine A. LeFrak Leadership Fund and The Peggy Ford Scholarship.

How should I submit my audition songs?
Audition videos will be accepted via the Acceptd application platform. You will submit performances of two contrasting songs from the Great American Songbook. See our Program Guidelines for submission details.

May I sing with a track for my audition?
It is preferred that the audition songs be performed with minimal accompaniment (piano, guitar, etc.). However, tracks will be allowed for the audition. Please note: if selected you must bring music/lead sheets for your songs in the appropriate key. Accompaniment tracks will not be used during the Academy Week.

Videos of live performances may also be submitted for your audition.

Who screens/judges the applications?
Applications and Final Performances will be judged by a panel of qualified judges comprised of music industry professionals and educators, and will be judged based upon the following equally-weighted criteria: (i) intonation; (ii) tone quality; (iii) rhythm; (iv) song interpretation; and (v) presentation. ALL applicants will receive written feedback on their submissions from the judges.

What is the Great American Songbook?
The “Great American Songbook”, sometimes referred to as “American Standards”, is the uniquely American collection of popular music from Broadway and Hollywood musicals, and the Tin Pan Alley era, prevalent from the 1920s to 1960s. It is not an actual book, but refers to a specific era of American music. A brief list of just some of the appropriate songwriters:

Harold Arlen, Irving Berlin, Johnny Burke, Sammy Cahn, Hoagy Carmichael, Vernon Duke, Duke Ellington, Gus Kahn, George and Ira Gershwin, Jerome Kern, Burton Lane, Frank Loesser, Lerner and Loewe, Hugh Martin, Johnny Mercer, Cole Porter, Rodgers and Hart, Rodgers and Hammerstein, Arthur Schwartz, Jule Styne, Jimmy Van Heusen, Fats Waller, Harry Warren, Vincent Youmans, and many more

Please note: there are many composers and songwriters from which to choose. Here are resources to assist you:

What kind of songs should I choose?
You should submit two contrasting songs from the Great American Songbook repertoire - written no later than the 1960s. It is important to prepare contrasting songs in order to demonstrate your vocal, physical and/or emotional range as a performer. Please select age-appropriate material.

Click here for insights about selecting repertoire from Songbook Academy mentor Catherine Walker of the University of Michigan! How to Select an Audition Song: The Five Cs of Refreshing Your Repertoire

Where do I find this music?
Several resources to help you in your search:

The above sites are for reference. These lists are not comprehensive. You are not required to sing a song from this list. You may sing any American popular song from the 1920s to the 1960s including songs from Broadway shows, Hollywood movie musicals, Tin Pan Alley, and jazz/pop standards.

*Please note: the Songbook Foundation has an extensive collection of sheet music. If you have difficulty locating a piece of music, feel free to email us at SongbookAcademy@theSongbook.org. 

Who should I listen to in order to have a better understanding of this music?
A few examples of performers who sing the music of the Songbook:

Michael Feinstein, Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, Ella Fitzgerald, Betty Hutton, Lena Horne, Doris Day, Barbra Streisand, Judy Garland, Bing Crosby, Fred Astaire, Louis Armstrong, Rosemary Clooney, Nat King Cole, Peggy Lee, Bobby Darin, Sarah Vaughn, Dinah Washington, Patti Page. Michael Buble, Harry Connick, Jr. 

Click here for a playlist of songs we've heard many times over the years. If you like one of these tunes, consider others that are performed by the same singer, or were written by the same composer. The possibilities are truly endless! YouTube: Songbook Academy "Greatest Hits"

If I sing a song from a show, should I perform in character?
While there are many wonderful character songs from this era, they do not always translate well in this setting. The songs you choose need to show your ability to interpret the lyrics and relate to them in a personal way. 

May I sing songs that are different from the ones I recorded for my audition?
You may choose to sing different songs at the regional competition. However, you must get approval from the Songbook Foundation before the event. 


Songbook Academy Week

Where does the Songbook Academy Week take place?
The Songbook Academy week will take place July 11-18, 2020 at the Center for the Performing Arts in Carmel, Indiana, the official home of the Great American Songbook Foundation. 

Am I required to attend the entire week of competition events?

Yes. Finalists must attend the entire week of competition and attend all workshops, classes, rehearsals and performance events during the Academy Week.

Where do we stay during the week?
Dormitory housing for the finalists will be provided by the Songbook Foundation on the campus of Butler University.  Staying at the dorms is mandatory for all finalists, as the opportunity to connect socially with other young artists by learning, performing and living with each other 24 hours a day is an important part of the experience.  

Can my family come with me?
Yes- however, family members are responsible for their own housing and meals. Please note: most workshops and classes are closed to the public. Families typically come at the end of the week for the final show. The Songbook Foundation will provide a list of convenient local hotels. For more information on the area: www.VisitHamiltonCounty.org

Can I bring more than my two audition songs to the Academy week?
We encourage you to bring extra music to Academy week. If you plan to concentrate on songs different than your audition songs, please get approval from the Songbook Foundation and make sure it is from the Golden Age of the Great American Songbook.  There will likely be opportunities to work on more contemporary repertoire or other styles in workshops throughout the week, so you are encouraged to bring additional music for that purpose; but the repertoire that you will perform in the Showcase needs to fit the criteria of the Great American Songbook.  

Who are the mentors?
We have been extremely fortunate to have had the participation of world-class performers who have served as coaches and mentors for the Academy. These talented individuals have shared a wealth of encouragement, inspiration, and performance techniques with students, for an amazing lifetime experience. Some of the past competition mentors have included two-time Emmy and five-time Grammy Award nominee Michael Feinstein; Tony Award nominee Laura Osnes; Grammy nominated jazz vocalist Jane Monheit; Grammy Award winner Melissa Manchester; five-time Grammy winner Sandi Patty; two-time Grammy winner and Emmy winner Sylvia McNair; Grammy winner Cheryl Bentyne; Grammy winner Catherine Russell; Emmy nominee Marc Cherry; Grammy winner Janis Siegel; Special Tony Award winner Michael McElroy; Tony nominee Jarrod Spector; Catherine W. Adams, University of Michigan Musical Theatre Department; Kathleen Hacker, University of Indianapolis Music Department.

What should I bring to the competition events?
You are required to bring two copies of your music in the appropriate keys. Please bring pencils and a notebook. If selected to attend Academy week, we will send you a list of things you will need for life in the dorms, as well as for performances.

What kinds of workshops will be held at the final competition?

In the past, workshops have included topics such as: vocal technique and vocal health; phrasing from lyrics; song interpretation; stage presence and mic technique; musical comedy; musical improvisation; Great American Songbook 101; auditioning for college arts programs; selecting the right material; the Business End of the Entertainment Business; Image Day and more. You will also have the opportunity to work one-on-one with your accompanists and mentors in coaching sessions.

I'm not a jazz or cabaret singer. Is this the competition for me?
The beauty of the Great American Songbook is that it includes music from Broadway, movie Musicals, Tin Pan Alley, and more. This was the pop music of its day. Each participant is selected based on their individual talents and strengths - regardless of genre. Each of our past competition winners has been unique and different in style from the others. Our winners have been classically trained sopranos, Broadway style belters, swinging jazz singers, and pop style singers. Do what you do best - and have fun!

How are we evaluated during the Academy week?
During Academy Week, all forty participants will perform on the Palladium stage in the Songbook Showcase, where ten participants will be selected to perform as soloists during the Songbook Academy Finals. The ten soloists will be selected based on evaluations throughout Academy Week, as well as the Songbook Showcase performance.

Immediately following the Songbook Academy Finals, a panel of judges will select a Great American Songbook Youth Ambassador and a Songbook Inspiration Award and Songbook Celebration Award winner from the ten soloists. Outstanding Acheivement Awards will be given as well to students not featured as soloists. ALL participants will perform in group numbers during the final concert.

Evaluations over the course of the whole week, in addition to evaluation of the final show performance, will contribute to the determination of awards. You will work with many clinicians and mentors over the course of Academy week who will provide feedback and evaluations. Not all mentors and clinicians will be at the final show performance. Their evaluations will be shared with the judges present at the final show.  All evaluations will be used to determine awards.