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background vocal technique

Background Vocal Recording Techniques

Music and Performing Arts Professions Ensembles

Vocal Ensembles are a credited class that students register for.  Please refer to the course catalog for more information regarding registration for these courses.

The ability to sing excellent background vocals at a recording session is one of the hallmarks of a truly professional singer.

The Background Vocal Recording Techniques Ensemble teaches the skills needed to excel at singing contemporary background vocals in small groups for recording. The course focuses on BGVs in a recording studio setting. Our classroom is the fabulous Dolan Recording Studio in the Education Building. You may also be recording at home on your computer and coordinating with the other singers and the class accompanist to create a professional product.

Starting with a discussion about vocal blending, we’ll move on to work on a basic understanding of recording mics, mic technique, vocal technique, and more. Groups of three will record background parts focusing on all aspects of genre-appropriate blending.

No matter how focused you may be on solo work, remember that many stars were background singers before they reached stardom (e.g., Mariah Carey, Luther Vandross, Sheryl Crow, Katy Perry, Whitney Houston, Mary J. Blige, Gwen Stefani, John Legend, Cher, Melba Moore, Valerie Simpson, Keri Hilson, Phil Collins, Faith Evans). Come develop a marketable skill that can take you places.

Who Can Register

Vocalists and instrumentalists who pass the audition can register. Freshmen vocalists cannot audition for vocal performance ensembles.

Audition Information

This class is ONLY offered during the Spring semester so look for the Vocal Audition Form to open several weeks before the Spring registration period.

First, please fill out this Vocal Audition Form.  Then, prepare one audition video. All auditioning will be done with a video that you make and share with me on Google Drive. The Google Drive link is on the audition form. Ideally, you should sing all three songs in one take.

1. One uptempo, really fast song. By uptempo/really fast, we mean a dance tempo
(150 BPM) but not necessarily a dance song. Examples are: "Heartbreaker" (Pat
Benatar), "Runaway Baby" (Bruno Mars), "Firework" (Katy Perry).

2. One ballad or medium tempo song.

3. One song of your choice (in a different tempo from the first two) to be sung a

4. Please sing no more than 2 minutes of each song.

The songs should be from one of the contemporary genres (no musical theater or classical, please). You can use karaoke tracks to sing to. Make sure you are singing in a key that suits you by downloading the karaoke and changing the key if necessary.

Try to eliminate some of the time between songs by having them cued up and ready to go on your computer, phone, or whatever you are playing them from. It’s a better look if you are not fumbling searching for the next song between takes.

The AUDITION DEADLINE is Wednesday, January 5, 2024 at midnight (subject to change). I will be accepting students on a rolling basis as the auditions come in so send your audition ASAP.

Course Information and Meeting Time

- MPAVP-UE 1181.011
- MPAVP-GE 2181.011
This ensemble class only meets in the Spring semester. The class is scheduled to meet on Wednesdays from 4:55 pm to 6:35 pm in the Dolan Recording Studio A (Education Building - 6th floor). Singers are required to attend all classes and to practice with their classmates outside of class. This means that instruction will be synchronous and asynchronous. There is no final performance. There is a midterm
assessment and a final assessment. The final assessment will probably take place during finals week (which is after classes end) so please do not make any plans for that week that may conflict with whatever the date of the assessment may be.

You can take this class for 1 credit.


Veteran singer Janice Pendarvis teaches this class. See video clips from one of her

Contact Information

Adjunct Professor: Janice Pendarvis (
Vocal Performance Admin: Scott Allen (
MPAVP-UE 1181.011
MPAVP-GE 2181.011

Sample Performance

Students in NYU Steinhardt's Vocal Performance program remotely sing "How Deep is Your Love."