• To foster a strong community of student musicians and a supportive collaborative environment for individual growth.
• To complement the musical instruction being offered in private studios and to support and facilitate performance skills for high school choral and musical theater programs.
• To systematically weave together scientific and creative processes.
• To nurture talent at an exceptional level through all disciplines of the singing actor.

Prelude Program Components

Vocal Arts

• Warm-ups, vowel formation, application of the breath, endurance, range building, resonance, language
• Healthy production free of muscular tensions
• Building of Solo Repertoire
• Private coaching with collaborative pianist
• Theory, sight-singing
Prelude Elements
• Portfolio Building
• Performance
• Master Classes
• Outside Events
• Goal Setting
• Whole musician awareness training

Vocal Ensemble

• Ensemble Repertoire chosen from Renaissance to Musical Theater to Opera to Jazz
• Emphasis on a cappella repertoire, enforcing ear training
• Sight-singing, theory, rhythmic and interpretive skills continue, to complement work done in Vocal Arts

Performance Lab – Acting and Movement for Singers

• Addresses unique challenges of singer actors: extension of time, music without words, complexity of multi-tasking
• Step-by-step approach works with gesture, face, focus, body, addresses tension, through structured play/self-discovery
• Techniques apply to solo repertoire introduced in Vocal Arts with the addition of scenes taken from Opera and Musical Theater

Scholarships and Financial Aid

To apply for financial aid, please complete the Financial Aid Form.

Performance scholarships are awarded based on Prelude Auditions. The following scholarships are awarded on an annual basis.

Elinor Watson Bell Preparatory Program Endowment, created in 1991 by MacPhail board member Elinor Watson Bell (1911-2002). A gifted pianist and lifelong advocate of the arts, Elinor served on the boards of the Minnesota Orchestral Association, the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra and MacPhail. The first student to receive a scholarship in her honor was MacPhail Preparatory Program and violin student Emilia Mettenbrink in 1995.

Lillian Vail Scholarship, created in 1989 by Robin Withington in honor of her aunt, Lillian Vail, who taught dance at MacPhail for 43 years. She was a former vaudeville dancer who performed on Broadway and was friends with the actor Rudolph Valentino, comic George Burns and actor Archibald Leach (aka Cary Grant).

Henry H. Wade Scholarship, created in 1992 by Henry H. Wade at his death based on his long love of music and his desire to encourage students who are wishing to pursue a career in music.

How to Get Started

Singer-Actor Performance Lab is a year-long program (September-May). A written application begins the process.

Download the Prelude Application 2019-20

Auditions take place on June 7 between 3-7 p.m. To schedule an audition, please email Manon Gimlett at gimlett.manon@macphail.org to arrange a time. The audition includes performance, sight-singing and interview. Application does not guarantee admission to this program.


Tuition for 2018-2019 is $840 per semester. For information about financial assistance applications please call Student Services at 612-321-0100.

What Are Students Saying About Prelude

“Prelude has been a second home to me. It has given me an opportunity to shine and taste my capabilities.”

“The faculty at Prelude expected you to pull every inch of emotion and meaning out of your piece, which was definitely something I wasn’t used to. The words ‘to perform’ took on new meaning: there was a certain point where you weren’t acting anymore. It was something real.”

“I loved my first year in Prelude. I learned so much about vocal technique and performing and for the first time felt like I was really growing as an artist.”

“The members in Prelude are very welcoming and supportive and never hesitate to recognize the talent in everyone else.” “Before Prelude I was very shy, but during the course of the year, I learned how to talk to people, how to accept praise and criticism and how to be myself.”

Visit the Google Sites Prelude: Singer-Actor Performance Lab website

Questions about Group Lessons or Ensembles at MacPhail?

Contact Melissa Falb at 612-767-5438 or via Email

MacPhail will be open today for all scheduled activities.