For classmates at North Shore High School, senior Lisa Vetrone's participation in the second season of MSG Varsity's Talent Show came as a surprise.
"It's weird because people didn't really know I sing," said the self-taught pianist and songwriter. "I guess it's cool to have people see a different side of me."
Vetrone said she thought she was applying for a scholarship talent show when she sent in a video of herself performing, but was soon on stage in front of television cameras with her hobby on display.
The 18-year-old said she has been singing since she was 2 years old - dressed up as Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz or crooning in public on command, her mother remembered - but only began taking voice lessons one year ago.
She started writing her own music in her freshman year of high school, and began posting her performances of them on Youtube last June.
Music is communication, Vetrone said, and performing her own work is the truest way she can express herself through it.
"It's more personal," she said. "You can only interpret someone else's songs so far and actually feel it, and actually have a degree of authenticity to it."
She said performing on stage was the most fun she's had during the talent show experience so far. Winners are determined American Idol-style by viewer voting.
Vetrone has been accepted at New York University to study music. She said performing has made her sure that she is on her correct path.
"There's just something about the interaction, and having people feel what you feel by singing it to them," she said.