History of Hamilton Academy of Music Magnet

Welcome to Hamilton High School Academy of Music, a Los Angeles Unified School District magnet school specializing in the performing arts. The Academy of Music maintains a comprehensive academic and performing arts curriculum which will prepare students for academic excellence in the college of their choice, as well as an enriching experience to those students who choose to pursue performing arts as a career. Students are offered beginning to advanced level student in areas including instrumental music, piano, vocal music, electronic music, drama, musical theatre, dance and technical theatre. Performances are held in the professionally equipped Norman J. Pattiz Concert Hall.

The Academy of Music is part of the Alexander Hamilton High School Complex, which consists of seven small learning communities operating together on a single campus to provide a wide range of academic and extracurricular opportunities to its students. The small learning communities include Mathematics, Science Medical Center, Center for Global Studies, School of Communication Arts, College & Career Pathways, Business & Interactive Technology, Humanities Magnet and the Academy of Music.

Applications for admission to the Academy of Music are processed by the Office of Student Integration Services (213)241-6532. Information about the magnet programs, and the simple application form for admission, are contained in the Choices booklet, available at any LAUSD school. If you have any questions or need additional information, call the Academy of Music Office at (310) 280-1477 and speak with our amazing Adminsitrative Assistant, Mrs. Carol Turley.

It was envisioned in 1986 that Hamilton Academy of Music would capsulize the glitz and sizzle that would energize the dwindling enrollment of Hamilton High School. Carol Turley, parent volunteer, approached Sid Thompson, Associate Superintendent in Los Angeles Unified School District and they brain stormed on what components would capture the imagination of young musicians and performers across a large metropolitan district. With Alan Gershman, member of the Board of Education, at the helm a pearl was extracted and the birth of Hamilton Academy of Music emerged in the fall of 1986 as a magnet school. Betty Maltby was introduced as a new Principal for the entire complex and she enlisted Jim Berk as the "the music man/pied piper," who took a year to transform an old industrial arts building into a music haven. Jim Berk, Assistant Principal/Magnet Director, recruited some of the finest music teachers to create a "fame school" in Los Angeles.

In September 1987, the doors opened and the staff welcomed 350 students. Within a short span of time the enrollment increased to 925 students, which is the standing enrollment each year crossing over all cultural, ethnic, language, and economic boundaries. A breadth of classes and opportunities await each student including instrumental instruction, piano, electronic music, choral (classical & jazz) drama, dance, musical theatre, technical & theatre management. It's an exciting and stimulating environment!

Recognizing the limitations of a public school, Norman J. Pattiz, alumni of Hamilton High School, was approached as a potential advisor/donor. Hardly expecting the enthusiastic response of Mr. Pattiz, the school faculty has been overwhelmed with the generosity. A high school auditorium was transformed into a state of the art concert hall, new piano labs were purchased, scholarships were awarded. In 1989 Mr. Pattiz was inducted as the second recipient of the Academy's Hall of Fame.

The Academy of Music has been recognized by NARAS as a Grammy Signature School, Down Beat magazine has recognized the jazz ensemble and jazz chorus for excellence, and many performing groups have received awards for competitions around the country. Invitations to perform at venues in Los Angeles are numerous. Leadership & stability measure the quality of any good institution and the Academy of Music has been fortunate to have embodied both in good administrators, which have included Jim Berk (4 years), who later became Principal of the complex, Jeff Kaufman (11 years), and David Way (4 years).

Mentoring partnerships have been established with Fox Music, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, U.C.L.A. Music Department and the Mancini Institute. The Academy continually looks for opportunities to connect young talent with the industry.

Since the inception of Hamilton Academy of Music alumni have left the small cocoon of a high school campus to embark on a music career or educational goals majoring in music. Famous names or faces to be recognized include Abe Laboriel Jr. (drummer), Yoon-Soo Lee (pianist), Mike Elizondo (producer), Kamasi Washington (sax player), Emile Hirsch (actor), Robert Ri'chard (actor), Melody Perry (actor). Other alumni less well known to the public are instilling the love of fine arts in the next generation. They are playing a significant role educating musicians to follow in their foot steps.