Our Story



The Academy of Music and Performing Arts (AMPA) is an LAUSD magnet program which is proud to share location with six distinguished small learning communities including the celebrated Humanities Magnet on the historic campus of Alexander Hamilton High School. Located on South Robertson Boulevard in Los Angeles, AMPA is situated between Beverly Hills and historic Culver City.

The music program has flourished over the last thirty years as an education model, bridging performing arts with academic standards including a rigorous curriculum. Faculty and staff partner to generate unique opportunities and to further prepare students for advanced post-secondary success. The arts and academics are combined to enrich students’ experience in music and traditional high school disciplines. It was envisioned in 1986 that the Academy of Music would generate a sizzle to energize the dwindling enrollment of the campus. Carol Turley, parent volunteer, approached Sid Thompson, Associate Superintendent of LAUSD and they brainstormed 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 extracted a pearl and in the fall of 1986, the Academy of Music was born.  Betty Maltby was introduced as the new Principal for the entire complex and she enlisted Jim Berk as the magnet “music man/pied piper,” who in a single year, transformed an old industrial arts building into a music haven. As Assistant Principal/Magnet Director, she 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 935 students, which stand as the approximate annual enrollment. Crossing over cultural, ethnic, language, and economic boundaries, a diverse music academy was created offering a breadth of classes and opportunities including instrumental instruction, piano, electronic music, choral, drama, dance, musical theatre, music tech and theatre management. Recognizing the limitations of a public school, Mr. Norman J. Pattiz, an alumnus of Alexander Hamilton High School, was approached as a potential advisor/donor. Hardly expecting the enthusiastic response of Mr. Pattiz, the school continues to be supported with his foundation’s generosity. A standard high school auditorium was transformed into a state of the art concert hall, new piano labs were purchased, scholarships were created and 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 numerous awards for competitions around the country. Invitations to perform at venues in Los Angeles are numerous. Leadership and 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), David Way (4 years), and Marlene Zuccaro, who retired spring April 2018 (9 years).

Mentoring partnerships have been established with Grammy in the Schools, LA Philharmonic, LA Opera, Cinemagic International Youth Film Festival, Sundance Film Composers, GetLit Players, Thelonius Monk Institute, SouthWest Music, Nimbus School of Recording Arts, Village Records, and West LA College. 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 Richard (actor), Melody Perry (actor), Reeve Carney (actor/musician), and Lizzie Caplan (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 in educating musicians to follow in their footsteps. AMPA enjoys a legacy of awards and recognition received at music and performance competitions, festivals and concerts across the nation, including National Youth Theater Awards, John Cage Festival, David Foster and Friends, Playboy Jazz Festival, New Generation Monterey Jazz Festival, GRAMMY® Awards, LA Opera, Rose Bowl Parade, Our Lady of Angels Cathedral and Great American Dance Competition to name a few. Academy of Music students have received outstanding production, acting, dance and choreography prizes as well as conservatory scholarships to elite music programs.   Our campus is frequently selected as a location for film and television production. We invite all prospective students entering secondary grades 9-12 to apply for open admissions.

Visit our campus for an information presentation and walking tour during the months of October and November. Eighty percent of students are admitted through the LAUSD Choices application process. Twenty percent of admissions are reserved for audition placement. Auditions take place during the Spring semester. Dates and times will be announced and posted on our website. While we are an open and diverse institution, there is limited space and we encourage you to visit and apply early. AMPA administration and the school community is a dedication to an inclusive and equal educational opportunity policy for students who display talent as well as interest.  Those who aspire to learn and experience a range of disciplines in the performing arts, as well as formal academics, are welcome to join our community.   Thank you for your interest in our program. We welcome your application and support.


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