Q:What sort of repertoire is studied and performed?
A:The music program is based on classical music. It is based on classical music because that is an excellent foundation for all types of music. Students also have opportunities to study some jazz and musical theatre.
Q:How many people are accepted (by instrument)
A:We don’t have a quota system, but we do try to reasonably staff a vocal program, an orchestra and a wind ensemble. We try to select a study body that is balanced in this respect.
Q:After school concert opportunities (going to concerts)
A:Going to professional concerts is an important part of learning (and enjoying) music. We attend selected concerts in the neighborhood (Baltimore Symphony Orchestra and Peabody) and beyond (Washington National Opera and Library of Congress).
Q:What if I don’t own an instrument?
A:The school endeavors to loan instruments to students who need one.
Q:What does the school expect from music students?
A:Music students are expected to do the assigned work (musical and academic) and to make steady, weekly progress. This involves time, energy and thoughtful problem-solving.
Q:Private lessons -- What are they? Are they graded?
A:Students meet with an expert in their performance major one period per week. In the private lesson students develop the artistic and technical skills to enable them to become proficient on their major. Each student is expected to progress to the level acceptable to major music education institutions by the senior year. This is pre-professional work.
Students are expected to arrive with all the required materials, which could include the following—notebook for recording lesson comments and assignments, sheet music, instrument, reeds, tape recorder, metronome, etc.
They are expected to have completed the work assigned at the last lesson. Each week’s lesson is graded.
Students perform in recital once per semester and perform for a panel of faculty once per semester. This last performance is an evaluation of the work accomplished over the semester. The grade is entered as a semester exam grade.
Q:How much practice time is expected?
A:Instrumental music students are expected to practice 2 hours every evening, 6 days per week. Voice students are expected to practice 45 minutes every evening, 6 days per week. This is individual practice, focused on the studio teacher’s plan for the week.
Q:If I am currently studying with a private teacher, may I continue with lessons?
A:BSA has a faculty of outstanding music professionals including members of the BSO and Peabody faculties. Beyond their performance affiliations, they are knowledgeable about BSA’s music program and the things you’ll learn and do here. They are very experienced with high school age students in this setting. We feel that, in most cases, these musicians will provide excellent training and for a student at BSA, the best possible comprehensive training.
While we have the utmost of confidence in our faculty’s abilities, there are occasionally situations that warrant other arrangements. We are willing to consider a request to remain with a teacher that is not on the BSA faculty, and there are two situations that seem particularly compelling.
Some students come to us with a relatively small amount of time studying their major area. If these students have made tremendous progress in a short time with the current teacher, it’s worth considering a continuation of that relationship.
Alternatively some students come to us at a very advanced level. If a student is working on the level of most conservatory students, it might be worth continuing or seeking out a conservatory level teacher for that person.
Any such request should be directed to the music department head.
Q:What music education models does the music program follow?
A:The BSA music program is modeled on conservatory programs that one would find at institutions like Peabody or Juilliard (but on a high school level).
Each student studies individually with a faculty member who is an accomplished professional performer in their instrument or voice. This private lesson is a central feature of the program and the success of the student is tied to the success of the lesson.
Beyond the lesson students study and perform in various musical ensembles. They also participate in a 4-year music literacy program that seeks to provide each student with the training to enable them to look at a musical score and hear (in their imagination) how it would sound when played.
Q:What makes this music program unique?
A:The music program at BSA is unique in a couple of respects—
We seek to provide students with a comprehensive musical education. This training involves
Focused work in the major instrument or voice
Musical performance experience
Each student performs in their specialty area and in the chorus
Musical literacy training
An understanding of the history of classical and jazz music.
Q:Are there internships (for individuals) or partnerships (for institutions) in the arts?
A:BSA and its students work with many local arts organizations. These groups include the Peabody Institute, the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, the American String Teachers Association, Bach Concert Series in Baltimore and Johns Hopkins University.
Q:What about composing music?
A:Students have an opportunity to write music for various small ensembles. This music is rehearsed and performed, often for a visiting guest composer. We feel that creating music is an important activity.
Q:Where do students go after graduating?
A:About 75% of our graduates begin a music major at a post-secondary educational institution after graduating from BSA. About 98% of our graduates begin some sort of post-secondary program immediately after graduating BSA.
Q:How many extra, after school events occur?
A:The major ensembles have evening concerts, but almost all rehearsals take place during the school day. About 15 after school mandatory events occur in a given year.
Q:What performance opportunities exist?
A:Please refer to the curriculum page for a listing of ensembles. Students perform as soloists at least once per semester in student recitals that are attended by the entire music department. These recitals take place during the school day and are accompanied by faculty pianists.
Beyond these events, school ensembles perform at off-campus venues when invited (Shriver Hall Concert Series, Baltimore Chamber Orchestra, Baltimore Opera).
Q:Why does everyone sing in chorus?
A:We think it is extremely beneficial for all musicians to sing. When one sings, one creates an aural image in one’s imagination and makes that image real without the intervention of a musical instrument. Singing in chorus helps to develop that aural imagination and it is also an opportunity for instrumentalists to perform music that may be too challenging to perform on one’s instrument. This is important part of musical training here and in college. There is a strong emphasis on solfege and sight-singing in our choral program.
Q:Changes that parents should expect:
A:Students will be very busy with academic and musical homework. At first many students find that managing their time and energy is quite a challenge, but in most cases this improves over the course of the first year.
Students will be involved in many musical activities with their school colleagues and will develop a web of friends with similar interests.
Students interact with colleagues in the other departments and in other grades. The work at school is rigorous but the atmosphere is welcoming.
Students will become adept at time management, at problem solving and at accomplishing many tasks in a short period of time. Students will become comfortable dealing with people from all walks of life and from all over the Maryland area.
In short, by the time a student graduates from BSA, they often find college is only the next challenge and not a particularly daunting one.