About the BCA Music Program and AVPA-Music
With over 20 music courses and almost as many performances each year, BCA has one of the most active and diverse music programs found anywhere! Full-stage concerts, community performances, building instruments, composing, or recording - students find a home at BCA exploring the fascinating world of music. This section will provide information about the music program at BCA (applicable to all students) as well as the Academy for Visual and Performing Arts music concentration (AVPA) for those interested in applying to the program.
What is the difference between the regular BCA music program and AVPA?
The Academy for Visual and Performing Arts (AVPA - Music Concentration) is one of the 7 programs of Bergen County Academies. It is an honors-level, high school academic program with a focus in music. Students apply while in 8th grade and pass a rigorous application/audition process. Keep reading to find out more about the BCA music program and then continue scrolling for details about AVPA-M.
The regular music program at BCA is like any excellent music department, with several music electives and activities available to every student here on campus (in all 7 programs). Keep reading to find out more about our music program.
How many courses does BCA offer?
We currently offer 25 music courses. Most are available to all students on campus, while 5 are exclusive to AVPA-M students.
Electives available to all students: Concert Choir, Chamber Choir, Concert Band, Jazz Band, Orchestra, Guitar & Mandolin Orchestra, 6 chamber ensembles, Pit Orchestra (musical), Guitar Class (I, II, III), Musicians Workshop (solder music devices, build musical instruments), AP Music Theory, Advanced Problems in Music Theory, Music & Society (history), Digital Recording Lab, Ukulele Cafe, History of Rock Music.
Exclusive to AVPA-Music students: Musicianship, Digital Keyboarding, Digital Recording Lab (exclusive section), Electronic Music Synthesis, Conducting, Senior Music Seminar.
Are there any special music opportunities at BCA?
In addition to our music electives/courses, many additional music activities are available for students, including Ensemble Prestige, a chamber music concert held throughout the county. Tri-M National Music Honor Society, which recognizes students through a formal induction ceremony. Soundwave Audio Lab is a club held in Bergen Makerspace, where students use soldering skills to create unique electro-music devices (mini amplifiers, drum machines, music effects, etc.). Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center- for the most advanced ensembles. The arts department also participates in the Bergen County Teen Arts Festival every year. Whether interacting with music professionals or simply enjoying a performance, students are exposed to a variety of music opportunities through trips, projects, assemblies, and guest artist visits! There are several school assemblies where any student can perform without the requirment of registering for a course. There is something available for every student here at BCA!
BCA Projects offer additional opportunities:
- Amplify Your Instrument- design, build, and install a pickup system for your acoustic guitar or ukulele.
- Theremin Project- learn soldering and electronic circuitry basics... then build a Theremin and amplifier.
- Wind Chimes- design supporting hardware using applied math to cut and tune chimes, and then assemble the project to take home!
Our Gold Rated Choirs consistently receive the highest ratings in national competitions by certified college adjudicators. Our music department participates in auditions for many honors ensembles, including County, Senior HS Regionals, All-State, All-Eastern, and All-National Band, Chorus, and Orchestra. Each year we have many acceptances in all categories.
The maker movement thrives at BCA. Because our educational roots are in vocational-technical education, we offer unique courses where students build authentic musical instruments, Theremins, wind chimes, and electronic musical gadgets. Every step in the construction process is done, allowing students insight and hands-on experience rarely found in school music programs. Students may be designing the lacquer/finishing process for an acoustic guitar, electro-static powder coating a metal enclosure, or soldering electronic components onto a PCB.
Is there anything you do not offer at BCA?
Since the BCA music program is not a conservatory or a traditional music program, we do not offer private/class lessons. Although we participate in several County, Regional and All-State honors ensembles, BCA does not sponsor students for Junior HS Regionals (grades 7-9). However, 9th graders may audition for Senior HS Regionals, which may provide an opportunity to audition for All-State. The nature of the BCA schedule precludes a marching band. However, students may participate in their home town's marching band, dependent on scheduling and their home district's participation policy.
Can students take all the music courses they wish?
Almost all music courses are open to students from any program or grade level. We do expect students to be able to handle the demands of the music, so they must audition to qualify. Other considerations are free time and scheduling- some music courses run at the end of the school day and may conflict with sports, while other electives during the day may conflict with a core course (math, history, etc.). As you can see, scheduling and making choices are a reality students will be confronted as they grow into adulthood. The learning community is very supportive of our strong music program!
Academy students and teachers expect parents to take an influential role in school life and we cannot continue our successes without parent involvement. We have a strong Parent and Patrons of the Arts (PAPA) association that provides volunteer, organizational, and fundraising support for the entire arts community. Please visit the PAPA website and learn how to join. Parents are also encouraged to join the Parent Partnership Organization (PPO), a recipient of NJ State Department of Education's Best Practice Award, Please visit the PPO website to see how the parents' contribution to the learning community is incomparable!
What is the AVPA-Music Program?
The AVPA-Music program is one of the seven programs at the Bergen County Academies. Students in this program study an academic, honors-level college preparatory curriculum with a focus in music. Students have core academic courses (usually at the honors level) as well as core music courses! The program is for musicians who possess a combination of musical talent, passion and activism.
- 9th graders begin the program by enhancing their keyboard/piano skills in Digital Keyboarding. They also take Musicianship, a methods course where they learn to play woodwind, brass, string and percussion instruments. The course ends with a special project in music technology.
- In 10th grade, students take a rigorous AP Music Theory course and may earn college credit. They study college-level music theory, which includes harmonic analysis, counterpoint, voice leading and ear training. An exhibition of students' digital compositions is also part of the curriculum.
- In 11th grade, students go beyond the AP theory curriculum in Advanced Problems in Music Theory & Technology. Here, students delve into augmented sixth and Neapolitan chords, fugal composition techniques, and analysis of twentieth-century music. They also take Conducting where they acquire techniques needed to lead and direct ensembles. The AVPA-M program ensures a rounded arts education with part 1 of Music & Society: a course that teaches the evolution of musical style with corresponding art and socio-political trends. The year ends with Digital Recording Lab where students learn how to make professional-quality recordings of themselves and their peers while exploring music production.
- In 12th grade, Seniors learn current technological and composition techniques in Electronic Music Synthesis where they work with state-of-the-art software, such as Finale. The course culminates with each student completing a formal composition. They also complete part 2 of Music & Society. The 12th grade capstone course is Senior Music Seminar, where they each build a guitar, and take it home at the end of the course! As part of the course, seniors also produce and present their AVPA-Music Senior Recital- a state-mandated graduation requirement assessed by professionals in the music field.
Each AVPA-M student is required to participate in performing music electives each year (band, orchestra, choir, ensemble).
You can learn more about the AVPA-Music program by attending one of our concerts or admissions open house in the fall. Please note that the AVPA-M program is not a conservatory or a full-time performing arts program. We offer a college preparatory, academic honors program, with a focus in music.
What kind of student do you accept into the AVPA-Music Program?
Academically talented students prepared for a challenging, college preparatory honors-level, academic curriculum. Students who have an outstanding ability in music- students we accept are some of the strongest musicians in their communities and participate in honors level ensemble and/or pre-college programs.
- Individuals who have demonstrated academic achievement
- Talented musicians who have achieved musical excellence (competition finalists, pre-college, awards, etc.)
- Students planning to study music in college.
- "Music is my life"
- Students with years of private music study continuing throughout high school.
- Students who are not heavily oriented towards sports. Although we recognize the value of athletics in a child’s development, consistent participation is limited due to conflicts with required music courses/rehearsals and interscholastic sports.
Students apply while in eighth grade and are only accepted as incoming 9th graders. Students are not permitted to transfer from other schools or other BCA programs.
What kind of student do you produce?
College bound students prepared to succeed in college music programs. BCA graduates have gone on to study music at Berklee College of Music, Curtis Institute of Music, Eastman School of Music, Juilliard, Peabody Conservatory, Westminster Choir College. Many of our alumni are now touring musicians, music teachers, music business professionals, or avocational musicians working in other fields.
What is the admissions process like?
The best thing you can do is visit the open house session for the Academy for Visual and Performing Arts (AVPA). You will receive a detailed description of the AVPA program, tour of the facilities, meet faculty, and obtain important application/audition materials. Please visit the Bergen County Academies admissions page for details.
What is the audition process like?
Candidates who are selected for an interview must also audition on their primary instrument or voice. The audition includes a scale, solo, sight-reading, and tonal memory (singing). The audition and interview take place at the same time and are the final step in the application process. One can download a copy of the AVPA-M audition requirements on this website (see "Audition Information" the sidebar). It is important that students prepare the audition material exactly as specified.
On the day of auditions, students will report to the school at a specified time. The audition will take about ten minutes. Immediately after the audition, students undergo an interview. This is an opportunity for the school to learn more about the student. This will be the final step in the application process.
Students may best prepare for the audition by following the audition requirements for AVPA-M, as detailed on the audition handout. The purpose is to hear candidates play their best and learn about their musical and academic strengths. Except for pianists, students must bring their own instrument. All solos must be performed unaccompanied.
Students may best prepare for the interview by thinking about why they want to attend BCA. Bringing a resume of musical accomplishments and activities is also required. Become familiar with the school, especially the music program, by attending some of our concerts; we suggest the Autumn, Holiday, and Spring Concerts. This will give candidates a solid idea of the various ensembles at BCA.