Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts

Grades 9-12
Staff Pick

What’s Special

A haven for artists with a nice racial mix

The Downside

The days are packed

Our Review

Talented kids travel from distant corners of the city to study at the star-studded Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music and Art and Performing Arts. One of the most diverse and sought-after schools in the city, LaGuardia educates children of movie stars along with children poor enough to qualify for free lunch.

Students take a regular academic course load as well as two to three hours a day of their chosen art speciality: drama, dance, vocal music, instrumental music, studio art, or technical theater (which includes lighting, costume and set design). There are tons of performances ranging from opera to musical theater and a wide range of sports teams. The days are packed: Classes typically run from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. With up to three hours of homework a night and rehearsals after school and even during school vacations, sleep deprivation is a common complaint.

The academics are traditional and the quality of teachers ranges from excellent to should-have-retired-long-ago. Students are assigned to "honors" or regular classes depending on their level of achievement. Some classes are lively, with lots of discussion among the teachers and students, while others are more by-the-book. Parents say the math, English and social studies departments are strong, while science is somewhat weaker. The school offers a wide range of Advanced Placement courses and offers Spanish, French, Italian and Japanese as foreign languages. Some parents complain that writing assignments in English and history tend to be short journal entries or responses to readings, rather than long research papers.

The eight-story building opened in 1984 with the merger of two older schools, the High School of Music and Art and the High School of Performing Arts (made famous by the movie "Fame.") The size of the school can be overwhelming for some kids, particularly in their first semester as they are getting used to their routines. And, however conscientious the teachers may be, it's hard to get a lot of individual attention in a class of 34 students. More than one quarter of kids complained in the Learning Environment survey t hat teachers didnt know their names.

Still, most kids are happy to be here. There is a spirited energy to the building that comes from being around students who are passionate about their work. On one of our visits, we heard an 80-member choir sing a beautiful gospel number in 4-part-harmony, listened to kids record music they wrote themselves in the school's recording studio, and watched while students made costumes on sewing machines in the basement. Art majors developed photos in a photography dark room.

[In 2013 long-time principal Kim Bruno announced that she was leaving LaGuardia for a job as the principal of the Ramon C. Cortines School of Visual and Performing Arts in Los Angeles, California. Lisa Mars, former Assistant Principal of Language, Art and Music at Townsend Harris High School became principal.]

The school has attracted some celebrity children in recent years, including the offspring of Madonna, Robert De Niro and Suzanna Vega. It has a nice mix of white, black, Latino and Asian students as well as kids from all five boroughseven the southernmost tip of Staten Island. Nearly 30 percent of students qualify for free lunch. The student body is more than 70 percent female and has many openly gay and lesbian students.

College admissions: Most students go on either to 4-year liberal arts colleges or to conservatories including Julliard, the Manhattan School of Music, Berkelee School of Music, Rhode Island School of Design, and School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Recent graduates attend Ivy League colleges including Harvard, Yale and the University of Pennsylvania, or other highly competitive schools such as Vassar College, Northwestern, and the University of Chicago. Many students go on to CUNY and SUNY schools. Dancers sometimes choose to go straight into professional performing, postponing college until their prime dancing years are over.

Special education: Fewer than one percent of students have Individual Education Plans (IEPs). The school has very limited special education services.

Admissions: Auditions are held from November through December and are highly competitive. In addition to talent, students must have good attendance, strong academics, with at least an 80 in each of their core academic courses and a Level 2 or higher on standardized ELA and math tests. Most admitted students score a 3 or 4 on state tests.

LaGuardia refused our repeated requests to visit. This report is based on interviews, a review of data, news reports and several prior visits to the school, most recently in 2007.(Clara Hemphill, updated November 2011)

Citywide Average Key
This school is Better Near Worse than the citywide average

Is this school safe and well-run?

From 2016-17 NYC School Survey

How many teachers say order and discipline are maintained at this school?
77% Citywide Average
How many students say they feel safe in the hallways, bathrooms and locker rooms?
85% Citywide Average
How many students think bullying happens most or all of the time at this school?
37% Citywide Average
How many teachers say the principal is an effective manager?
80% Citywide Average
How many teachers say they would recommend this school to other families?
81% Citywide Average

From 2015-16 NY State Report Card

How many students were suspended?
3% Citywide Average

From this school's most recent Quality Review Report

Are teachers effective?

From 2016-17 School Quality Guide

How many teachers have 3 or more years of experience teaching?
74% Citywide Average
Years of principal experience at this school

How do students perform academically?

From 2016-17 School Quality Guide

How many students graduate in 4 years?
77% Citywide Average
How many students graduate with test scores high enough to enroll at CUNY without remedial help?
37% Citywide Average
How many students take a college-level course or earn a professional certificate?
38% Citywide Average
How many graduates stay enrolled in college for at least 3 semesters?
64% Citywide Average

From 2017 NY State Graduation Outcomes

How many graduates earn Advanced Regents diplomas?
13% Citywide Average

Who does this school serve?

From 2017-18 Demographic Snapshot

Free or reduced priced lunch
Students with disabilities
English language learners

From 2016-17 School Quality Guide

Average daily attendance
87% Citywide Average
How many students miss 18 or more days of school?
37% Citywide Average

How does this school serve special populations?

From 2016-17 School Quality Guide

How many students with disabilities graduate in 4 years?
59% Citywide Average
How many English language learners graduate in 4 years?
66% Citywide Average
For more information about our data sources, see About Our Data · More DOE statistics for this school

Programs and Admissions

Admissions Method: Audition
Program Description

Dancers receive four years of challenging conservatory-style training in ballet and modern dance through block programming. Supplementary courses include: anatomy, dance history, choreography, theater dance (tap and jazz), career management, repertory, and professional skills.

Admissions Method: Audition
Program Description

The Drama program focuses on acting preparation through block-programmed courses in acting (Meisner and Stanislavsky method), voice and diction, physical techniques, theater history, musical theater, acting on film, career management, and script analysis. Students have numerous opportunities to perform in professional theater spaces throughout their four years, culminating in our Senior Drama Festival.

Fine Art
Admissions Method: Audition
Program Description

The first two years comprise of training in traditional skills and disciplines, which include drawing, painting in water-based media, graphic design, and painting in oils and acrylics. After taking the core art courses, students take advanced courses in the subjects listed and with other elective offerings such as architecture, art history, ceramics, computer graphics, digital media, fashion illustration, mural painting, photography, print making, and sculpture.

Instrumental Music
Admissions Method: Audition
Program Description

Participants study sight singing, music theory, and music history. This studio's performing groups include four symphony orchestras, two concert bands, two jazz bands, and two musical pit orchestras. Participants also have the opportunity to compose, conduct, and perform original repertoire and utilize a state-of-the-art SoundLab recording studio.

Technical Theater
Admissions Method: Audition
Program Description

In block programs, students receive practical training in scenic carpentry, electrics, lighting technology, costume construction, sound properties, stage management, technical drawing (AutoCAD and Autodesk 3DS Max), welding, career management, and design. Students participate in both the production and performance aspects for the various school events. Students may earn transferable college credit through SUNY Potsdam.

Vocal Music
Admissions Method: Audition
Program Description

Participants study sight singing, music theory, and music history. Students receive training in Italian, German, and French vocal literature. This studio's performing groups include Elementary, Mixed, Girls, Women's, and Senior Choruses; Gospel Choir; and Show Choir. In addition there is an annual full-scale opera production. Music electives include chamber music, guitar, music technology, piano, and songwriting.


Language Courses

French, Italian, Japanese, Spanish

Advanced Placement (AP) courses

AP Art History, AP Biology, AP Calculus AB, AP Calculus BC, AP Chemistry, AP Computer Science, AP English Language and Composition, AP English Literature and Composition, AP Environmental Science, AP French, AP Human Geography, AP Italian, AP Japanese, AP Music Theory, AP Physics, AP Psychology, AP Spanish, AP Statistics, AP U.S. History, AP World History


Boys PSAL teams

Baseball, Basketball, Cross Country, Fencing, Gymnastics, Indoor Track, Outdoor Track, Soccer, Volleyball

Girls PSAL teams

Basketball, Bowling, Cross Country, Fencing, Gymnastics, Handball, Indoor Track, Outdoor Track, Soccer, Softball, Swimming, Volleyball

Read about admissions, academics, and more at this school on the NYCDOE’s School Finder
NYC Department of Education: School Finder

  • Give specific examples. Tell us why this school rocks (or doesn't).
  • Criticism is fine, but no profanity, racist or ethnic slurs, or personal attacks.
  • All users must comply with our Terms of Use.


100 Amsterdam Avenue
Manhattan NY 10023
Upper West Side (District 3)
Trains: 1 to 66th St - Lincoln Center; 2, A, B, C, D to 59th St-Columbus Circle; 3 to 72nd St
Buses: BxM2, M10, M104, M11, M12, M20, M31, M5, M57, M66, M7, M72, X12, X14, X30, X42


Lisa Mars
Parent Coordinator
Allison Price

Other Details

Shared campus?
This school is in its own building.
Metal detectors?

You may also like …

Frank Sinatra School of the Arts High School

35-12 35th Avenue
Astoria, NY 11106

Art and Design High School

231-249 East 56th Street
Manhattan, NY 10019