Studying the arts, courtesy of Billy Joel


Students who have a passion for music have an opportunity to take their skills to the next level this summer at Boces’ Long Island High School for the Arts, or LIHSA for short. On top of that, students whose applications really impress may even get in for free.

“Our summer program works to give students who are not sure if they want to attend the LIHSA program, or who are interested in attending the program down the line, an overview of what it’s like to be here at LIHSA,” said Linday Rogan, the assistant principal of LIHSA. “It gives them a really nice overview of everything that we offer.”

The four-week program, called the Summer Arts Academy, is at LIHSA campus in Syosset. It’s open to students in grades 5 through 12 from anywhere in Nassau or Suffolk.

The Summer Arts Academy offers hands-on education in artistic fields that a student would be hard-pressed to find elsewhere. Students can learn how to construct sets, record and produce music using professional software and audio equipment, perform Broadway choreography, audition for a stage production and more.

“We’re the only performing arts high school on Long Island,” Rogan said. “We partner with industry professionals in our performing arts departments ranging from NYU and Verbatim Theatre Lab to Paul Taylor at the American Ballet Theatre; we are able to offer world class industry professionals that come to LIHSA to work in partnership with our faculty; our faculty members are also known industry professionals that are working in their field. And that really helps to give students the most state of the art education in their chosen art field.”

Even better, there are 15 full scholarships available for music students through funding from the Joel Foundation — yes, that Joel. When LIHSA was in danger of closing eight years ago, Billy Joel was actually the one who stepped in and donated millions to protect the only performing arts high school on Long Island.

Now his foundation is offering full  $2,800 scholarships to 15 students who demonstrate high levels of skill and artistry, which is evaluated in students’ applications and audition videos. The scholarship is available to students from Nassau who are currently in grades 8-11, and have prior experience with music.

But the technical education isn’t the only reason to study the arts at LIHSA.

“Training students to be the next generation of young artists is something that not only myself, but the entire faculty of Long Island High School for the Arts, is very passionate about,” Rogan said. “Beyond the career opportunities — students who study art are really good humans. They learn empathy, they learn strong communication skills, and they learn to reflect on their own experiences. And all of that is really important.”

An education in the arts teaches young people communication, how to reflect, how to provide and accept feedback, and accountability to other artists on your team, Rogan said — skills that every young person needs to develop for their careers.

And what did we all do when the world shut down two years ago? We turned to art, Rogan said. We listened to music, we watched television, we read books. Art continues to be vital, and the benefits of an arts education cannot be understated.

“Art is something that preserves history,” Rogan said. “Art is something that can bring the most subtle things in life to light, and art is the way that we measure our humanity.”

The program runs from June 27 to July 26, on weekdays from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.. Scholarships are awarded based on merit. Students who are interested may submit an audition video and application by May 10. For details on how to apply and audition, students can visit