Classical Instrumental

Students currently in 6th-7th grades may apply for Middle School Arts Instruction.
Students currently in 8th-11th grades may apply for High School Arts Instruction.

The Classical Instrumental program offers extensive pre-professional training to intermediate and advanced instrumental students in Piano, Strings, Brass, Winds, and Guitar. Instruction will focus on areas such as exploration of the standard repertoire, chamber music, theory, musicianship/ear training, as well as scales, etudes, and accompaniment.

It is strongly recommended that all students first attend the NOCCA Classical Instrumental Audition Information Session before attempting the official NOCCA Classical Instrumental Audition. In order to have the necessary skills required to pass the NOCCA audition, students should have been taking individual music instrumental lessons (one-on-one) for at least one full year with a professional and qualified classical instructor that is a specialist for their instrument.

Video Audition (Pre-Screening Round)
Video Recording Requirements: For the first, pre-screening round of the audition any student applying for any instrument will need to submit a continuous unedited performance video. Videos must not be filmed more than two weeks prior to submission. Video recordings must be unedited and continuous (may not be cut or paused between each repertoire selection and the scales). Videos taken by cell phones and other non-professional video devices are acceptable. Selected students will be invited to the Live In-Person Audition Round at NOCCA.

Repertoire Requirements: Any applicant applying for any instrument will need to submit (1) two *contrasting pieces, such as a movement of a Sonata, Sonatina, Concerto, Two-part Invention, Etude, Characteristic Piece, etc., and (2) two major or minor scales. It is recommended that the audition pieces best demonstrate the student’s ability to play in both technical and lyrical styles. Scales for all instruments must be performed from memory. Please see below for specific requirements concerning each instrument/area.

*”Contrasting” refers to two different time periods (i.e. Baroque, Classical, Romantic, Impressionistic, Contemporary). In order to show different types of skills (technical, musical, etc.), students may choose one fast and one slow piece, but that is not a requirement and what is meant with “contrasting.” Students should not play two pieces by the same composer or two movements of the same piece.

Classical Piano: Perform (1) two contrasting pieces (see definition of contrasting above) from memory that best demonstrate student’s good sound, technique, sense of rhythm, expression, and overall musicality; and (2) two scales of their own choosing and be able to perform them in a speed that is allowing the student to demonstrate evenness, good articulation, and correct fingering. It is highly recommended (but not mandatory) that the student is able to perform the scales in two to four octaves and hands together. Students should record all the required materials on a piano (preferably acoustic, electric/digital is acceptable if needed). The video must be filmed with both the pianist’s face and hands in the frame at all times.

Classical Strings (Violin, Viola, Cello, Double Bass): Perform (1) two contrasting pieces from memory; and (2) two scales of their own choosing. High School applicants are recommended that the scales are performed in three octaves for Violin, Viola and Cello and in two octaves for Bass, and include one major and one melodic minor scale.

Classical Guitar: Classical Guitar applicants will need to (1) demonstrate proper sitting position with a footstool showcasing good posture and left and right-hand position and function of the fingers as referenced in Pumping Nylon by Scott Tennant. (2) Perform two contrasting pieces from memory (see definition of contrasting above), such as a movement of a Sonata, Sonatina, Concerto, stand-alone piece, or Etude that demonstrate good sound technique, good sense of rhythm, expression, and overall musicality. (3) Demonstrate two-octave major scales (Segovia C-major moveable pattern) from 1st to 7th position and a first position chromatic scale on all six strings—alternation of index and middle fingers from the big knuckle should be evident.

Classical Woodwinds (Flute, Oboe, Clarinet, Bassoon, Saxophone), and Classical Brass (French Horn, Trumpet, Trombone, Euphonium, Tuba): Students will need to prepare to perform (1) two contrasting pieces (see definition of contrasting above). Selected works may be chosen from standard works for the instrument (individual movements from a Concerto, Sonata, Etude or other solo work). Selections cannot be excerpts or individual parts from band or orchestra works. Audition pieces should best demonstrate the student’s ability to play in both technical and lyrical styles. It is recommended (but not mandatory) that at least one of the selected pieces is performed from memory. (2) In addition, applicants must prepare two major scales of their own choosing (one or two octaves). Scales must be performed from memory. (3) Applicants should demonstrate proper posture and hand position for their instrument.

Selected applicants from the first Video Pre-Screening Round will be invited to the second In-Person Audition Round at NOCCA.

In-Person Audition Round at NOCCA (by invitation only)

Students will be asked to perform live, in front of the Classical Instrumental faculty, both of the pieces they have submitted for the first (Video Pre-Screening) round, and to perform scales and demonstrate skills in sight-reading music. Students should be able to discuss their grades and express a strong self-drive and motivation to advance in their art form. Students may also be given a written test in elemental music theory, so that they are placed at the most suitable theory level should they be accepted at the Classical Instrumental Program at NOCCA.

In addition to individual department requirements, all applicants will:

    • Upload to the application a 1-2 minute video of the applicant answering the question, “Why do I want to train at NOCCA?”
    • Upload to the application a copy of the most recent report card. Applicants must have at least a 2.0 GPA.
    • Be prepared with the email of an adult who is not related to you to complete your recommendation. Your recommender will receive an email from Acceptd with a link to fill out a recommendation form online.


Photo of Dr. Hristo Birbochukov Dr. Hristo Birbochukov Classical Instrumental Department Chair: Piano
(504) 940-2842

The Bulgarian-born pianist Hristo Birbochukov [B IH R – b oh – CH UU – k oh v] has appeared frequently in solo and collaborative music performances in Eastern Europe and in the United States, including a New York debut recital in 2012.…

Photo of Josiah Bullach Josiah Bullach Classical Instrumental Faculty: Brass

Josiah Bullach serves as Associate and Assistant Principal Horn of the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra. Since his appointment to the LPO in 2016, Josiah has played an active role as a performer, recording artist, and educator.…

Photo of Dr. Leslie Cain Dr. Leslie Cain Music Theory, Ear Training, Accompanist

Pianist Leslie Cain, D.M.A., has been widely praised for her delicate touch and nuanced sense of color at the keyboard. Born and raised in Los Angeles, she completed her Bachelor’s degree at the Manhattan School of Music, where she studied with André-Michel Schub.…

Photo of Dr. Zorica Dimova Dr. Zorica Dimova Classical Instrumental Instructor: Violin/Viola, Strings

Zorica Dimova is originally from Bulgaria. She started playing the violin when she was 5 years old. At 9 she joined the Youth Orchestra with which she toured Europe and won various awards.…

Photo of Mark-Anthony Thomas Mark-Anthony Thomas Vocal Instructor, Musicianship

Emerging tenor Mark-Anthony Thomas is a native of New Orleans, Louisiana. He is graduate of the New Orleans Center for the Creative Arts, where he studied vocal music and received a Certificate of Artistry under the tutelage of Phyllis Treigle.…

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