History & Mission

The Music Conservatory was founded in 1929 by a group of musicians including the legendary cellist Pablo Casals. Among its former students are internationally-acclaimed concert pianist Garrick Ohlsson, New York Philharmonic flutist Mindy Kaufman, and noted composer Todd Machover who has written significant works for Yo-Yo Ma and Joshua Bell.

Today, the Conservatory is the largest music organization in the Westchester region, serving 2,500 students each year: 800 who attend lessons and classes at the school’s White Plains campus, and 1,700 who participate in outreach programs. Our students range in age from pre-school children to seniors and hail from 100 communities in five counties (Westchester, Putnam, Bronx, Rockland, and Fairfield, Connecticut). Minority students represent 40% of enrollment.

The Conservatory provides training using traditional methods of music education, but at the same time appeals to contemporary youth with a Facebook page, Twitter feed, and digital recording capabilities in our recital hall which will enable students to create a video of their on-stage performances and share the results online. Programs include: one-on-one instrumental and vocal instruction in classical, jazz and rock including all band and orchestra instruments, piano, guitar and drums; Performing Ensembles (string ensembles, piano partners, chamber music, jazz combo, rock band, youth chorus, teen vocal ensemble, woodwind and brass ensembles); music theory and composition; young children’s classes, including Suzuki instruction in piano, violin, cello, flute and guitar, and Dalcroze-based music skills classes that teach the fundamentals of music using creative movement, singing and listening; programs for adults and seniors offering an enjoyable, comfortable learning experience focusing on individualized goals; and multi-arts summer programs for youth.

Throughout its history, the Conservatory has proactively embraced everyone in the community regardless of age, background, ability or financial means. Through its Scholarship Program the school provides over $100,000 annually in financial assistance for students from low income families. The school’s Music Therapy Institute offers music therapy and adapted instruction for 1,700 children and adults with a wide variety of disabilities, provided by a faculty of nine board-certified music therapists, in partnership with 32 organizations including public schools, special education programs, hospitals, nursing homes, residential treatment facilities and social service agencies.

Conservatory teachers are distinguished professionals who have performed with the New York Philharmonic, Metropolitan Opera, New York City Opera, New York City Ballet, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, and Jazz at Lincoln Center. Conservatory teachers also serve on the faculties of The Juilliard School, Manhattan School of Music, Mannes College of Music, Aaron Copland School of Music (Queens College) and Third Street Music School. The Conservatory is accredited by the National Association of Schools of Music, chartered by the New York State Board of Regents, and is a member of the National Guild for Community Arts Education.

The Conservatory’s campus consists of a 36,000 square-foot fully renovated building, opened in 2001, with 43 teaching studios, two dance studios, and a state-of-the-art recital hall. The Steffi Nossen Dance School and Westchester Choral Society are in residence in the building. Numerous other nonprofits use the school’s facilities for concerts and events, including the Westchester Community Foundation, United Way, New York State Music Teachers Association, Westchester County Arts Leadership Association, and the Center for Aging in Place. Each year, approximately 10,000 people travel from five counties to attend events at the building, creating an ongoing stimulus for economic development in White Plains.

Since its founding, it is estimated that the Conservatory has trained more than 80,000 students, many of whom have become professional musicians, teachers at universities and public schools, as well as regular concertgoers, thus contributing to the vitality for the field of music in the Northeast region of the United States and beyond.