History & Mission

Our Mission

To provide the extraordinary benefits of music to all in our community.

Our Values

We believe in the inherent power of music to provide personal enrichment, creative expression, lifelong learning, cultural appreciation, and joy for everyone.

Excellence - We strive to provide leadership and innovation in music education, encompassing high standards, best teaching practices and respect for individual  differences.  We seek to be a place where students of all ages and abilities grow through music and have the opportunity to develop their skills and talents to their greatest potential. 

Access – Guided by our commitment to inclusiveness, we believe that financial limitations or differing ability should never be a barrier to learning.  We take our programs into the community as necessary to ensure this.

Community – We bring people together through musical collaboration, bridging differences, forging connections, and celebrating musical and cultural diversity.

Our History

Founded in 1929 with an enrollment of six students, the Music Conservatory of Westchester today is the largest music education institution in the greater Westchester region, serving 2,800 students each year: 800 who attend lessons and classes at the school’s White Plains campus, and 2,000 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.

Many renowned musicians have been involved with the Conservatory as board members and volunteers, including Pablo Casals, Cab Calloway, Aaron Copland, Elmar Oliveira, and Bucky Pizzarelli. Others such as Garrick Ohlsson, Mindy Kaufman, William Wolfram, Todd Machover, and Ken-David Masur received their early music training at the Conservatory. Artists who chose the Conservatory for their children’s music education include Maestro Kurt Masur, and violinists Ani Kavafian and Charles Rex. In 1977, the school earned accreditation from the National Association of Schools of Music and today is one of only 16 non-degree-granting institutions to hold that distinction.

Throughout its history, the Conservatory has proactively embraced everyone in the community regardless of age, background, ability or financial means. In 1986, with a $5,000 seed grant, the school launched its Music Therapy Institute in order to better serve those with disabilities. MTI today serves 2000 children and adults, providing individual and group music therapy, and adapted instrumental and vocal instruction. The program operates onsite at the Conservatory, and on an outreach basis in partnership with 30 different organizations including school districts, special education programs, hospitals, rehabilitation centers, senior care facilities, and social service agencies.

In 1992, the Conservatory established its Scholarship Program with a $300,000 challenge grant from the Lila Wallace-Reader’s Digest Fund. Today we provide $160,000 in need-based tuition assistance for 125 students each year, of whom 65% come from minority backgrounds. Former scholarship recipients have gone on to pursue music careers, attending major schools like Juilliard and Oberlin. Others go on to pursue a wide variety of career paths, and many are the first in their families to attend college.

In 1998, having outgrown its building, the Conservatory conducted a feasibility study to assess its future facility needs and its potential role in the revitalization of downtown White Plains. as a result, the Conservatory mounted a $7.8 million capital campaign to acquire and renovate its current 36,000 square-foot fully building which opened in 2001. The Steffi Nossen Dance School and Westchester Choral Society are in residence in the building, and numerous other nonprofits use the school’s facilities for concerts and events. 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, and regular concertgoers, thus contributing to the vitality for the field of music in the Northeast region of the United States and beyond.


Non-Discrimination Statement

The Music Conservatory of Westchester does not discriminate in its employment, enrollment, programs and/or activities on the basis of race, ethnicity, disability (subject to reasonable accommodation), age, national origin, gender or sexual orientation. Our mission is to provide the extraordinary benefits of music to all in our community.