The Eastman Community Music School (ECMS) was founded in 1921 by industrialist and philanthropist George Eastman (1854-1932), founder of the Eastman Kodak Company. The Eastman Community Music School is a part of the world renowned Eastman School of Music and the University of Rochester … and is a centerpiece of George Eastman’s grand vision of music “for the enrichment of community life.”
Located on the campus of the Eastman School of Music, the ECMS has been educating residents of the Greater Rochester and Western NY State area for more than ninety years. We estimate that as many as 60,000 students have received music instruction at the school since its inception. The school is deeply embedded in the community and is one of the most important connections between Eastman, the University of Rochester and the residents of the extended area.
As part of the University and the Eastman School of Music, the Community School has enjoyed many connective advantages. The Eastman advantage includes shared faculty, world-class concert halls, rehearsal halls, studios, the renowned Sibley Music Library, as well as an artistic environment second to none in which a wide array of recitals, concerts, lectures, master classes and an steady stream of visiting guest artists from all over the world takes place.
The offerings of the Eastman Community Music School include: applied classical and jazz lessons (all instruments and voice), a full array of classical and jazz theory / composition, history, music technology courses as well as numerous ensembles from intimate chamber groups to large ensembles. Each week, approximately 900 applied lessons and 100 classes and ensembles are held on campus offered through the Community School.
Faculty and Staff
The Community School has approximately 135 dedicated teaching artists who are inspired and driven by the schools mission. Sixty are Instructors (15 full-time, 12 half-time and 33 part-time) who are seasoned artist and who bring a wealth of experience and teaching expertise. Approximately seventy five are Interns (Eastman graduate students) who bring freshness and youthful energy to the school. The ECMS has a vibrant balance of experience and energy in its faculty and an active intern mentoring program, all of which puts the school’s focus squarely on the art of teaching.
Many of the Community School’s faculty are members of the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra; many also teach at the college; many are from other countries and all hold advanced music degrees from the world’s leading music colleges and conservatories and all of our faculty have a deep love for teaching students of all ages and all ability levels.
The Community School currently serves approximately 1600 students during the school year and another 250 students during our Summer Session. Our students range in age from under one year to over ninety years of age and come to us from the greater Rochester community as well as from all over Western NY State. During Summer Session, ECMS students come from all over the United States as well as from many countries from around the world.
Our students have a wide range of backgrounds and interests: they are very young children discovering music for the first time, they are performers, theorists, composers, professional musicians, music educators, students seeking artistic enrichment and many pursue substantial programs of study leading to one of several ECMS diplomas.
Pre-School and Elementary Programs
The Community School is the home of the nationally acclaimed Early Childhood Program started by Eastman Eisenhart Professor of Music Education, Donna Brink Fox, who is a leading authority on early childhood music education. This four-level program is designed for students ranging in age 4 months to 6-years old. The Early Childhood program has grown to approximately 250 students and has a waiting list for those wanting to participate.
Theory in Motion was started by Dr. Adam Foley for elementary students (grades 1 – 6) and is a five level program that focuses on aural skills, training, music literacy and musicianship. Theory in Motion is cross connected to many other ECMS elementary programs and is recommended for all of our elementary aged students.
The Eastman Community Music School is also the home of an extensive choir program directed by Karie Schroer Templeton, which includes the Eastman Young Children’s Chorus for children in grades 2 – 4 (Jason Holmes, director – Link) and the Eastman’s Children’s Chorus for students in grades 5 – 8 (Karie Templeton, director – Link).
Eastman Beginning Strings Program, directed by Senior Instructor Jeremy Zhu, is a blend of Suzuki, traditional and contemporary teaching methods for young children beginning violin, viola, or cello. Students, ages four and up, learn the fundamentals of string playing in a relaxed and nurturing atmosphere.
Given that the Community School is located on a college campus, ECMS students “go to college” every time they come to Eastman! The ECMS is the single most important feeder program for the Eastman School of Music. On average, 20 – 35 ECMS students are accepted to Eastman each year. Many others go on to other wonderful music schools all across the country. The faculty is equally proud of their ECMS graduates who go on to major in fields of study other than music. We know they will carry and apply lessons learned from their time at Eastman to whatever they choose to do in their lives.
The Eastman Community School is the home of the first New Horizons Music Program which began in 1991 under the guidance of Dr. Roy Ernst, now Professor Emeritus at the Eastman School of Music. It was Dr. Ernst’s firm belief that anyone could learn to play an instrument or sing at any age, and those who had postponed their participation due to career or family responsibilities could easily renew their music skills. So popular was this idea, that the Rochester, New York, program has over 250 members, and over 150 New Horizons organizations exist worldwide. The atmosphere is non-competitive and the emphasis is on the enjoyment of making music together.
Now, after almost twenty years at Eastman, the New Horizons Music program has grown to include: Green Band (beginner), Concert Band (intermediate), Symphonic Band (advanced), Big Band, Full Orchestra, String Orchestra, Green Strings (beginner). Chorus, Sine Nomine (flute choir), Clarinet Ensemble, Saxophone Ensemble, Trombone Ensemble and Brasso Profundo (tuba/euphonium ensemble)!
The Community School offers many other opportunities to adult students beyond those found in New Horizons. Most of our classes and many of our ensembles are open to adult students and many adults choose to study an instrument/voice on a private basis as well. The Community School also teaches many students from the areas colleges and universities.
Music Educators from Western New York
Each year the community school offers an array of mini courses (Link) designed for music educators from the extended area. These courses are offered as teacher development, teacher enrichment courses and frequently satisfy the requirements school districts have for their music faculty. In recent years, the Community School has offered courses such as: Low Brass Review, Classical Guitar for General Music Classes, Woodwind, Brass and Percussion Instrumental Techniques, AP Theory, Vocal Pedagogy, Improvisation and many others.
Besides these mini-courses, the school also has three ensembles designed for area music educators: The Music Educators Jazz Ensemble, the Eastman Chamber Singers. These ensembles also frequently satisfy professional development requirements that area school districts have for their music faculty.
Each summer, for a 6-week period (late June to Early August), the Eastman Community Music School offers approximately 15 programs for students of all ages on the Eastman Campus. Most of our programs are non-residential but a few are residential programs attracting students from all over the country and all over the world. Starting in summer 2013, the community school will run four residential programs for students in grades 7 – 10 at Keuka College on beautiful Keuka Lake in a program called Eastman @ Keuka.
Students who complete an ECMS diploma have immersed themselves in a conservatory-like experience. They are required to take a balance of academic study in theory, history and composition, applied instrumental or vocal study, ensemble and chamber music work, and piano proficiency for non-keyboard players or keyboard theory for keyboard players. The Community Music School offers an array of eight pre-college diplomas:
- The ECMS Diploma is designed to be completed in approximately two years and is offered in two possible majors: Classical instrument or voice and jazz instrument
- The ECMS Advanced Diploma is designed to be completed in approximately four years and is offered in three possible majors: Classical instrument or voice, jazz instrument or music theory
- The ECMS Pre-College Diploma is designed to be completed in approximately six years and is offered in three possible majors: Classical instrument or voice, jazz instrument or music theory
Approximately 250 students are working towards the completion of one of these diplomas at any given time. Official U of R transcripts are maintained for all students and are forwarded at no charge to colleges or universities of the student’s choice. These transcripts show all courses, ensembles and applied study done at the Eastman Community Music School including grades earned.
The Eastman Community Music School is fortunate to be able to offer scholarships to its students through an application process (Link) taking into account both merit and need. The school has named scholarships, which are targeted to specific instruments or voice as well as a general scholarship fund open to all students.
The school is also very fortunate to have a scholarship program targeted to students in the Rochester City School District called the Eastman-Pathways Scholarship. The Eastman-Pathways scholarship is a collaborative program with the Rochester City School District which enables approximately 70 students to attend Eastman for applied and classroom studies.
Finally, let me say that we are proud of our unique heritage, our accomplished graduates, our stellar faculty and an educational experience that can only be found at the Eastman School of Music. We invite you to browse our website and explore who and what we are. We are here to serve you!
Howard Potter, DMA
Associate Dean for Community and Continuing Education
Director of the Eastman Community Music School
Eastman School of Music