ECMS Instrumental and Vocal Curricula

Applied instrumental and vocal study at the Eastman Community Music School is offered on all of the standard orchestral instruments and voice, as well as some folk instruments and non-Western instruments. The curricula listed below have been developed over many years and continue to be works in progress; please check this site for regular updates. Some of our curricula have been in continuous use (with frequent revisions) since the founding of the Preparatory Department of the Eastman School in 1921.

The ECMS curricula reflect the mission and philosophy held by the School and its faculty and have been developed by teachers who

  • Teach students of all age and ability levels
  • Are equally committed to teaching the amateur and the aspiring professional
  • Are dedicated to the pursuit of artistic excellence within a caring, personalized setting
  • Understand that our students come to us with a variety of learning styles, and who are therefore open to implementing a variety of teaching styles

We hope these curricula will challenge and motivate students to become creative, independent musicians and will lead to the pursuit of lifelong enjoyment in music.

The Six Levels

The ECMS has a six-level curriculum for all instruments and voice, developed independently of other well known systems (NYSSMA – New York State School Music Association, ASTA, MTNA, Royal Conservatory of Music, etc.). We believe that a student’s progress depends on a set of comprehensive music skills, and we strive for a deep assessment process at each curricular level: accurately playing a level 5 solo, for example, is not necessarily sufficient to establish a student’s level 5 status. Students must demonstrate all of the required components of that level and they must show that they can do this consistently across the board – on any piece they perform. Each department has specific criteria for examining student growth in technique and musicianship.

We believe that a student’s progress through the ECMS curriculum must be comprehensive and consistent. To allow otherwise is a disservice to our students. A student’s curricular achievement level is determined at juries held at the end of the academic year. (On rare occasions, juries are held in December to determine eligibility for the Honors Jury.) Decimal numbers are sometimes used to indicate that the student is making progress towards the next curricular level, but that there are specific skills which need to be achieved before attaining that level.

Click on your instrument to see its curriculum.

Jazz Department

Drum Set
String Bass

Keyboard Department


String Department

Double Bass