one of many "Twinkle Gardens" showing the successes of the children
the school's history
Founded in 1997, the Suzuki Music School of Westport has grown from humble beginnings in a church hall to one of the country's largest independant non-profit community music schools dedicated to the teaching of the Suzuki method.
Founded by violinst Becki Christopherson, the school originally occupied the basement of St Paul's Church in Westport, moving premises several times in its early years. It was incorporated as a non-profit 501c3 in 1998 and expanded its faculty to accommodate a growing demand for lessons. By 2000 the school offered lessons in violin, piano, cello, flute, guitar and tots. In 2002 the Board of Directors grew in order to help manage the school's success and in 2003 they appointed Business Manager, Marty Alpert to offer a structure to the school's business model.
In 2005 Dr. Andrew Smith was appointed as the school's Music Director and began the process of combining the school's Suzuki tradition with its mission as a non-profit community music school. Moving to its current location on Post Road in 2005, the school expanded its programs to include an ambitious program of community and school events that have been recognized for their innovative nature and receive support from major music companies.
At the heart of the school's calendar lie programs such the Da Capo Visiting Artist Series - bringing major international artists and teachers to work and perform for our students and the local community - the Pillow Concert Series - offering child friendly concerts in intimate surroundings. These community programs support a variety of student programs that complement the core Suzuki curriculum. SMSW offers fall, spring and summer terms that run in tandem with the Westport school system. Student recitals and concerts take place throughout the year. The school has a fun social calendar in which music is part of every day life. We march in the Memorial Day Parade, we perform at Earthplace, Santa's House, the Bluefish Stadium and in seasonal events such as our "spooky Suzuki concert", a Halloween costume event.
The school became a member of the National Guild of Community Schools of the Arts in 2006 and began a long-term process of self-evaluation, considering "Best Practice Models". At the heart of this self-evaluation was the knowledge that the Suzuki Music School of Westport is unique as one of only a handful of independant non-profit community music schools in the country dedicated solely to Suzuki education.
In 2009 the school and board commissioned its first independant evaluation from, Michael Yaffe, Assistant Dean Yale School of Music.The school made its Carnegie Hall debut in 2007 and made subsequent appearances at Lincoln Center in 2008 and 2009. By 2010 the school's curriculum expanded to include violin, viola, cello, piano, flute, guitar, Music Together, Suzuki Tots, KinderMusik, Music Thoery, Composition, Chamber Music, Ensemble and the newest of the Suzuki core subjects - Suzuki Voice. By 2011 the school's faculty included seven piano teachers, nine violin and viola teachers, three cello faculty, two flute faculty, three guitar faculty, three early childhood faculty and one vocal faculty - making it one of the largest Suzuki Schools of its kind.
In 2011 the school took a number of steps forward. It became host to the Piano Guild of America Auditions. It became the regional host to the Royal Schools of Music Theory Exams. It became a lifetime member of the Suzuki Association of the Americas. It become the home for the Suzuki Association of Southern New England.
In 2012 the School opened a second location at St Barbara's Church in Orange, CT. The new school was formed by families and teachers of the Bethwood Suzuki School. With the creation of a second location the school draws families from New Haven, Litchfield, Hartford and Fairfield Counties as well as Westchester and New York. We invite you to help us create our history - a history we can all be proud of!