Special Music School High School
“It's a great and friendly environment. It's like this secret society young musicians
in high school have been looking for, and it’s here.”
– SMS High School Student, Class of 2017
The opening of the Special Music School High School is "a milestone in a growing national movement to re-evaluate how classical music is taught, and to what end."
– The Wall Street Journal
Welcome to Special Music School High School at Kaufman Music Center (PS 859), a groundbreaking NYC public school for musically gifted children. This is an exciting year as we’re celebrating the 20th anniversary of the school’s founding, welcoming our first senior class, the Class of 2017. We’re glad you’re interested in learning more about us and hope we get to meet you at an open house, hear your audition and maybe have you join us as a student!
The mission of Kaufman Music Center's Special Music School (SMS) is to develop students who have the skills, competencies and knowledge necessary for successful 21st-century music careers. The 21st-century musician can analyze, compose, and perform music at the highest level; has a strong sense of his/her own artistic “voice,” and is fluent in current music technologies. The 21st-century musician possesses the academic knowledge, skills, and habits that are keys to success in a rapidly changing world; he/she is also community-minded, inventive, and resourceful.
Founded in 1996 and inspired by the “spetsshkola” system of the former Soviet Union, Special Music School is a unique partnership between the New York City Department of Education and Kaufman Music Center, a not-for-profit cultural organization. The Department of Education funds the general academic portion of the students’ education, while the music program and curriculum is funded by donations through Kaufman Music Center.
One of the highest achieving schools in New York City Public Schools, Special Music School High School is a diverse community drawing students from all five boroughs. Our students are 16% Asian, 14% African American, 14% Hispanic, 13% Other, 43% Caucasian.
A small and individually focused learning environment, our unique approach provides talented young musicians the opportunity to pursue serious, pre-professional music studies along with a rigorous Regents-based academic curriculum all during the regular school day. Students work one-on-one, in small classes, and in ensemble rehearsals with internationally recognized music faculty. Courses offered explore music theory, history, technology, entrepreneurship and other skills needed by a well-rounded 21st-century musician all with a focus on performance.
"Music is as vital as reading and math. At a time when access to arts education in schools is sadly shrinking, Kaufman Music Center is expanding, bringing music into the lives of increasing numbers of kids from diverse communities throughout New York City."
– Joshua Bell
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