SMS High School
In the fall of 2013, Kaufman Music Center’s Special Music School (P.S. 859) expanded into the high school grades at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Educational Complex on New York City’s Upper West Side, with a music curriculum that emphasizes the development of the student as a musician for the 21st century. With the establishment of the high school extension, Special Music School (SMS) is the city’s only K-12 school that teaches music as a core subject.
The school is unique even among New York’s highly regarded arts high schools in providing talented young musicians the opportunity to pursue serious, pre-professional music studies along with a rigorous academic curriculum. Open to SMS eighth grade graduates as well as students from all five boroughs of New York City, the high school admits 50 students per grade, for a total enrollment of 200 students when all grades are accepted in the 2016-2017 school year. Currently, the school enrolls approximately 150 students in grades 9-11.
“Kaufman Music Center’s Special Music School High School will build on the success of the K-8 program and enhance the Center’s ability to provide an unparalleled music education for the next generation of musical leaders,” says Lydia Kontos, Kaufman Music Center’s Executive Director. “The high school also fills a need for a program that educates musicians for a new paradigm for careers in music.”
“The new high school will update the traditional model of classical music education in order to prepare students for the multifaceted and diverse opportunities available to today’s musicians,” says Jenny Undercofler, Special Music School Music Director. “At a time of rapid change in the professional music world, we are committed to putting our students on a professional music path that will answer the demands of 21st century music."
In addition to helping students build extremely strong core skills as music makers, Special Music School High School prepares them to improvise and compose as well as perform, understand music technology and collaborate with other musicians both in small and large groups while providing meaningful experience working with living composers.