Each year, Kaufman Center's Special Music School accepts a new kindergarten class of 15 pupils. Depending on class sizes, we may also offer places for students in grades 1–8. Prospective pupils are assessed by musical professionals in both group and individual auditions.
The Special Music School admissions process is open to all interested students who reside in NYC and meet the age requirements stipulated by the Department of Education.
Send an application form to our Admissions Associate, together with a copy of your child's birth certificate (applications cannot be processed without it). A photocopy of the birth certificate is sufficient. Application forms will be available soon.
You will be notified of your child’s test date and time approximately two weeks before the date. Testing for kindergarten normally stretches from late October until mid-February.
The Special Music School is currently accepting applications for the 2014-2015 school year.
Before You Apply
We encourage prospective pupils and their guardians to visit us at an information session or attend a public concert before applying to be accepted. No reservations are needed. We are unable to offer tours of the school due to the large number of applicants.
2014–15 Information Sessions
Open House Meeting dates during the 2013 – 2014 academic year are as follows:
October 2 for grades K-8
November 6 for grades K-8
December 4 for grades K-8
January 15 for grades K-8
Each Information Session is scheduled from 6:30 – 7:30 PM. They will all be held in the Molly Goodman Gallery, on the second floor of Kaufman Center, at 129 West 67th Street. You will have an opportunity to learn about the academic and music programs offered at the School. Unfortunately, we cannot offer tours unless your child is accepted into the School. The Information Session is an informational meeting for parents only; no childcare is provided. You will not need a reservation to attend.
Are you eligible?
To be eligible for Special Music School, a student must:
• reside of the five boroughs of New York City
• be entering grade K–8 (starting at kindergarten level is recommended)
• exhibit strong musical potential
• have parents who are committed to their child's music program and who have time to support daily after-school music practice
Q: What do you look for when you seek children who are musically gifted?
A: We look for many things, including accurate pitch, good rhythm, musical memory and engagement in music.
Q: My child hasn't had any formal musical training. Can we still apply?
A: For grades K–2, yes; one of our goals is to offer our training to every gifted child, regardless of prior training. For grades 3 and up, we ask every child to audition on an instrument. For grades 4 and up, applicants also take a theory placement test to ensure they can keep up with their returning peers.
Q: I don't live in school district 3; is my child eligible to apply for the school?
A: Yes. Any student living within the five boroughs of New York City is eligible.
Q: Does Special Music School have a high school?
A: Yes. SMS expanded into the high school grades at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Educational Complex in thein the fall of 2013. Click here for information.
Q: If my child applied the previous year and did not get accepted, is his/her application valid for the following year?
A: Applications for Special Music School must be completed and filed for each year that the child auditions.
Q: Can you describe the assessment process?
A: Grades K–2:
The first round of assessment features two different activities which take place on the same day. In small groups, children take a 25-minute music "class" in which they are asked to sing, clap and move to music. In addition, each child is given a short, one-on-one individual assessment.
Children who score above a certain level on these two tests are called back for a lengthier individual assessment, after which they will be either accepted or not accepted to the school, or placed on a "delayed decision" list. Children on the "delayed decision" list may be asked to re-test toward the end of the assessment process.
Children scoring below a certain level on the first round of tests will not be asked to continue. While we recognize that there are many factors that may affect a child's performance on a given day, and that children who are not recommended for advancement to the next level may be deeply talented, it is our policy not to re-test children at any level except in truly exceptional circumstances.
Grades 3 and up:
Candidates for the upper grades will be asked to play 3 or 4 pieces on their instrument and to play scales and arpeggios. They will also be asked to take a written theory test, a short ear-training test involving singing and a short sight-singing test. Audition requirements vary according to the grade level, so feel free to contact us to discuss auditions.