Kaufman Music Center

K-8 Admissions

Navigation Menu:
1. About the School 
2. School Life and Academics
3. Information Sessions and Tours
4. Assessments and Auditions
5. How do I apply?
6. FAQs

About the School

Special Music School, P. S. 859, is the first and only public elementary school in the United States that combines a full academic program with performance-oriented music training within the regular school day starting in Kindergarten.  The music program includes private instrumental lessons and classes in music theory, history and chorus.  The academic program emphasizes an integrated learning approach that develops problem-solving skills through hands-on cooperative learning experiences. The dedicated staff and faculty are committed to helping each child realize his/her full potential musically, academically, and socially.

The Special Music School is a public/private partnership between the New York City Department of Education and Kaufman Music Center.  As a public school, Special Music School is tuition-free.  The Department of Education, through tax levy funds, provides the academic program and materials, while Kaufman Music Center, through its annual fund-raising efforts, provides each student with a full, merit-based music scholarship.  The School is located in Kaufman Music Center’s facility at 129 West 67th Street, west of Broadway.

School Life and Academics

The school strives for excellence and diversity in all respects and encourages all interested families to schedule their child for an initial assessment. If you feel that the rigorous integrated education offered at Special Music School is consistent with the educational goals you have for your child, you are encouraged to apply, even if you are not certain that your child is musically gifted.

The teachers at Special Music School expect the students to achieve on a high level in both academics and music.  Because of the dual focus of the curriculum, students and their parents should be prepared to work longer and harder towards meeting the educational goals.  Successful continuation at the School is contingent upon consistent progress in all elements of the curriculum, including music classes such as music theory and chorus.

Parental support is essential.  This support includes setting daily time aside to monitor and supervise music practice in addition to providing guidance on academic and music homework assignments.  A music background on the part of either parent is not necessary.

Information Sessions and School Tours

Special Music School holds four Information Sessions for grades K-8 spaced throughout the school year. These hour-long sessions will provide parents with the opportunity to hear about the mission and daily life of the School, and to have many of your questions answered. No reservations are necessary for the Information Sessions. Information sessions for admissions to the 2015-2016 school year will be held:

October 1, 2014 at 6:30 PM 
November 5, 2014 at 6:30 PM
December 3, 2014 at 6:30 PM
January 7, 2015 at 6:30 PM

Unfortunately, because of space and time considerations, tours of the School are not provided. Tours of the School are conducted once an applicant has been provisionally accepted and scheduled for a final interview.

Assessment and Audition Information

For Grades K-2:
Researchers, expert practitioners in early childhood education, and master musicians have worked to develop a reliable and valid measure of musical giftedness for use by Special Music School.  This assessment includes hands-on, interactive musical tasks that focus on the child’s perception and performance.  This assessment attempts to avoid cultural bias and is not dependent on prior music training.  Through direct, systematic observation, data will be collected that will help us to evaluate your child’s musical potential, and his or her ability and desire to participate in an intensive musical program. For more specific information regarding the assessment process, please click here.

For Grades 3-5:
The audition will include prepared pieces, scales, and may include sight reading and a brief ear training test. Students who do exceptionally well on the audition may be invited to interview for the school. Students in grades 4 and 5 will take a diagnostic theory placement exam, which will have no bearing on deciding admissions decisions.

Audition requirements can be found here. As you prepare your application and get ready for the audition, please see our Sample Repetoire List . The sample repertoire list is meant as a reference only.

For Grades 6-8:
The audition will include prepared pieces, scales, and may include sight reading and a brief ear training test. Students who do exceptionally well on the audition may be invited to participate in an improvisation workshop and take a theory placement exam. The theory placement exam is purely diagnostic and will not influence admissions decisions.

Audition requirements can be found here. As you prepare your application and get ready for the audition, please see our Sample Repetoire List . The sample repertoire list is meant as a reference only.

How do I apply?

The preferred method of application is our online forms, found here. If you would like a paper copy of the application, please email smsa@kaufmanmusiccenter, and a copy of the application will be sent for you to fill out.  In addition to the online form, we will also need a copy of your child’s birth certificate for the application to be complete.

Kindergarten:

After receiving your application and a copy of your child’s birth certificate, we will assign your child an assessment time after their fourth birthday. Please be aware that we have a limited amount of assessment space for Kindergartners and can only guarantee to see the first 400 applicants; however, we will continue to accept applications through December 1st, 2014. No applications will be accepted after December 1st, 2014. Applicants who are not among the first 400 applicants will be placed on a waiting list and will be given an assessment if and when space becomes available.

The Academic Teacher Evaluation is available for your child’s teacher to fill out here. The ATE is only necessary if a child passes on to the second round, although it can be filled out at any time. If your child passes on the second round, and we have not received the ATE, we will reach out to both you and your child’s teacher to ensure that we have the form before the date of the Round 2 assessment. If they would prefer a hard copy, we will be happy to supply one.

Grades 1-2:


After receiving your application and a copy of your child’s birth certificate, we will assign your child an assessment time after the application period has been closed on January 15th, 2015. Please be aware that we have a limited amount of assessment space for grades 1 and 2 and can only guarantee to see the first 50 applicants per grade; however, we will continue to accept applications through January 15th, 2015. No applications will be taken after January 15th, 2015. Applicants who are not among the first 50 applicants in their grade will be placed on a waiting list and will be given an assessment if and when space becomes available.

The Academic Teacher Evaluation is available for your child’s teacher to fill out here. The ATE is only necessary if a child passes on to the second round, although it can be filled out at any time. If your child passes on the second round, and we have not received the ATE, we will reach out to both you and your child’s teacher to ensure that we have the form before the date of the Round 2 assessment. If they would prefer a hard copy, we will be happy to supply one.


For Grades 3-8:


After receiving your application and a copy of your child’s birth certificate, we will assign your child an assessment time after the application period has been closed on March 15th, 2015. Applications received after March 15th, 2015 will only be assigned an audition time if space remains.
The Academic Teacher Evaluation and the Music Teacher Evaluation will need to be received before your child’s audition date. If we do not have these documents, we will reach out to you and your child’s teachers to make sure they are received before the date of the audition. If they would prefer a hard copy, we will be happy to supply one.

ADMISSION FAQs

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 more 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 applies.

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 3-8:
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.

Q: My child is not playing at the level of pieces listed in the Sample Repertoire List. Should I still apply?
A: Of course! We look for many qualities in our students, not just their current playing level. However, current skill level is strongly considered when deciding admissions.

Q: My child does not speak English. Can they still participate in the assessment process?
A: We encourage students of all backgrounds to apply. The group assessment for grades K-2 is designed to be non-verbal and many children who do not speak English do very well. The individual assessment is more language based but will be given less consideration for children who do not speak English. However, assessments will ONLY be given in English. There are no exceptions.

Q: My child's birthday does not comply with the NYC Department of Education guidelines. Can I still apply?
A: Once a child has started on an academic path, we will not require them to repeat a grade or switch grades to comply with Department of Education guidelines. Therefore, birth year is mostly unimportant for grades 1-8. However, we strictly comply with NYC Department of Education guidelines for Kindergarten and require all children to be born in the proper birth year. While we respect a parent's decision on when a child is ready to begin school, we must hold to NYC standards to remain as fair as possible. To apply for the 2015-2016 Kindergarten class, all applicants must have been born between January 1, 2010 and December 31, 2010. There are no exceptions. If you were hoping to qualify for Kindergarten, but were born before 2010, you may apply for first grade, as Kindergarten is not a prerequisite in New York state.

Q: I only see instrumental options for the auditions for grades 3-8. Do you allow vocalists to apply?
A: While all of our students participate in chorus and are expected to develop their voices, we do not allow for a vocal concentration until students reach high school.

Q: My student's instrument is not listed on the Suggest Repertoire List. Does that mean my student cannot audition?
A: Of course not! The Suggest Repertoire List is meant only as a guide. We have posted lists for the most common applicants, but we accept virtually any applicants who play an orchestral instrument. If you have specific concerns, please email the Music Education Manager at smsa@kaufmanmusiccenter.org

Special Music School

K-8 MAIN OFFICE:
Tel: 212 501 3318
smsa@kaufmanmusiccenter.org
K-8 ADMISSIONS:
Tel: 212 501 3390
smsa@kaufmanmusiccenter.org

HIGH SCHOOL ADMISSIONS:
Tel: 212 501 3395
SMSHighSchool@kaufmanmusiccenter.org

New York's Creative Home for Listeners, Learners and Performers

KAUFMAN MUSIC CENTER • Goodman House • 129 West 67th Street • New York, NY 10023 • (212) 501-3330