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Founded in 1997, the Suzuki Music Schools have 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 Becki Christopherson, the school occupied the basement of St Paul’s Church, Westport, moving several times in its early years. It was incorporated as a non-profit 501c3 in 1998 and expanded to accommodate growing demand. By 2000 the school offered violin, piano, cello, flute, guitar and early childhood music education. In 2002 the Board of Directors grew and in 2003 they appointed Business Manager, Marty Alpert.
In 2005 Dr. Andrew Smith was appointed Director and began combining the school’s Suzuki tradition with its mission as a non-profit community music school. Moving to 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.
At the heart of the school’s calendar lie programs bringing major international artists and teachers to work and perform for students and the local community. These community programs support student programs that complement the core curriculum. Student concerts take place throughout the year. The school has a 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, local businesses, libraries, and retirement communities and in seasonal events such as our “Spooky Suzuki concert”.
The school joined the National Guild of Community Schools of the Arts in 2006 and began a process of self-evaluation, considering “Best Practice Models”. Suzuki Music School of Westport is unique as it is one of only a handful of independant non-profit community music schools in the country dedicated solely to Suzuki education.
In 2009 the school commissioned its first independent 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 curriculum expanded to include Suzuki voice and Suzuki harp.
In 2012 the School opened a second location at St Barbara’s Church in Orange, CT from 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.
The Westport School moved to an 8000 square foot space in downtown Westport in 2018. The Suzuki Music Schools are the regional host to the Royal Schools of Music Theory Exams, the Organizing body of the Connecticut Guitar Festival, home of the Suzuki Association of Southern New England and a lifetime member of the Suzuki Association of the Americas.