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Music Conservatory of Westchester Keeps Music Playing During Pandemic

(White Plains, NY) Don’t stop the music! Social distancing can’t keep musicians from making and sharing music – even from afar. Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, the Music Conservatory of Westchester is keeping the music playing by offering private lessons online with its expert, accredited faculty. As the Conservatory is a member of the National Association of Schools of Music (NASM), all of its teachers are trained in their instrument with exceptional educational and performance credentials in order to meet the highest standards.

“Our faculty are what differentiate us from everyone else. Also, our expert staff who can guide new students to the right course of study and teacher choice,” says Conservatory Executive Director, Jean Newton.

While New York State seems closed for business and schools are moving to online learning, this nonprofit community music school is continuing everybody’s music study via interactive video platforms such as Zoom, Skype, and FaceTime. By persisting through these circumstances with virtual lessons, students and teachers have the opportunity to continue making progress as well as regain a sense of normalcy with their weekly lesson schedules.

“Lessons (virtual or in-person) with an experienced and well-adapted teacher is the key to have a systematic learning process and therefore increase the success rate for learning,” says Associate Dean for Student Services, Song Gonzalez.

Gonzalez adds that there is more to music lessons than just learning to play the instrument. “A good teacher provides not only the expert knowledge and appropriate instruction for that specific student, but also encouragement, inspiration, motivation, as well as appropriate discipline needed for the learning to be successful. In most cases, that mentorship extends beyond the student to include parents/other family members as well.”

The transition to online music education has been smooth for the Conservatory and its students. Feedback from parents, students, and teachers has been positive.

“I feel this is helping [my daughter] to spend more time on her piano at home, and it will help her to be comfortable playing her piano, which I think will lead to her spending more time practicing,” one Conservatory parent said of the adjustment to virtual lessons. “I believe there will be some long-term benefits with this new program, and there will be a silver lining despite the dark skies of the pandemic.”

The Conservatory, which celebrated its 90th anniversary in 2019, is adapting its teaching approach to 21st Century technology in more ways than one. Plans to build five new technology-based teaching spaces in its Central Avenue building by 2021, including a recording studio, digital piano lab, music therapy studio, are in the works. Westchester’s pre-college recording engineering program is a highly-anticipated feature reflecting the future of music education.

“Music has always been a source of inspiration, joy and comfort in all types of circumstances,” Newton says. “It is especially important in times of crisis. Music brings people together, and in today’s world we’re so lucky to have the capacity to do this even if we can’t all be in the same room.”

As the Music Conservatory of Westchester continues to innovate in the changing teaching landscape, the renowned music school aims to always keep the music playing.

The Music Conservatory of Westchester was founded in 1929 by a group of community members and renowned artists. Today, the Conservatory provides the extraordinary benefits of music to all in our community, from absolute beginners to advanced artists, with one-on-one instruction, performing ensembles, theory, composition, early childhood classes, lifelong learning for adults, and free community performances, serving 2,800 students each year from 4 months to over 80 years old. As a not-for-profit organization, the Conservatory is dedicated to serving the community and reaching out to those who would not otherwise have access. Our Scholarship Program provides tuition assistance for financially deserving students. The Music Therapy Institute brings music into the lives of 2,000 children and adults with disabilities each year through on-site and outreach programs. Healing Our Heroes offers military veterans a specialized music therapy program to help with recovery after their service. The Conservatory has inspired generations of students, and contributed to a vibrant musical life in the county, the region, and beyond. www.musicconservatory.org