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Community Music School

Organization Mission

Community Music School of Santa Cruz (CMS) was founded in 1992 as a direct response to the defunding of public school music programs. Our mission is to enrich the lives of students, teachers, professional musicians, and the community through musical education, performance, and appreciation.

We do this by offering music enrichment programs (workshops, camps, and ongoing ensembles for those who already know how to play music), maintain a free online database of music instructors, match donated instruments to young musicians in need, host concerts, and publish a monthly newsletter that highlights music-related events and opportunities in Santa Cruz County.

Our primary genre of music is the folk music of the Celtic diaspora, as well as Americana music. Our focus is on young musicians, and we seek to provide them a continuum of experiences throughout their development.

The Big Idea 2023:
Lessons for Underserved Students

Although arts education is part of California’s Core Curriculum, many elementary school students in our County have little to no music instruction. We want to partner with other educational and nonprofit organizations to offer beginning music lessons as an after-school program. This will help balance the distribution of musical wealth, opportunities, and privileges within our larger community.

Students in this program will not only have weekly music instruction, but will get to keep their chosen instrument (either a melodica or a baritone ukulele) at the completion of the school year. For many participants, the benefits range from educational to inspirational or just plain fun. For others, these programs are life-changing: A number of our teens have gone on to careers as professional musicians and/or instructors.

Community Music School helped me build a lifelong relationship with music, showing me how people make meaningful art together, and how people can find great beauty within themselves through music.


Adam Hendey, Boston, age 29