History and Mission

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A Brief History

CMS has a rich heritage of sharing the gift of music with the diverse communities of Western New York.

Founded in 1924, CMS was originally called First Settlement Music School. It grew out of Welcome Hall Social Settlement, a south Buffalo facility run by First Presbyterian Church to serve low-income individuals and families. First Settlement Music School was founded by the Chromatic Club and other community leaders.

232 Myrtle Avenue (1924-1935)

The University of the State of New York immediately chartered First Settlement Music School for the “musical education of young people unable to pay standard prices for expert teaching.” In those early days, the School was housed at 232 Myrtle Street in south Buffalo, just a few blocks from where the famed Chef’s Restaurant stands on Seneca Street.

346 Elmwood Avenue (1935-1952)

In 1948, the School was renamed Community Music School of Buffalo to better represent the School’s services, its independent status, the population being served and directions for the future. The School quickly outgrew its original home and several other buildings before to its present location at 415 Elmwood Avenue in 1959.

325 Summer Street (1952-1960)

CMS provides musical instruction to more than 600 people of all ages each year. Nearly 30% are from racially diverse communities, more than three-quarters are children, and more than one-third receive financial assistance through investments from various funding sources.

The CMS Mission

CMS is committed to providing musical public service programs to Western New York and quality music instruction for individuals of all ages and levels of ability regardless of aspirations or financial resources. The professional faculty and administrative staff, together with the volunteers, believe that anyone who has genuine interest in music can benefit from study and deserves the opportunity to pursue it.

Nondiscrimination Policy

CMS admits students of any race, color, gender, national or ethnic origin, religious belief, level of ability, and sexual orientation. CMS does not discriminate on any of these bases in the administration of its policies, scholarships and other programs.