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About SMS High School

Beginning in the fall of 2013, Kaufman Center’s Special Music School (P.S. 859) will expand into the high school grades at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Educational Complex on New York City’s Upper West Side, with a music curriculum that emphasizes the development of the student as a musician for the 21st century. With the establishment of the high school extension, Special Music School (SMS) will be the city’s only K-12 school that teaches music as a core subject.

The school will be unique even among New York’s highly regarded arts high schools in providing talented young musicians the opportunity to pursue serious, pre-professional music studies along with a rigorous academic curriculum. Open to SMS eighth grade graduates as well as students from all five boroughs of New York City, the high school will admit 50 students per grade beginning with ninth grade in 2013-14 school year.

“Kaufman Center’s Special Music School High School will build on the success of the K-8 program and enhance the Center’s ability to provide an unparalleled music education for the next generation of musical leaders,” says Lydia Kontos, Kaufman Center’s Executive Director. “The high school also fills a need for a program that educates musicians for a new paradigm for careers in music.”

“The new high school will update the traditional model of classical music education in order to prepare students for the multifaceted and diverse opportunities available to today’s musicians,” says Jenny Undercofler, Special Music School Music Director. “At a time of rapid change in the professional music world, we are committed to putting our students on a professional music path that will answer the demands of 21st century music.”

In addition to helping students build extremely strong core skills as music makers, SMS High School will prepare them to improvise and compose as well as perform, understand music technology and collaborate with other musicians both in small and large groups while providing meaningful experience working with living composers.

How to apply
Special Music School High School will open in September 2013; applications will be taken beginning in October 2012. Eighth graders from all five boroughs of New York City will be eligible to apply for admission. The application process will include an interview for all applicants. Vocalists and instrumentalists, including pianists, harpists and guitarists, will audition on their instrument/voice. Composers will be required to submit a written or audio version of their work. For application information, please call 212 501 3395 or email Downloadable application forms will be available soon.

About Kaufman Center
Kaufman Center is New York's creative home for listeners, learners and performers. Founded in 1952 as a community school for pre-conservatory music education, today's Kaufman Center is home to Merkin Concert Hall; Lucy Moses School, New York's largest community arts school; and Special Music School, a public school for musically gifted children.



Grades K-8:
Tel: 212 501 3390

High School:
Tel: 212 501 3395

Administrative Offices

Grades K-8:
Tel: 212 501 3318

Grades 9-12:
Tel: 917 441 3692