Music in Schools Initiative

About the Music in Schools Initiative

Our Mission

In keeping with the Yale School of Music’s commitment to cultural leadership and service to society, the Music in Schools Initiative was established in 2007 to explore how music can foster social change in New Haven and beyond.


The Beginning

Since its founding, the Yale School of Music has maintained close relationships with the University and the Greater New Haven community. Important regional musical institutions, including the New Haven Symphony Orchestra and Neighborhood Music School, have their origins in the efforts and influence of School of Music faculty. In the 1970s, the School’s “Conservatory without Walls” initiative, led by professor Willie Ruff, brought great jazz artists into the New Haven Public Schools.

Yale College Class of 1957

It was at the intersection of “town and gown” that the Music in Schools Initiative was envisioned and conceived. In honor of its 50th reunion in 2007, the Yale College Class of 1957 gave the School an endowment with which “to promote music education in public elementary and secondary school in the United States.” The Class called for a visiting professorship, a biennial symposium, the preparation of teaching artists, and “the continuation of the School of Music’s involvement with music education in public schools in New Haven.”

New Haven Public Schools

The Music in Schools Initiative began its partnership with the New Haven Public Schools at the Lincoln-Basset Community School, providing support for music instruction, instruments, and teachers. As the program grew, the School began sending teaching artists to schools throughout the district and hosting out-of-school activities, ensembles, and festivals. In 2007, the inaugural Symposium on Music in Schools recognized outstanding public school music teachers. The Initiative’s first visiting faculty appointment was made in 2008. Throughout these years of growth, Yale College Class of 1957 has remained deeply connected with the Initiative as friends and advisors.

Morse Summer Music Academy

In 2010, the New Haven program expanded to include a free summer intensive, the Morse Summer Music Academy, which is supported by a generous endowment from Enid and Lester Morse (Yale College ’51). The John Miller Instrument Fund awards instruments to dedicated students. A gift by Mr. and Mrs. Morse in 2017 established the Morse Postgraduate Fellowship, which allows a graduating teaching artist to continue working with the Music in Schools Initiative.

Symposium on Music in Schools

As community programming has expanded, so has the Symposium on Music in Schools, which has contributed significantly to discussions about national music education policy. At the 2017 Symposium on Music in Schools, 43 experts helped craft what became the Declaration on Equity in Music for City Students, which calls for “every student in every city in America to have access to an active music life.” This Declaration continues to impact discussions about the role music plays in urban education.

More about Music in Schools

Meet the visiting faculty of the Music in Schools Initiative and ways in which you can support the Initiative.

Visiting Faculty

Since 2007, the School of Music, through the Music in Schools Initiative, has supported a faculty member who teaches a course focused on community engagement and social change.  

Support Music in Schools

Contact us to find out more about how you can support the Music in Schools Initiative.