CMS History | Webster University



In 1925, Edna CMS photo from 1969Lieber, a St. Louis piano teacher, founded the Community Music School, with a faculty consisting of members from the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra. With the guidance of Mrs. Alice Gerdine, the school's Board President in the 1930s, the Community Music School began to grow.

In 1974, the Community Music School merged with the St. Louis Institute of Music to form the Saint Louis Conservatory and Schools for the Arts (CASA). At the same time, the headquarters in University City opened. Originally a temple for over 40 years, the building became the Music School's spacious new home for more than 30 years.  

The conservatory arm of the institution closed in 1989, but the non-degree programs continued to thrive. The school turned its focus to providing the finest music education for students of all ages and abilities. The Suzuki Strings program, and Young Years and Kindermusik classes were established. The Young People's Orchestra and String Training Orchestra expanded to a sequential orchestra and ensemble system.

Serving the St. Louis Region

Leon R. Strauss Center buildingIn 1994, CASA merged with the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra and became the Saint Louis Symphony Community Music School. At this time, the Herbert Hoover Boys and Girls Club branch and the Leon R. Strauss Center – West County branch in Faust Park were opened. In 1996, the Music School opened another branch on the Webster University campus.

In September 2001, the Community Music School joined with Webster University. Webster has a world-class reputation for leadership in the arts, and it provides the in-depth music educational experience and resources needed by the Community Music School. With this alliance, the Community Music School continues to offer outstanding music education to students of all ages and abilities.

New Beginnings

CMS Center buildingIn Fall 2006, the Community Music School moved to its new headquarters on the Webster University campus with facilities that include a concert hall, teaching studios, rehearsal halls, classrooms, and administrative offices.

In Spring 2010, a partnership was formed with the St. Louis Public School District to provide an on-site After School Music Program. McKinley Classical Leadership Academy was the initial site for this program providing affordable, on-site individual lessons to support existing school music programs.

Over the years, the Community Music School has been honored to count such musicians among its faculty as members of the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra, Webster University, and many other colleges and universities as well as some of the most respected performing artists in the region.

Students and alumni have successfully placed in such competitions as the American National Chopin Competition, Artist Presentation Society Competition, Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition, Fite Family Young Artists National Competition, Saint Louis Area Music Teachers Association Young Artist Competition, and the Sphinx Competition, and have gone on to perform and teach around the nation.