Since 1999, La Jolla Music Society’s Community Music Center (CMC) in San Diego’s Southcrest neighborhood has given hundreds of children their first experience in music making. 120 students from over ten area schools are given full scholarships to study music in an area where most families are not able to afford lessons. Feedback from students and parents is immensely positive and often reflects benefits beyond learning of music fundamentals.

Instruction begins at the fourth grade level and is typically a two year program, following which the students are prepared to enter middle school band or orchestra programs. From the first day, students are taught to read music, as well as proper technique and instrument care.  The Community  Music Center employs a paid, part-time staff which includes a director, six instructors and two clerical staff. The CMC offers group instruction in piano, strings, woodwinds, trumpet, guitar, and percussion. Classes meet three times each week, following the academic schedule of the host campus, Cesar Chavez  Elementary School.  The instruction day is split into three classes, allowing study at the beginning, intermediate, and advanced levels.

The program provides each student an instrument which they use for practice at home and in the classroom. At the end of two years of successful study and meeting goals for attendance and musical progression, the students are given the instruments to keep for further study.

The Community  Music Center offers benefits beyond musical instruction.  Letters from parents thank La Jolla Music Society for offering their children lessons in discipline through structured practice, responsibility in caring for the instruments, and enthusiasm for trying new things. The children develop and display remarkable self confidence during semi-annual recitals in front of parents, friends, and school district administrators, as well as supporters of La Jolla Music Society. In a time when students are distracted by media and potentially dangerous after-school activities, the Community Music  Center is recognized as a positive force.

To encourage them to continue in music studies, CMC students are invited to La Jolla Music Society concerts and are encouraged to audition for the San Diego Youth Symphony. The students come to Celebrity Series concerts with their parents and siblings on tickets underwritten and subsidized by La Jolla Music Society. The inspiration that they get from hearing world-class music is carried back to the classrooms, and many of the younger siblings become the next class of CMC students.

The Community  Music Center has been designated as a “model program” by the San Diego Commission for Arts and Culture and has received national recognition by the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities.

The Community Music Center is a magnet program that accepts students from surrounding communities.  Past and current students attend the following campuses:

  • Cesar Chavez Elementary
  • Balboa Elementary
  • Logan Elementary
  • Emerson Elementary
  • Perkins Elementary
  • Sherman Elementary
  • St Jude’s School
  • Memorial Jr. High School
  • Rosa Parks Elementary
  • San Diego High School
  • Our Lady’s School
  • Roosevelt Jr. High
  • San Ysidro Middle School
  • Marvin Elementary
  • Monroe Clark  Middle School
  • O’Farrell Community School

For more information about La Jolla Music Society’s Education Programs, or to donate an instrument to the Community Music  Center, please contact Jonathan Piper, Education Coordinator, at 858.459.3724 or