Wynne and Silke had been teaching Suzuki piano at the Claremont Community School of Music (and were tired of the long commute), when Wynne decided to start a music school in Pasadena and Silke took up the challenge and joined in. With their husbands, Norman Sauppé and “Rocky” Stone, they planned their new school around the Sauppés’ dining room table, an enterprise that would take vision, energy, and shoe-leather. Over the next year, they found the school’s first home at Mount Olive Lutheran Church on Queensberry Road and Allen Avenue, where Silke was the organist, and where Rocky canvassed the neighbors on whether they would mind having a music school nearby. They hired a secretary and registrar, and distributed advertising flyers, printed on Norman’s home computer, to schools, libraries, and music stores. In the summer, Wynne traveled around the country, studying other community music schools, particularly how they operated and how they got their funding.
Charlotte Zelka, one of the first faculty members, added a fine grand piano to Mount Olive’s collection of church “clunker” pianos and also contributed her connections in the music world far beyond Pasadena: the Schnabel Piano Duo visited annually to perform and conduct master classes, Ernst Krenek celebrated his eighty-fifth birthday at PCM, and Nicolas Slonimsky entertained his young audience by playing the piano backwards while lying on the floor. By the end of its first year, the Conservatory was teaching 150 students and had tripled the size of its faculty. The school continued to thrive during those early years, which were characterized by exuberance, fun, and freedom to innovate. When, in 1991, the time had come to find a new home, Wynne and Silke relocated the school to Atchison Street (behind Westminster Presbyterian Church).
PCM is accredited by the Accrediting Commission for Community and Precollegiate Arts Schools and is an accredited institutional member of the National Association of Schools of Music. It also belongs to the National Guild for Community Arts Education and is a member of the Pasadena Arts Council. It hosts a vibrant outreach program and provides master classes, guest-artist recitals, and concerts for the Pasadena community and beyond.