Beginning in the 19th century — The field of community arts and music education emerged from the settlement houses of the 1880s and 1890s. Settlement houses provided programs helping newly arrived immigrants adjust to their new country. Many were committed to providing arts programming for immigrant children. The most famous of these was Hull House in Chicago founded by Jane Addams. Some community music schools still bear the word “settlement” in their names (Cleveland, Philadelphia, Third Street NYC). Over time, the field expanded and grew more professionalized. Today, there are hundreds of community arts schools in the US, including PCM.
Mt Olive Lutheran Church
1984–1991 — Two piano teachers, Silke Sauppe and Wynne Stone, founded PCM in 1984, renting space from a small church on Allen Avenue where Sauppe was the organist. Stone visited numerous community music schools around the country to prepare for launching PCM. The eight founding instructors supplied remarkable musical and pedagogical gravitas in Western Classical Music (the school’s core), and soon enrollment grew to 400 students.
1991–2001 — After eight years, the time had come to find a new home and to change the co-founder model. In September 1991, PCM moved to a rented house on Atchison Street. Soon after, an outside Executive Director was hired. In the ensuing decade, programs expanded, enrollment grew to 1,000, and an additional space was rented. It was time for the board to find a permanent home for the school.
100 North Hill Avenue
2001–2011 — In 2000, PCM launched its first capital campaign. Music Matters raised $3 million and allowed the school to acquire a permanent home. In September 2001, PCM moved to 100 North Hill Avenue in central Pasadena. In preparation for accreditation, a more formal instructional structure was introduced, including the creation of discrete program departments led by appointed department chairs (piano, strings, guitar, etc.). The preschool music program (Young Musicians) and music history/appreciation courses for adults (introduced in 2006) were stand-out bookends for the breadth of programs. Enrollment expanded to 1,200. Accreditation was achieved in 2008.
130 North Hill Avenue
2011–2021 — In 2010, PCM launched its second capital campaign. Milestones raised $8 million and enabled the school to acquire the adjacent property at 130 North Hill and implement significant renovations to the facilities at 100 North Hill, including the creation of PCM’s signature performance venue Barrett Hall. The Jazz Studies Department was launched in 2012 to attract new constituencies. Accreditation was renewed in 2014. A discrete Adult Studies Department was launched in 2018. Mariachi Pasadena! was introduced in 2019 as a first step to eventually creating a World Music Department. Enrollment grew to a high of 1,500. In March 2020, the Covid-19 pandemic closed the campus and suspended many ensemble-based programs. PCM shifted to virtual programs and operations.
2021 and into the future — Our current priorities include rebuilding programs suspended or diminished by the pandemic and resuming the next phase of the campus development masterplan. In the summer of 2021, PCM launched its third capital campaign. Common Ground aims to raise $11 million, to create a new learning center and outdoor amphitheater. A highlight of the new learning center is the creation of purpose-built spaces for group and ensemble programs, including young musicians classes, adult ensembles, world music ensembles, and a music technology lab—all priorities in the school’s plans to expand the breadth and depth of its offerings.