Wisconsin Conservatory of Music: Music Education Transforms Learning!

Organization Information:

Organization Name:
Wisconsin Conservatory of Music
City & State:
Organization Website:
Organization's Mission Statement

The mission of the Wisconsin Conservatory of Music, the oldest and largest non-profit independent music school in the state, is to provide the finest musical education and performance opportunities not only for the aspiring professional performer, but also for all individuals who desire a means of cultural enrichment and self-fulfillment.

Submission Information

Impact Essay

Founded in 1899, the Wisconsin Conservatory of Music is a community school of music dedicated to bringing the recognized benefits of music education to people of all ages and socio-economic status throughout the southeastern Wisconsin area, and providing opportunities for life-long learning. The Conservatory educates approximately 8,000 students each year: 1,900 through tuition-based enrollment; 5,000 through school and community-based programs with 40 schools and organizations; and a music therapy program that serves 1,000 individuals with physical and/or cognitive disabilities annually. Serving the seven counties that comprise southeastern Wisconsin, our diverse student body is made up of 52% minority students, 20% people with disabilities, and a range of ages from four months to ninety years. Merit and need based scholarships provide opportunity for talented and underserved students. The need for Conservatory programs has risen exponentially within the past decade, particularly as a community provider of music education. Budget cuts in public, charter, and independent urban elementary and secondary schools have reduced or eliminated music education from the daily curriculum. Music education supports higher cognitive functions such as logic, reasoning, and problem solving; supports language development by teaching cadence, vocabulary, and pronunciation; and supports overall learning by employing both hemispheres of the brain. The Conservatory provides music instruction for adults, and for children outside of school, and has established residencies in schools, Early Childhood Centers, and after-school programs to serve thousands of children and youth in the Milwaukee area who might otherwise have no opportunities to experience the benefits of music education. In addition to providing music instrument instruction and education at three branch locations and in school/community venues, the Conservatory also offers more than 40 professional chamber music performances, each year in classical, jazz and contemporary genres. Attendance for concerts and student recitals exceeds 11,000 patrons annually. Educationally, the Conservatory is at the forefront of providing instruction in every traditional and contemporary music instrument and style in southeastern Wisconsin. Rock,blues, salsa, rap, R&B, hip-hop, turntablism and jazz has joined opera, classical, and folk as course offerings. The Conservatory also has a full digital recording studio. However, advances in the Conservatory’s business software were not keeping pace with innovations in the music industry. Thanks to TechSoup and Microsoft, all that changed in the spring of 2008. Last May, the gift of operating software and Microsoft Office 2007 from TechSoup allowed the Conservatory to transform its capacity to provide client and patron services, and increase the range and depth of service in southeastern Wisconsin. Outmoded software was creating challenges in student registration, daily administrative operations, marketing, and communications. The software donation resolved technology issues that had the potential to diminish the Conservatory’s ability to reach individuals in our seven-county service area. Registration software. The Conservatory was facing a growing challenge with outdated and increasingly crash-prone student registration management software. Wasted staff time and frustrated clients had become an area of concern. The Conservatory collaborated with a consortium of six independent music schools from around the country to develop a student registration software package. The donation of the new operating software in May 2008 is providing the platform for the new system. This new registration software will increase earned revenue through more user-friendly registration systems; improve staff efficiency by integrating registration with business functions such as billing, and support fundraising activities to increase contributed revenue by allowing the Conservatory to store, manage, and benefit from obtained client data. Administrative efficiency. The software donation successfully addressed the growing challenges caused by an archaic intranet/email system and outmoded office software, which included backup issues, ability to manage complex client data, and software compatibility with external clients. Marketing/Communication opportunities. Another new opportunity provided by the TechSoup contribution, and the registration software it supports, is the ability to handle online registration. The Conservatory is in the process of re-configuring our website to handle online registration and increased traffic. The donation is also providing opportunities to improve contact with existing clients and reach new students and audiences. Since May 2008, the Conservatory has taken advantage of popular social networking platforms Facebook and Twitter to reach out to new audiences via the internet. The individuals who participate in social networking are often ideal candidates for music performance and learning activities. Many are urban children and youth attending schools offering few or no experiences the arts, and would benefit greatly from music education. This generation of students may not be immediately receptive to all genres of music, but the Conservatory now has the potential to introduce music education using new technology and popular contemporary styles of music. The Conservatory is very grateful to TechSoup and Microsoft for the gift of software, which has transformed our business model and capacity to serve. For almost 110 years, the Conservatory has been at the cutting-edge in providing instruction in new music instruments, styles, and technologies (turntablism, recording). Thanks to this wonderful donation of software, our communications and student services are also up-to-date!

Submission Category
Optimize Mission Delivery
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