About Us


From the top floor of Essex Town Hall in 1983,  to our current location at Spencer’s Corner in the Centerbrook village of Essex with our new satellite location in East Lyme, CT, Community Music School has been in a constant state of forward and fluid motion. Patricia Hurley, the school’s founder, had a vision to enrich students’ lives with musical opportunities beyond the public school programs. Since its inception as a pilot program in the summer of 1980, the School has grown from five instructors teaching 40 students to 30 instructors teaching over 500 students of all ages.

Our doors officially opened as a non-profit organization in September 1983 and since then we have been dedicated to providing dynamic programs that cover a broad spectrum of musical interests – private and group lessons, instrumental and voice ensembles, orchestras, music therapy, and summer programs, all covering a broad spectrum of musical interests. Each week, students from more than 25 area towns join us for music classes and private lessons.

Why study at Community Music School?

There are many services and opportunities we offer that aren’t available in a home studio or a music store:

  • Our instructors are graduates of music programs at some of the world’s finest colleges and conservatories, and are committed to excellence
  • We are large enough to have a wide selection of programs, yet small enough to meet your individual goals and needs
  • Several family members can study a variety of instruments in one convenient location
  • We are a nonprofit, community-minded organization, often working with schools and other community groups
  • We have well-equipped studios with high-quality pianos
  • We offer financial assistance through our Scholarship Fund
  • Our faculty support and mentor students through regional and state-wide auditions and we offer a Mock Audition Day at no charge to CMS students
  • We offer payment plans and accept credit cards
  • We offer year-round instruction and special summer programs
  • Our students are encouraged to participate in recitals and numerous performance opportunities during the year, such as the CMS Holiday Concert and Song & A Slice Open Mic
  • We offer performing ensembles, open to anyone
  • We host educational workshops, master classes with guest artists, and unique special events
  • Our office staff is dedicated to customer service and your personal attention
  • CMS has a great sense of “community” and will give you opportunities to meet and work with other musicians to reach common goals


To provide a full range of the finest possible instruction and musical opportunities to persons of all ages and abilities, to increase appreciation of music and to encourage a sense of joy in learning and performing, thus enriching the life of the community.


Community Music School is a tax-exempt, 501 (c)3 organization. We are a Silver-level GuideStar Exchange participant, demonstrating our commitment to transparency.



Interested in serving on the Board of Trustees? Click to view CMS Board Expectations. Submit a CMS Board Application for consideration.

Renée Angelini, Vice President

Community Volunteer

Jennifer Bauman

Community Volunteer

Richard Croce

Attorney, R. Richard Croce LLC

Toby Doyle, Jr.

Community Volunteer

Linda Grossman, Governance Chair

Executive Manager, Grossman Chevrolet Nissan

Monique Heller

Human Resources Consultant

Timothy Keyworth, President

Sales Executive, World Trading Corp.

Sarah Kitchings Keenan

Community Volunteer

Bruce Lawrence, Facilities Committee Chair

Partner, Bogaert Construction Co.

Lisa LeMonte

Community Development Officer, Guilford Savings Bank

Melissa Lieberman, Marketing Committee Chair

Facilities & Technology Coordinator, Essex Financial Services

W. Jay Mills, Treasurer

Certified Financial Planner, Morgan Stanley – The Oakley Wing Group

Patrick W. Morris, Finance Committee Chair

Senior Accountant, Guilford Savings Bank

 Heather Surber, Secretary

Retail Merchandiser, Macy’s



Community Music School is very grateful to have an extensive Advisory Council, people whose expertise on a wide range of topics helps us immeasurably. Only a phone call or email away, these community leaders have volunteered their time and wisdom on countless occasions.

Peter Amos

Donita Aruny

Lary Bloom

Stephen Bruce

Kenneth Burgess

Anthony Carrano

William Chatman

Rita Christopher

Herb Clark

Jean Domnarski

Margaret Howe

Stuart Ingersoll

Suzanne Kitchings

Mihae Lee

Mark Pierce

David Rahr

Jeanie Rapp

Carol Ryland

Donna Breen Stamm

Molly Sturges