Turtle Bay Music School starting preschool this fall

BY GABE HERMAN | After moving its home last year into a new building a few neighborhoods south, Murray Hill, the Turtle Bay Music School is preparing for another change as it sets to open a preschool this fall.

The school was founded in 1925 on E. 49th St. It was then at 244 E. 52 St. for 83 years, before moving again last year. It’s now at 330 E. 38th St., on the ground level of The Corinthian, a residential building between First and Second Aves.

The school currently features other programs for very young children, including “Musical Mornings,” for ages 6 months to 4 years, a 90-minute program to introduce children to a preschool environment. There are also group classes for children ages 18 months to 6 years.

Youngsters at the school’s “String Camp” summer program. (Photo by David Katzenstein)

The preschool, for kids ages 2 through 5, starts this September. The first group this fall will have ages 2 through 4, according to Whendy Carter, the preschool’s director.

“A core belief for us is that music shapes minds and hearts,” Carter said at the school recently. She said music is an experience that connects people. “It’s shown to support learning and academics,” she said.

Singing is a universal language, and it is how we all learn the alphabet, she added, noting, “Music has always been a comforting tool in preschool.”

“We’re reintroducing music as a language, to foster development in a way that helps with everything,” explained a school board member, who asked to remain unnamed.

Carter said there is research behind the notion that music can help young children develop better cooperation and other positive behaviors.

A scene from the school in the 1940s. (Courtesy Turtle Bay Music School)

The preschool will have five classrooms, along with 13 practice rooms, each with its own piano. Turtle Bay Music School has a performance hall that holds 161 people, and the little ones will see live music weekly.

“It’s just empowering to have them exposed,” Carter said of the live music. The preschoolers will also perform onstage themselves a few times.

The preschool will emphasize traditional instruments over electronic ones.

It will also offer more than just music, including math and science for the 4-year-olds.

And of course there will be snack time and outdoor play. But the snack time will include listening to classical music, and the hope is to get the kids able to recognize different composers.

A group piano class at the music school. (Photo by David Katzenstein)

Carter trained in fine arts and, in turn, has been training teachers in the arts for years. She has worked at several Manhattan preschools, including founding the Church of the Epiphany Day School on the Upper East Side.

“I’m excited,” she said of the new program, adding, “to start from the ground up is a lot of work.”

There are 12 pupils enrolled so far, out of the program’s goal of 18. Tuition ranges from $11,950 for 2-year-olds for part-time preschool, up to $27,750 for kids ages 3 through 5, for full-time preschool.

Carter feels the school’s musical mission is important, especially since the subject is being cut in so many schools. She said the preschool is part of the place’s overall mission to bring more music to the community, including free events open to the public.

Specialists at the school will drop in daily, to bring a variety of music to the preschoolers, including percussion, vocal development, world music, older traditional music and early rhymes.

“The musicians here are heartfelt people,” Carter said of Turtle Bay Music School. “With children, you really want to help them walk into a room and feel part of a community.”

For more information, visit http://tbms.org/.

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