Third Street Music School to celebrate 120th anniversary with $5.3M face-lift

A rendering shows Third Street Music School after a two-year project that will include work to make the building’s facade more attractive, as well as making the building more modern inside with a state-of-the-art auditorium and a recording studio.

A rendering shows Third Street Music School after a two-year project that will include work to make the building’s facade more attractive, as well as making the building more modern inside with a state-of-the-art auditorium and a recording studio.

By Sabina Mollot

The Third Street Music School Settlement, which has been in the midst of a busy year celebrating its 120th anniversary, now has another thing to celebrate — a $5.3 million renovation. The project, which is scheduled to begin this summer, will include a state-of-the-art auditorium, a newly built ensemble practice and performance space and an adjoining recording studio.

The plan, which is already 80 percent funded, will also include an expansion to the school’s lobby and an additional staircase which will also serve to make the front of the building, currently marred by fire escapes, more attractive with some glass paneling, allowing those on the street a view inside. There will also be a new elevator installed.

“We’ve reached a point where we needed more space,” said Valerie Lewis, the school’s executive director, during a recent conversation at her office. “The demand for our programs continues to grow.”

At this time, there are close to 4,000 students at Third Street, with 1,700 of them enrolled in onsite programs. The rest learn at offsite locations around the city through partnerships with 25 other schools.

However, the school has needed upgrades at its building, located on East 11th Street between Second and Third Avenues, for a while. Originally part of the St. Mark’s Hospital complex, where nurses were housed, the building has two dates on its cornerstone, 1890 and 1926. Its current elevator is the original one, and is a “traction” elevator, meaning it uses steel rope, and is considered a freight elevator that can carry up to 3,000 lbs. The plan to renovate came out of a number of needs voiced by students and their families, in particular the recording studio, which will be located in the building’s sub-basement. Lewis noted how it’s become increasingly common for conservatories and competitive high schools – and even competitive middle and elementary schools — to require students to provide a high quality recording as part of an audition process. In addition to being able to provide that service onsite, Lewis noted that the studio will also be helpful in teaching students about subjects like sound engineering and re-mastering. She’s also mulling the possibility of putting out a Third Street album of music.

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Third Street Music School anniversary celebrated with concert on 120 pianos

Students perform in a building-wide concert at the Third Street Music School Settlement on Saturday. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

Students perform in a building-wide concert at the Third Street Music School Settlement on Saturday. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

The oldest community arts school in the country celebrated its 120th anniversary this past weekend with what it does best: music. Third Street Music School Settlement, which has actually been on East 11th Street since the 1970s, has been offering various celebratory events for the occasion in the last few weeks. Last Saturday, 120 pianists participated in a 15-minute concert, with kids, parent volunteers and faculty members alike playing Pachelbel’s Canon throughout the building’s hallways and rehearsal rooms.

Piano department chair Joan Forsyth, who came up with the idea for the building-wide performance, said that they ended up having even more people show up on top of those that had registered so it was actually more than 120 students participating, but spots were found for everyone.

“We were running around and pulling keyboards out of closets but everyone had a good time,” she said.

Executive director Valerie Lewis said that there were students as young as six who participated, but among the adults, aside from faculty and parents, were some of the school’s older students. Ray Sauerbrey started taking classical lessons about five years ago and recently came to Third Street for lessons because his previous teacher retired.

“It’s hard to get into a music school without classical training but (Third Street) welcomed me with open arms,” he said. “It isn’t a conservatory, it’s a community-based school and they turn away practically nobody.”

Sauerbrey noted that Third Street made it easy for all students to participate in the holiday festivities.

“They broke the Canon into pieces so it was manageable, like they do with everything else,” he said. “They reach out to your ability.”

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Letters to the Editor, Jan. 3

Weekly cartoon by Jim Meadows (jimtoon.com)

Weekly cartoon by Jim Meadows (jimtoon.com)

A bit of feedback

Dear T&V,

Steven Sanders’ article, “Obama’s cure for the common cold” in the opinion section of the Dec. 5, 2013 issue was exceptionally funny and insightful.

I don’t know what’s happened to movie critic Seth Shire, who I’ve always enjoyed. However, judging by four of his movie reviews, Michael Phillips is pretty good and very funny.

I am grateful that you thought my letter to you about my visit to Stuyvesant Town was worth printing in “The Soapbox” of your the Dec. 5, 2013 issue.

I love that the Third Street Music School is on 11th Street. Thank you, NYC.

To Sabina and Maria, it finally just hit me how many articles you two write every week! Where would T&V be without you? (It would be about six pages, mostly ads and columns and a couple of letters.)

Dear Mr. Kilik, your review of “Soul Doctor” was wonderful and I’m dying to see it but I’m here in Minneapolis. But you sure made it come alive in your terrific column.

Dear Mr. Hagedorn, you’ve done it again with your article in the October 3, 2013 article, “Subway grates: Urban Artifacts.” God, I love your column.

Most sincerely,

Richard Luksin
Minneapolis, MN

P.S. I’d give anything to go on one of Alfred Pommer’s (historical walking) tours.
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