Church Street School for Music and Art is the only nonprofit community school for the arts in lower Manhattan, committed to providing high-quality art and music programs for diverse students of all ages, abilities, race, gender, sexual orientation, religious and socioeconomic backgrounds.  A long-standing community resource dedicated to public programming and outreach, the school specializes in facilitating the physical creative process, and strives to connect each student with their unique artistic voice. We believe in the transformative and therapeutic power of the arts and are dedicated to providing accessibility to the arts for all. 

Photo Credit: Carl Glassman, Tribeca Trib


CSSMA was founded in 1990, in a small loft at 311 Church Street, (right around the corner from our current home on 41 White Street), by Lauri Bailey and Dr. Lisa Ecklund-Flores. Lauri & Lisa brought deep knowledge of education, musicianship, child-development and music therapy to their venture. The school was founded on the deep belief in the transformative power of the arts.

Their goal was to offer a safe space for students of ALL ages, no matter their background or abilities, to experience high quality arts programming that focused on individual students’ hands-on experience.

With great community response, the student body, teaching faculty and program offerings grew and grew over the years, requiring a move, an expansion and eventually a relocation to our current 41 White St. location. ​

CSSMA remains the only not-for-profit community school for the arts in Lower Manhattan. Through the years, over 20,000 students have come through our doors. With all of the extreme complexities life is throwing our way, it is of the utmost importance that resources for self expression and development through the arts are preserved and strengthened. Thank you for being a part of our CSSMA Community that continues to grow!

Experiential Learning

In our experiential-learning based programs, we believe learning happens through open-ended creation that allows for random occurrences, improvisation, and exploration. Our classes focus on the individual student’s interests and curiosity while encouraging experimentation and play. Our focus on process celebrates the creative genius of children, empowering them and building confidence that stretches beyond the art studio.

As children mature, our programs gradually incorporate instruction in the more technical aspects of art-making, but always with the emphasis on developing the individual’s unique artistic process.

The Dalcroze Method & Music Education

Church Street School’s music classes incorporate The Dalcroze Method, a whole-body music education technique created by a Swiss composer, musician and educator in the early twentieth century.

“I know, because I have experienced.” Emil Jaques-Dalcroze used these words to describe the fundamentals of his method. Rhythm is best understood when it is directly experienced as it is taught. It begins with the natural rhythms of human life – breath, heart, steps.

The Dalcroze Method is geared to all ages and levels of ability. It is ideal for the youngest child because classes are highly physical and upbeat, the way young children learn best. It is also an acclaimed alternative to traditional methods of learning music theory for older children and adults. Read more about the the Dalcroze method here!