South West Music School History

How it All Began
In 1992, the founders, Steve Galvan (original executive director), Jerry Bobbe (cello instructor), and Maria Choban (pianist) saw a need for affordable quality music instruction to underserved populations, and began planning. In July 1994, the first South West Music School Board officially convened at Southminster Presbyterian Church in Beaverton, Oregon.

The Early Years
The first program SWMS offered was a summer day camp. The need for this camp was so great at the time, almost 100 students filled the first year’s marching band.
After the Beaverton School District had to cut strings education from elementary schools, SWMS partnered with Suzanne Gaye to start up the Beaverton Strings Program which still continues to this day.
SWMS also offered private lessons for many years, taught by some of the top teachers in the Portland metro area.

SWMS prides itself on being flexible and offering programs that suit the needs of the community it serves. As other organizations stepped in to offer music day camps and individual lessons, SWMS saw enrollment decline in these programs, and discontinued them.
A new opportunity presented itself when Thara Memory, local and international jazz musician asked us to help sponsor his American Music Program. We helped them for a few years until they got their own 501(c)(3) status.
We also started a Math Morph with Orff class, which targeted students hand-picked for low scores on standardized mathematics tests at Title I schools, and taught them math concepts using Orff rhythm instruments.

Financial Needs
The economic downturn has hit arts funding hard. In 2006, SWMS faced a financial crisis that led to a hard decision: either close our doors, or discontinue all programs except for one. Due to strong lobbying from parents, we kept the elementary violin class program alive, and it’s still going strong.

In addition to our elementary violin classes, we have a multi-level orchestra, group cello classes, and starting this year, a middle and high school beginners’ class.

Into the Future
With continued volunteer help, as well as contributions and grants, we hope to continue to bring back programs as they are needed in the community. Click VOLUNTEER to see how you can help.