Conservatory Lab Charter School

The Conservatory Lab Charter School (CLCS) was chartered in 1999 out of the desire of two New England Conservatory faculty members to advance urban education. Over 14 years, the School has evolved into a pioneering Boston public charter school that fuses music and academics into a groundbreaking curriculum, Learning Through Music. Its disciplined music study program and inquiry approach propel students to develop indispensable qualities that drive lifelong success: persistence, discovery, hard work, and the joy of learning.

In the 2010-2011 school year the Conservatory Lab took a giant step forward to build on its success in music education and deepen its impact on students by extending the school day from 2:30 to 5:30 pm and implementing El Sistema, an intensive, ensemble-focused music education program designed to effect social change and nurture promising futures for underserved communities. The program's inaugural directors were Rebecca Levi and David Malek, from the first class of NEC's Sistema Fellows. Today, with a resident artist staff numbering 15 (including several NEC graduate students or alumni), El Sistema has become a defining force in CLCS's school culture, significantly increasing students’ musical and individual skill development and contributing to their excitement for school and learning overall.

Every day, over 300 lottery-chosen students arrive by bus from inner-city Boston neighborhoods, including Roxbury, Hyde Park, Dorchester, and Mattapan. Nearly 70% of these students qualify for free or reduced-priced meals; 15% are identified as special needs and/or require a 504 plan; and 22% are English Language Learners. Conservatory Lab’s diverse student body, representing the city’s rich cultural and linguistic heritages, is at a Level 1 school – the highest performing category in Massachusetts.

NEC currently interacts with CLCS through the Music-in-Education department and the Community Performances and Partnerships Program.