Following a musical education that began in childhood with dawn ferry rides to violin lessons in the Pacific Northwest, and proceeded through a Master of Music degree at NEC in 1938, Frances Brockman Lanier (Mrs. Sterling Lanier) (1914–2000) joined with Virginia Bacon in 1950 to launch a preparatory program, initially called “Music for Children,” at New England Conservatory.
By the time Frances Lanier turned leadership of the Prep over to A. Ramon Rivera in 1975, she had built up a thriving program that enrolled eight hundred students. In 1992 the Conservatory awarded her an honorary Doctor of Music degree. Though her health prevented her from attending the Prep 50th Anniversary celebration in November 1999, Lanier was very much involved in its planning and followed it closely from her home in Virginia as the weekend unfolded.
Mark Churchill, Dean Emeritus of NEC Preparatory and Continuing Education, remembers Frances Lanier as “the visionary woman who brought the NEC Preparatory School to life and led it for its first 25 years. There is not one of us who hasn’t received from her a profound understanding of the power of music to enrich and uplift lives. Her philosophy of teaching could be summed up with the statement: Care for the individuality in each student, understand that everything is possible, and know that each child studying music deserves the most skillful and artistic teaching possible. For her, the teaching of children was the most elevated of all musical professions.”
Donations in Frances Lanier's memory may be sent to the Frances B. Lanier Scholarship Fund, New England Conservatory, 290 Huntington Avenue, Boston MA 02115.