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MUSICAL ARTS CONSERVATORY OF WEST TEXAS

MUSICAL ARTS CONSERVATORY OF WEST TEXAS. The Musical Arts Conservatory of West Texas, in Amarillo, was organized in 1929 as a private, coeducational institution offering courses from kindergarten to the fourth year of college. Previously, no institutional music education had been available in the Panhandle. Gladys M. Glenn, who served for many decades as the school's director, was the leading organizer, and James O. Guleke was on the first board of associate directors. The conservatory, following the guidance of the National Association of Music Schools, was accredited in 1939 by the State Board of Education, and its credits were accepted by all colleges with music departments. It was a charter member of the Texas Association of Music Schools and was incorporated in 1939; its first permanent home on Tyler Street was purchased in 1940.

During the conservatory's peak years, from 1950 to 1967, the faculty increased to twenty-two and the student enrollment to 600. In the late 1960s the school maintained a musical kindergarten, had elementary, junior high, and high school courses, and maintained a four-year college course leading to the B.Mus. degree and the B.F.A. degree in ballet. Over the years many of Amarillo's finest music teachers taught at the institution, and many world-renowned artists came as guest instructors. Several alumni of the ballet department, directed by Peggy Norman (beginning in 1961), went on to win scholarships in universities and the New York City Ballet.

The library contained several hundred volumes—books, music, and music and art magazines—as well as hundreds of recordings. Twenty-eight studies and two recital halls were available for conservatory activities. After 1970 the Musical Arts Conservatory concentrated on precollege students because by then most colleges had better music curricula as well as lower tuition. Competition from other private music schools also contributed to the decline of the institution, which closed around 1975.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: 

Clara Thornhill Hammond, comp., Amarillo (Amarillo: Autry, 1971; 2d ed., Austin: Best Printing, 1974).

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"MUSICAL ARTS CONSERVATORY OF WEST TEXAS," Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/kbm34), accessed February 10, 2016. Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.