The Conn Conservatory of Music at Elkhart, Indiana: 1896-1903

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The purpose of this study was to document the history of the Conn Conservatory of Music operated by the C. G. Conn musical instrument company of Elkhart, Indiana. Research questions focused on the school’s origin, curriculum, pedagogy, faculty, and students. Instrument manufacturer Charles G. Conn opened The Conn Conservatory in 1896 to boost the sale of instruments and fill the need for an institution devoted to training musicians for the increasing number of bands in the United States. Although the student population never attained the size for which the managers hoped, the Conservatory attracted students from across the United States who came to study with Jules Levy (cornet), Edward A. Lefebre (saxophone), and other prominent members of the faculty. In addition to class and private lessons, students at the Conservatory studied harmony and instrumentation as they worked toward medals and diplomas at advancing levels of proficiency. Administrators eventually expanded the curriculum to include piano, voice, orchestral strings, and popular instruments such as the guitar to attract local residents and generate additional income. The school closed in early 1903, probably because of the loss of its most famous faculty members and a dwindling student population.


This article was published in Journal of Historical Research in Music Education, volume 38, issue 1, 25-44, September 19, 2016,