In 1907, William S. MacPhail, an original member of the Minneapolis Symphony (now the Minnesota Orchestra), established the MacPhail School of Violin in Minneapolis. Due to the overwhelming popularity of its programs, including music history and harmony classes, the school expanded its offerings. As the newly named MacPhail School of Music and Dramatic Art, the school continued to grow and soon needed a larger home.
MacPhail moved to a new four-story facility located at 1128 LaSalle Ave. in Minneapolis. With the larger space, MacPhail saw increased community interest and soon expanded to offer college degrees. Among the graduates of MacPhail’s class of 1927 was a young man whose musical dream would soon become a part of American culture – Lawrence Welk. After World War II MacPhail’s enrollment grew. Along with violin and classical instruction, MacPhail offered courses in popular styles of music, such as jazz, to reach a wider range of students.
MacPhail at the University of Minnesota
With a faculty of more than 100 and a student body of more than 3,000, the responsibility of running the institution had increased. By 1966, four years after the death of William MacPhail, the MacPhail family gifted the MacPhail College of Music to the University of Minnesota. Under the University’s administration, the name was changed to MacPhail Center for the Performing Arts.
During its tenure with the University, program directors created revolutionary curricula for young children. In the late 1960s, MacPhail introduced an Early Childhood Arts program and one of the nation’s first Suzuki Talent Education programs. It would take more than a decade for similar programs to begin to be seen across the country.
In 1987, the University announced it would dissolve relationships with institutions that did not primarily serve college students. In 1994, after taking time to develop a board of directors and internal administration, MacPhail became an independent, nonprofit organization.
A certified member of the National Guild for Community Arts Education, and a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, MacPhail remains a steadfast leader in music education. In 2003, the organization changed its name to MacPhail Center for Music to reflect its dedication to the mission of its founder William S. MacPhail – promoting lifelong learning through music.
In January 2008, MacPhail moved to its current location at 501 South Second St, Minneapolis, a brand new state of the art music facility.
MacPhail Center for Music continues to grow with the number of teaching artists now more than 200 and more than 11,000 students. MacPhail provides instruction at more than 70 locations outside of its downtown Minneapolis facility in more than 35 instruments and a variety of musical styles like jazz, classical, pop, rock, hip hop and world music. MacPhail continues to offer the popular Suzuki Talent Education and Early Childhood Music (ECM) programs, and also has developed a Music Therapy department to offer music education and therapy opportunities to individuals with physical and developmental disabilities. In addition, MacPhail has expanded its course offerings to accommodate adults by scheduling programs during lunchtime and after work, and now offers Live Online Lessons, offering students of all backgrounds, abilities and geographies access to our exceptional music learning experiences.
Through MacPhail’s innovative Community Partnership programs with inner city and greater Twin Cities’ schools and community organizations, MacPhail serves more than 6,000 children who would otherwise not have access to music education. Each program is tailored to the partner, offering everything from ECM classes at preschools to supplemental music programs at area schools. In addition, MacPhail helps make music education accessible by awarding more than $500,000 in support annually through its financial aid fund.