The School grew from a tradition of the Royal Music Academy in England to an authentic Jamaican conservatory with the incorporation of a Folk and popular Jamaican Music in 1972.

The School of Music provides training for young musicians and music educators in performance, popular music studies, instrumental and vocal, music education and music technology.


The School of Music was established in 1961 as a statutory body supported by the Government under the leadership of the first Director and Registrar Peter Burges and Vera Moody respectively. The School was located at 50 Hope Road, Kingston, and was staffed mainly by British nationals engaged in the teaching of music of the European (Classical) tradition, offering training in practical and theoretical subjects. The training offered focused on instrumental and vocal lessons, which prepared students for entry into the Royal Schools of Music in the United Kingdom.

In 1964, the Junior Department was founded and in 1966, a Folk Music Research Department was established on the recommendation of the Most Hon. Edward Seaga, then Minister of Culture. The department was headed by Dr. the Hon. Olive Lewin, OD, OM, and she was responsible for collecting, arranging, editing, publishing and distributing Jamaican Folk Music. The School began training professional musicians in popular music, music education and Jamaican folk music in 1972.

The teaching of Jazz was introduced for the first time in 1974 with the establishment of a new Department of African-American Studies under Melba Liston of the United States. A Music Education Division was established to train teachers in schools and the Folk Music Research Department established in 1976, under the direction of Marjorie Whylie.

The School, for the first time, offered professional courses structured on the lines of the University of the West Indies courses. These included Diplomas in teaching and performance and music education, a Certificate in School Music Teaching and Certificate courses in African-American Studies.


  • Keyboard
  • Voice
  • Percussion
  • Guitar and Strings
  • Wind
  • Music Education, Theory and Research