Mission & History

"Our mission is to cultivate creativity,
self-expression and the joy of music

for people of all ages and backgrounds
through collaborative musical adventures."


Five determined musicians founded the Ann Arbor School for the Performing Arts in 1991.  They saw a need for a community music school that provided a comprehensive learning experience for toddlers to seniors. What they created was an opportunity for all community members to develop a lifelong love of music and tap into the rich cultural fabric that exists in Southeast Michigan.

The first classes were held in First Unitarian Universalist Church and ranged from pre-school Kindermusik to Adult Musicianship.  A Music Discovery Concert series at Kerrytown Concert House and an Adult Chamber Music Network were also off and running.  By the third year, offerings expanded to include private instruction for instruments and voice, as well as their Youth String Orchestra Program, with Dan Long as the director.

The School expanded to the point that in the fall of 1995, it moved to Concordia College.  In the thirteen years the school resided at Concordia, the School saw the addition of its Jazz Studies Program, the Sterling Strings Orchestra, a Chamber Music Program and a pre-college track for motivated and talented music students. Also, the Youth Symphony Orchestra toured to Australia, recorded a CD and was invited to perform at the prestigious Midwest Clinic in 1999, an International Band and Orchestra festival.  

Finally in 2008, the School moved to its present location on South Main Street, continuing its core programs in Early Childhood Music, Youth Orchestra, Chamber Music, Jazz Studies and Private Instruction and well as adding the Horizons Senior String Orchestra.  It continued also to award thousands of dollars in need-based financial assistance and started a very important partnership with the Ann Arbor Public Schools to provide music instruction to the underserved in the community. 

To this day, AA-SPA has stayed true to its mission created by its founders over 20 years ago.  This rich community resource has clearly struck a chord in the Ann Arbor community, serving students from age 14 months to 72 years, and continues to strive to nurture the musician in all of us.