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Harvard Square Music School Cutting Education For Non-Degree Students

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CAMBRIDGE (CBS) – In August, 700 children and 200 adults will have to find a new place to learn how to play music.

The Longy School of Music on Garden Street announced it will end lessons, classes and ensembles for non-degree seeking students.

School administrators say the move is to designed to free up valuable practice space for its full-time college students, who pay around $30,000 in yearly tuition.

“The school’s leadership has looked at alternatives,” Longy’s Spokesperson, Ed Cafasso, said in an email to WBZ. “[Longy] has decided to devote its scarce resources to the faculty and the full-time, tuition-paying students in its Conservatory programs.”

Dozens of students protested the decision outside the school Saturday. Passing cars honked as many young students played their violins on the sidewalk after finishing weekly lessons.

“It’s a big part of his life. He practices just about every day.  He really loves it,” mother Vicky Joshi said of her 7-year-old son Milan, who has taken lessons from the school for more than a year.

Cafasso says there are similar programs in the area and that many parents have already made arrangements to continue lessons with their teachers at home or in other facilities. However several parents felt there were not comparable programs with a focus on non-competition and learning as a group.

“All of the decades of work their faculty have put into building this asset, I think there’s a real responsibility for [Longy] to find a new home for it,” said mother Julie Mortimer.

The focus on community was obvious during Saturday’s protest. Harvard professor Warren Zapol compared the decision to a hospital deciding to close its emergency room.

“We’ve been dumped,” said Zapol, who plays the violin in his spare time. “It’s like they said ‘we’ll take the people who can spend $30,000 on their operation and you poor people in the community, go somewhere else!’”

The school employs 54 part-time instructors for preparatory and continuing studies programs. Administrators say they will be bargaining with the faculty union over the impact of the decision. Longy denies that the decision was influenced by its merger with Bard College last year or any financial difficulties.

“This decision has nothing to do with finances,” wrote Cafasso. “In fact, Longy will lose revenue in the short term as a result of this decision. The Preparatory and Continuing Studies program accounts for about 26 percent of the school’s overall net revenue, but it occupies 47 percent of reserved space.”

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