The Leonard School of Music recently merged with Charleston Jazz to become the Charleston Jazz Academy. For the past 75 years, the Leonard School of Music has been a part of the lives of many families in the Charleston area providing musical training to Charleston youth.
The unique method of instruction employed for many years at the Leonard School of Music offers a great challenge to each student. From the very beginning of the extensive band program, each student is given many opportunities for advancement regardless of age. As students progress in their musical education, they are promoted from band to band eventually reaching the level of Symphonic Band.
The students have a tradition to uphold, a real “inheritance of responsibility” handed down from the students who were members of this band even before some of the present members were born. The Leonard School of Music has been a unique organization. It has a most colorful history, and the Youth Band scrapbooks are full of pictures, newspaper and magazine articles, letters and other similar mementoes and souvenirs. Since 1945, the list of accomplishments and honors of the Leonard School of Music has been too numerous to list. Highlights include the distinction of being the only band in South Carolina which has held a record of “1” and “1 plus” in both concert and sight-reading divisions for 12 consecutive years; the Youth Band was selected over all other bands in the Southeast to play for the MENC (Music Educators’ National Conference) Southeastern Division held in New Orleans one year; the band has played for everything from the opening of bridges to a concert for the members of the House of Representatives.
Every year members of the Leonard School of Music have been selected for the S. C. All State Bands, which are made up of selected band students from all over the state. In years past, members of the Youth Band have been represented in virtually every musical type of activity in the state, and in some cases, activities of national significance.
When a student becomes a member of the Leonard School of Music he or she is expected to live up to certain standards of loyalty and self-discipline. Each member is expected to practice faithfully, attend all rehearsals, and be courteous and considerate of one another.
The Leonard School of Music has always been justifiably proud of its record of graduates. As a student graduates from high school and thus “graduates” from the band, he or she is always a student to remember with love and pride. It is said that “No student who has ever graduated from the Leonard School of Music (since 1945 and that’s a lot of students!) has ever gotten into trouble.” One of the reasons for this could very well be the high standards which a student must maintain to become and remain a member of the school.
It isn’t expected that each band student would remain a musician, but after being in such a group for any length of time, it is only natural that each student continues his or her interest in music. Almost all the graduates continue their music in some form – either full-time, part-time or as a hobby in leisure-time. Too numerous to mention are the students who have received full scholarships all over the United States, at universities and colleges during the last several decades. In 1970, Mr. Patrick J. Leonard retired, at which time his son Daniel J. Leonard became the director of the Leonard School of Music. In 2010, the Leonard School of Music became incorporated and in 2012 awarded 501c3 nonprofit status. In 2017 the Leonard School of Music merged with Charleston Jazz to become the Charleston Jazz Academy.