The concept of a music academy for special learners originated in Lenox, Massachusetts at a music camp co-sponsored by Belvoir Terrace and
the Williams Syndrome Association.
Over its 10 year history, this camp attracted national and international
1 9 9 8 - 1 9 9 9
The School of Education at the University
of Connecticut took the Belvoir camp
model a step further and invited young
adults with Williams syndrome to its
campus for a pilot program called “Music
& Minds."This program demonstrated that a
talent development approach based on
strengths could lead to achievement and gains
in the areas of academic weakness, such as
1 9 9 9
Berkshire Hills Music Academy was founded and incorporated and our campus property, Skinner
Estate, was purchased from Mount Holyoke
College. The Founders Dinner with Boston Pops conductor Keith Lockhart and violinist Lucia Lin
raised over $1 million for this endeavor.
BHMA opened its doors to an inaugural
class of fourteen students from nine
states and two Canadian provinces.
In that first year, 85% of the students had
Williams syndrome; the school has since
expanded to include a much wider range of
intellectual disabilities. The Two Year Certificate
Program was launched, focusing on life skills and
music skill development.
2 0 0 1
Two new program offerings were added: the
Summer Program for prospective students
and an optional third year program called
Music in Careers.
2 0 0 3
2 0 0 4
The Performance Troupe was formed to
showcase the talents of its graduates
acting as ambassadors for the school.
BHMA created and added a
summer Music Therapy Program
to foster music development in
younger children with special needs.
2 0 0 6
BHMA introduced the Extended Learning
Community (ELC) and launched an enhanced
Life Skills Curriculum to accommodate the
growing needs of our students.
2 0 0 9 - 2 0 1 0
2 0 0 1 - P R E S E N T
BHMA now serves a diverse student body with a wide variety of intellectual disabilities including, but not limited to, Autism, Down Syndrome, and Williams Syndrome. Programming encompasses developing skills in four key areas: Life Skills, Vocation, Communication Skills, & Music. Our offerings have expanded to include a long term program, and graduates of our Certificate Program now have the option of becoming a LIVE (Long-Term Independent Vocation Experience) Member. LIVE members reside at or near BHMA and pursue diverse programming tailored to their individual needs.