The Nelly Berman School of Music is a private community school founded in 1983. Through music, the school aims to awaken the natural creative instincts of its students and help develop each student’s sense of individuality, self-esteem and responsibility. By taking a goal-oriented and disciplined approach, the school provides a serious yet fun and well-rounded musical education in a warm, supportive school environment that engages the students and their families.
School founder Nelly Berman started the school as a single teacher with only seven students. Over the years, her unique ability to inspire students to unlock their musical potential, as well as her passion and intensity for children’s musical education, allowed her to take her students – and the school – to new heights. Nelly raised the bar for high achievement and self-accomplishment, encouraging students and teachers to seek and attain their personal best.
(Pictured on the left: Nelly and her first music students in the 1980s.)
After her passing in 2015, Elena Berman, Nelly’s daughter and an accomplished teacher in her own right, took over as Director of the Nelly Berman School of Music and continues to carry her mother’s torch with the same passion towards musical excellence that Nelly embodied. Today the school has over 40 faculty members who have studied at some of the finest conservatories throughout Europe and the U.S, and 250 students from the Main Line and other Philadelphia suburbs.
Nelly and Elena Berman worked with their faculty to develop a unique method of instrumental and chamber music instruction that enables students to achieve a high level of proficiency early in their musical education. This involves the Russian approach to music in which technical mastery of the instrument is combined with a keen understanding of the composer’s intent and the student’s own emotions.
(Pictured on the right: the Nelly Berman School of Music celebrated its 25th Anniversary at the Kimmel Center in 2008.)
Students of the Nelly Berman School have attended music festivals in Italy, France, Monaco, Israel, Russia, Germany, Tanglewood, and the Van Cliburn Institute, among others. They have performed at Carnegie Hall and the Kimmel Center as well as on NPR’s “From the TOP”.
Nelly Berman School students have also won numerous prizes from international, national, and local competitions including the Music Teachers National Association Performance Competition, the West Chester Piano Competition, the Tri-County Youth Festival Music Competition, the National Foundation for Advancement in the Arts, and the Chicago International Piano Competition, among others.
In addition, students have performed as soloists with the Philadelphia Orchestra as well as the Delaware, Ambler, Southeastern Pennsylvania, Lansdowne, and Old York Symphony Orchestras. Our instrumentalists have been accepted to such student ensembles as the Philadelphia Youth Orchestra (PYO), PYAO, PRYSM, the Philadelphia Sinfonia, and Delaware County Youth Orchestra, among others.
(Pictured on the left: NBS students performing the Beethoven Triple Concerto for “A Musical Life” podcast.)
Twelve faculty members have received their Doctorate of Musical Arts (DMA), and all hold Masters’ degrees from some of the finest conservatories in the world. Our faculty includes Philadelphia Orchestra members, and professors from Temple and West Chester University. A number of faculty members have been invited to perform and give master classes all over the world and have been both winners and jury members of many international competitions.
The founding spirit of the Russian tradition of musical excellence Nelly Berman brought from Russia to Haverford lives on today in the practice rooms of our students and continues to inspire our community.
(Pictured on the right: Dr. Marianna Prjevalskaya (international piano performer & teacher by special arrangement) and Paul Arnold (Philadelphia Orchestra violinist & teacher by special arrangement) perform at the school’s Jade Anniversary Gala Auction & Concert at Jeffrey and Dominique Reiff’s home in 2019.)