Songcatchers, Inc. was founded by Sr. Beth Dowd, OSU, in 1994 as a non-profit organization dedicated to providing quality musical programs that were both affordable and accessible to the multi-cultural population within New Rochelle. It has since expanded to include families from the neighboring communities.
In 1978, while teaching at Blessed Sacrament school in New Rochelle, NY, Sister Beth Dowd began her first children’s choir. Two years later, she came up with the idea for a week-long music retreat for her students. Sister Beth wanted to continue to foster the family environment she saw within her choir, while giving the students additional time to practice their craft. Thus, Choir Camp was born.
Choir camp quickly grew and evolved to include choir, instrument lessons, and dramatic arts. To this day, we follow an almost identical daily schedule the one Sister Beth formed over 40 years ago.
The Songcatchers organization is an outgrowth of this original choir and summer retreat. Sister Beth saw a need for the children to continue their musical studies throughout the year, and wanted to provide this opportunity to all of the families in New Rochelle, NY. She quickly began building Songcatchers, and continually developed more programs to accommodate every child's needs. We incorporated as a non-profit organization in 1994. The After-School Music program was established in 1997, and we began the Early-Childhood Music Program in 2003.
A number of Songcatchers alumni have gone on to be in various high school music honor societies and classes, and returned to the program as volunteers. Songcatchers has inspired volunteers to pursue a career in music education, and have gone on to study at institutions such as Berklee College of Music, Manhattan School of Music, NYU, University of Michigan, and others. Yes, experiences at Songcatchers provide education for life!
All our programs strive to create a peaceful community, enabling growth of body, mind and spirit, and the forging of deep and lasting friendships. We have volunteer teachers who began with us in the Early Childhood Program, and many of our camp counselors started 20-30 years ago as campers. “I’ve been in Choir Camp longer than anything else in my life!” said one senior counselor.