wcms logoFounder and Director Emerita of the Winchester Community Music School, a nonprofit organization now serving more than 850 students from over 30 towns, including Woburn, Stoneham, Lexington, Medford, Arlington, and Burlington. With over 30 years of excellence in music education, an exceptional faculty, and a state-of-the-art facility, the Music School provides the finest professional instruction to students, and a world of music to our community and beyond!

Interview with Corie Nichols

Tell me a little about yourself and how you started the Winchester Community Music School.

I moved to Winchester with my husband and daughter in 1962 and did a number of volunteer things in town while my children attended the public schools here. After my daughter had left for college and my son was getting close to that point, I thought I could really focus on one thing. I knew that I wanted to do something that would support  music in town as well as  support the public schools. I did not want to do anything that would provide people with an excuse to cut the school budget. I did want to enhance and create a community-wide appreciation of music, both for people who might go on in music, and for people who might become audience members, people loving music and learning more about it. I talked first to the Director of Music in the public schools and then talked to the director of a nearby community music school in Belmont who agreed to help me get started in Winchester. That’s how we started in 1981, with three instruments—flute, trombone, and percussion—and three teachers.The program developed incrementally. After 17 years we bought a building, and now there are 850 students and more than 60 teachers.

When you first started, what were some of the biggest challenges you faced in trying to build this organization?
What have been some of the biggest highlights so far?
What do you think has been Winchester Community Music School’s biggest contribution to Winchester?
What do you want the legacy of the Music School to be in Winchester?
Do you think being a woman has impacted how people view you as a business person, as someone who started a non-profit? And if so, how and if not, why not?
Who is one woman who has inspired you?
Do you have any advice for female entrepreneurs?