About Us

The renowned French School of Music was founded in 1927 and has been at its present location since 1937. Yvonne Combe, the founder of the School, was educated at the Paris Conservatory where she won the first prize at age 13. Two years later, she performed the Saint-Saëns Piano Concerto No. 2, conducted by the great composer himself. Fauré, Debussy, and Ravel presided at the Conservatory while she was attending. In 1931 Mme. Combe emigrated to the United States, preceded by a letter of recommendation to the State Department from the great pianist and composer, Sergei Rachmaninoff.


According to a 1985 article in the Home New Tribune, Mme. Combe was responsible for bringing Solfège instruction to this country. Solfège is a method of sight reading, ear training, and musical dictation that was required for any student studying piano at the School. The wisdom of this was apparent in the quick progress of the students. It provides an excellent basis for playing any instrument or for vocal training. She and one of her students from France, Mme. Pfeiffer, joined forces to teach hundreds of children.


Stephen H. Waters valued the musical training received from Yvonne Combe. He began studying piano with her at age nine until his graduation from high school. He then studied organ and piano abroad at the Geneva Conservatory in Switzerland for two years and returned to the United States to attend Westminster Choir College in Princeton. At her invitation, Stephen began teaching at the school.


It was Mme. Combe’s desire for Mr. Waters to continue the school after her passing. In 1992 he picked up the mantle, purchased the building with his wife Judy, and directed the business until his passing in May of 2014.


Hundreds of students have passed through the doors of this institution, winning prestigious competitions, performing at Carnegie Recital Hall, Avery Fischer Hall, and Town Hall in New York City and concertizing throughout the world. They have also established distinguished careers as composers and educators, including artist- in-residence at Princeton University in the Institute for Advanced Study. Many of these musicians credit their success to the work of these devoted teachers, Yvonne Combe, Hélène Pfeiffer, Michelle Sequin, and Stephen Waters. These fine musicians laid the foundation for others to build upon.


Judy Waters, now owner and director, is working diligently with a team of highly qualified instructors to continue the school’s heritage and perpetuate its growth.  Come join these devoted individuals who are ready to help you discover your musical voice within.

French School of Music

Phone: (908) 757-3087