Martha Maletz and four music teachers, Beatrice Allen, Jean Fox, Judith Moyer and Marilyn Pinschmidt founded Community Music School in 1981. The school launched operations in the Educational Building at St. John's Lutheran Church on Fifth Street in Allentown on September 8, 1982. In its first year, CMS had 7 faculty and 38 enrolled students in piano and voice and provided $5,604 in scholarships and financial aid.

In 2004, CMS moved to the Fowler Education Wing on the second floor of Miller Symphony Hall in Allentown, which offered 3,100 square foot custom-designed space, including 12 private music instruction studios. In addition to the downtown location, CMS expanded to offer lessons in several satellite locations, including in Center Valley at Penn State Lehigh Valley, Bethlehem at Moravian Academy, and in Reading at the Goggleworks Center for the Arts, through the acquisition on August 1, 2015 of the former Community School of Music & the Arts.
In 2017, CMS celebrated 35 successful years of operation and the Board of Directors embarked on a new strategic planning initiative, which resulted in a refreshed mission – to successfully provide the inspiration and opportunity for anyone in our diverse community to achieve excellence in music education and appreciate the transformative power of music.
Today, CMS employs over 30 professional musicians who provide high-quality private and group instruction to over 300 students of all ages and in nearly every instrument and voice, as well as extensive, tuition-free outreach programs that bring music to hundreds more students in under-served, high-poverty schools. Also, as a result of the 2017 strategic planning initiative, CMS entered into a long-term lease purchase agreement, with a view to making the former Lehigh Valley Club, at 1544 Hamilton Street, Community Music School’s forever home in Allentown.