The Institute of Western Music and Speech was founded in 1960 when it was known as the “Association of Teachers of Western Music and Dramatic Art.” It was the combined effort of qualified and experienced teachers of Music, Speech, and Drama, who dedicated themselves solely towards achieving a common objective – that of promoting, nurturing and developing the talents of the children of our country in the field of Western Music, Speech and allied subjects.
Today the Institute (IWMS) is a fully fledged, state recognized Institute, incorporated in 1988, by the Act of Parliament No. 44 without share capital or other commercial attributes. It has grown in stature and has established a reputation as the largest, most progressive and innovative, local Examining Board in Sri Lanka, conducting a record number of examinations island-wide, in Music, Speech and allied subjects in all grades including Diplomas. The syllabuses compiled by qualified and experienced examiners are in keeping with internationally accepted standards. The Institute met the challenge way back in 1971 when the conduct of foreign examinations was discontinued. The introduction of Written English Examinations and Speech Theory in 1984, was another step towards the expansion in the scope of examinations. The syllabuses in Speech subjects, Spoken English, and Written work offer the best of both traditional and contemporary thinking on the value of the Spoken and Written word in modern life and the best ways to examine the work presented. Another challenge was met in 1999 when at the request of numerous teachers, the IWMS introduced the Senior Certificate in Theory of Music. This will be beneficial to candidates offering Music as a subject at the G.C.E. (Ordinary Level) Examination. Further, the Board of Examiners resolved to introduce the Senior Certificate in English for G.C.E. (Ordinary Level) students and General English for G.C.E.(Advanced Level) students. As a help to Teachers, IWMS introduced in 1998 the Certificate of Proficiency for the Teaching of English, Levels I and II in Practical and Theory. We have introduced level I and level II C.P.T.M. Examinations for Music Teachers.
In addition to this, in keeping with the objectives of the Institute, several other programmes in the form of concerts and competitions have been organized throughout the years with a view to encouraging young talent.
The Institute has always catered to the needs of the teachers of Music, Speech and allied subjects, by way of organizing seminars, workshops, and programmes which have paved the way for closer co-operation, understanding, and cordiality between the teachers of Music and Speech and the Examiners of the Institute.
The Institute moved into its own building in 1993, at No:12, Kotalawala Gardens, Colombo 04. A long felt need was realized in 2016, when the Institute laid the foundation stone to a new well equipped, four-storeyed building complex, at No:12, Upatissa Road, Colombo 04, to meet the ever-increasing demand and to diversify its activities. The building was declared open in 5th of March 2018.
The Institute of Western Music and Speech is a firmly rooted body, comprising of membership of professionally qualified teachers in Music and Speech who contribute immensely towards the smooth functioning of the Institute and the conduct of its examinations. Its funds and property are vested in the Institute and are devoted solely to the advancement of the Arts – Music, Speech and allied subjects as set in its Constitution.