Helen Margaret Hosmer was born in Yonkers, New York in 1888. At age four, while living in Albany, New York, Hosmer’s parents discovered that she had perfect pitch, and another four years later her family relocated to Potsdam where she attended the Potsdam Normal School. Hosmer attended the Normal school during Julia Crane's era of instruction, and graduated in 1918 from the Music Supervisors Course and the Normal Course for Classroom Teachers. During Hosmer’s time at the Potsdam Normal School she played the piano in the Orchestra.
After finishing her education at the Normal School, Hosmer moved to Winsted, Connecticut and worked as a Music Supervisor. She returned in 1922, by the insistence of Crane, and joined the Normal School Faculty. In the summer of 1925 Hosmer continued her education by attending the American Conservatory at Fontainebleau, France. Hosmer then attended another Teachers College at Columbia University from 1926 to 1927, and later returned to obtain her Masters.
From 1929 to 1930 Hosmer served as the Interim Head of the Crane Department of Music, while the previous Head of the Department, Marie Schuette, was on sabbatical. After Schuette returned from her sabbatical, it was determined that Hosmer would remain as the permanent Director of the Department.
Inspired by the New College at Columbia, Helen started implementing European study tours, "Students culminated their four-year sequence in this type of experimental program at Potsdam with a trip to Europe, and their studies continued just as it would have in Potsdam while on the trip. Students were also assigned to study the history, architecture, art, music, geography, etc. of cities to be visited on the trip, and the students shared the information with the other students" (12) Hosmer’s first trip, comprised of 18 students, visited Europe in 1936.