People's Music School

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Founded in 1976, The People's Music School offers free group classes and private lessons to children and adults, regardless of their financial resources.[1] People's Music School is located in Uptown, Chicago at 931 W. Eastwood Avenue. The School today offers instruction in 13 instruments (including woodwind, piano, percussion, and string instruments), as well as voice and theory classes to more than 350 students each year.[2] In exchange for free music education, parents of the students volunteer at the school for two hours a month.[3] The People's Music School also presents free concert performances to showcase the talents of its students and to give back to the neighborhood.[4]

History[edit]

Dr. Rita Simo, a Juilliard-trained classical pianist, founded People's Music School over 30 years ago in Chicago in a rented storefront with a piano donated by St. Thomas of Canterbury Catholic Church. She dreamed of having her own place to teach and convey the joy of learning music to other people and began with music lessons to a handful of Hispanic, Asian and African-American students. Dr. Simo was inspired by the free music education she had received as a child in the Dominican Republic. "What we are doing is letting students discover their self-worth through their love of music," Simó states.[5] Twenty years later, Dr. Simo and the school directors erected the building currently housing the school, which features ten classrooms, a concert hall, a music library, and an outdoor patio.[6] Rita, as she is simply known to all, retired in 2001 from her position of Executive Director, though she remains actively involved as a board member.[2] The People's Music School hired Bob Fiedler as Executive Director in November 2005, who formerly served as the Development Director for an Uptown homeless services agency (REST) and Director of a local Muscular Dystrophy Association chapter.[7]

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Coordinates: 41°57′58″N 87°39′13″W / 41.966127°N 87.653732°W / 41.966127; -87.653732