Help Support Free Music Education in Chicago with The People's Music School

Our History

Doctor Rita Simó, founder of The People's Music School

Dr. Rita Simó founded The People's Music School in 1976. Dr.Simó, a Juilliard-trained classical pianist was inspired by the free music education she received as a child in the Dominican Republic. She dreamt of having her own place to teach and convey the joy of learning music to others. Her belief was that all children should have access to music education, regardless of their family's socioeconomic status.

Rita's dream became a reality on February 22, 1976 when she opened the doors of The People's Music School in a vacant storefront in the Uptown neighborhood of Chicago. With only $625 and a piano donated by St. Thomas of Canterbury Catholic Church. Rita placed a sign in the window that said "FREE MUSIC LESSONS" and a handful of students began to trickle in.

Dr. Simó was quoted as saying. "What we are doing is letting students discover their self-worth through their love of music." Twenty years later, Dr. Simó and the school directors erected the building currently housing the school at 931 W. Eastwood Avenue, still in the culturally diverse Uptown neighborhood where it first began.

Our school features ten classrooms, a concert hall, a music library, and an outdoor patio with a beautiful mosaic wall depicting Rita's dream. Rita, as she is simply known to all, retired in 2001 from her position of Executive Director, though she remains actively involved as a member of our board of directors.

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