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


The People's Music School is the only completely tuition-free music school in Chicago, and the oldest in the United States. Our founder, Rita Simó, a Julliard trained pianist from the Dominican Republic, believes that all children should have access to music education, regardless of their family's socioeconomic status. With just $625, a donated piano and a few students, she started The People's Music School in 1976. From these small beginnings we've grown to serve over 300 students through individualized and group instruction at our Uptown Academy, and our El-Sistema inspired Youth Orchestras program at Hibbard Elementary school, a Chicago public school in the Albany Park neighborhood.

Through intensive instruction and performance our students learn more than music. They grow socially, emotionally and intellectually, and develop a foundation of responsibility, self-esteem and purpose. We believe music is transformative and empowers the lives of youth, families and communities.

The Uptown Academy

The People's Music School provides sequential music education to youth between the ages of 5 and 18. Children learn the instrument of their choice through individualized and group instruction. A unique component of our school's program is the requirement that students take and progress through theory classes. This initiative is the backbone of our curriculum, and provides a solid foundation for not only learning an individual instrument, but also to gain a broader understanding of the principals of music.

Learn more about The People's Music Schools Uptown Academy here...

Youth Orchestras

The People's Music School provides free orchestral music instruction in the Albany Park community at Hibbard Elementary School. This program, was established in 2008 and was modeled after the El-Sistema philosophy of instruction, using intense immersion in an orchestral setting. The orchestras teaching techniques encourage peer-to-peer learning with an emphasis on group instruction. The students develop leadership skills while cultivating a sense of responsibility and a spirit of collaboration. The immersion method has resulted in faster skill acquisition and comprehension. Our Youth Orchestras students are learning valuable life skills that transcend beyond basic music fundamentals.

Learn more about The People's Music Schools Youth Orchestra here...

Student Requirements

If students meet the requirements, they do not have to stand in line to register at the beginning of each school year. These policies and requirements are elaborated on further in our student handbook. Download the PDF here...

Learn more about the student requirements here...

Contact us to learn more or how to get involved