1976
We Open Our Doors!

The People’s Music School opened its doors for the first time on February 22nd. Thus a legacy of tuition-free music education began in a repurposed barber shop at 4417 North Sheridan.

1995
We Build a Permenant Home

A vacant lot on a residential block in Uptown became the permanent home for The People’s Music School in 1995. The land was purchased for $1 from the City under the condition that the site always be used for tuition-free music programming.

2002
Rita Samo Way

The City of Chicago honored our founder by granting Eastwood Avenue the honorary title Rita Simo Way.

2008
Youth Orchestra program launches in Albany Park

In partnership with Hibbard Elementary School, The People’s Music School launched an El Sistema-inspired youth orchestra program in Albany Park. The partnership has grown over the years to serve around 150 youth every year.

2014
Leadership Transitions

Jennifer Kim Matsuzawa began her career as a piano instructor at The People’s Music School. She went on to achieve active leadership roles at Bain & Company and PepsiCo. Her return to the school as President & Artistic Director brought renewed vision and energy.

2015
We expand to two new sites on the South Side

To better reflect the geography of our students, TPMS expanded to the South Side of Chicago. We launched an orchestra program at Lara Elementary School in Back of the Yards, and a band program at the Gary Comer Youth Center near Englewood.

2016
Students performed with Yo-Yo Ma

Yo-Yo Ma surprised our students by joining them in a performance at Forefront’s annual luncheon! We launch our Service Leadership and Mentorship program (SLAM) Launched in the fall of 2016, our SLAM program is a high school honors program designed for our most experienced students.