Students perform in a string ensemble at the 2012 Spring concert.

Our Program

Youth Program

The People's Music School was the first free community music school in the country. Students receive a comprehensive musical education on the instrument of their choice, with an emphasis on music theory.

The school believes that the study of music theory provides an essential foundation for musical development. All students of the school are enrolled in a theory class at all times. Music theory is presented in age-appropriate classes with consideration for a student's mastery of the subject. New students who have little or no previous musical training are enrolled in beginning level theory classes. In these classes, students learn the basics of music notation, aural skills, and rudimentary theory. After one semester, and upon passing their mid-term exam, students are assigned to a private or group lessons. Students with previous musical training may take an exam to be placed in a higher level theory class and may then qualify for private or group lessons during their first term.

All theory classes and instrument lessons are taught by qualified, professional musicians and music educators. Instruction is offered for piano, percussion, guitar, voice, violin, viola, cello, bass, flute, clarinet, saxophone, oboe, bassoon, trumpet, trombone, french horn euphonium, and tuba.

In addition to classes and lessons, students also have numerous opportunities to perform, whether as soloists or as members of one of our ensembles. Our students also often have the opportunity to learn from established professional musicians and to attend the various concerts hosted by the school featuring Chicago's premier musicians.

YOURS Project

Named after our founder, Rita Simo, the YOURS Project is the People's Music School's El Sistema program that provides free, orchestral, after-school music education to children throughout Chicago Public Schools.

In just two short years, we have transformed over 700 students through music education at four public schools, making it one of the most successful El Sistema programs in the country.

The YOURS Project was founded by a group of idealistic volunteers in October 2008, using donated instruments and makeshift accessories to teach 35 children after school.

The project's goals are social, using intense immersion in an orchestra-school training program to broaden horizons and develop potential. The project aspires to be a city-wide network of nucleos, locations that house these orchestras, the first of which is located at the William G. Hibbard Elementary School in Albany Park.

In 2009, the founder of El Sistema, Maestro Jose Antonio Abreu, visited the People's Music School and requested that he be considered a member of the School.

Students from the YOURS Project have played in venues all over the city, including the Symphony Center, and in October 2010, members of the top orchestra traveled to Turin, Italy, to participate in the Terra Madre 2010 music festival.