Our Press (download PDF)


Michelle Obama Calls Chance the Rapper ‘My Baby Brother,’ Lin-Manuel Miranda Ignites Rap Battle & More From The Obama Foundation Summit

Billboard Magazine | November 3, 2017

TPMS students opened the first-ever Obama Foundation Summit with a live performance of Coldplay’s “Viva La Vida,” which Billboard Magazine recaps in this article. That night, TPMS shared the stage with Young Paris, Common, Lin Manuel Miranda, Barack and Michelle Obama, and Chance the Rapper.

Read on to find an interview with TPMS student Julia Soto, who describes her experience performing at the Summit and meeting the Obamas backstage!

Kids facing Racism, Trauma Find Safe Haven at People’s Music School

DNAinfo | March 31, 2017

Senite Barih, 14 year old TPMS student, opens up about her struggles facing racism at school and in the community – but how The People’s Music School provides a safe, comforting space where she finds comfort and positive mentors.

Read the full article, which includes testament from long-time parent John Yolich and TPMS President & Artistic Director, Jennifer Kim Matsuzawa.


The Single Most Important Piece of Advice Yo-Yo Ma Has for Young Musicians Today

WFMT | December 1, 2016

The People’s Music School was proud to partner with the Civic Orchestra of Chicago and Yo-Yo Ma for the annual Bach Marathon on November 30, 2016, a day long celebration across the city. TPMS President Jennifer Kim Matsuzawa and Civic musician/TPMS faculty member Istvan Loga sat down with Mr. Ma to discuss music as a service, and how we create community by the very act of music making.

Read on, and learn more about the Bach Marathon through this great video.

TPMS 40th Anniversary honoring Smashing Pumpkins’ Jimmy Chamberlin

Make It Better | October 6, 2016

Jimmy Chamberlin, Smashing Pumpkins drummer turned local business leader and father, has a message for our kids: “If you’re brave enough to visualize something, it can be attainable.” This sentiment embodies the heart of our mission, and that through hard work and perseverance, our students can achieve anything they set their mind to.

Check out the full article, which includes details about our 40th anniversary and how Jimmy is helping us celebrate four decades of musical impact in Chicago!

Kapos: Matsuzawa leads turnaround at People’s Music School

Chicago Sun-Times | July 3, 2016

The People’s Music School has made vast strides in the past two years since our President and Artistic Director Jennifer Matsuzwa re-joined our community after over 10 years with Bain & Company. Under her direction we have opened two new locations on the South and Southwest sides of Chicago, nearly doubled our number of students we serve and closed a six figure deficit.

Along with Jennifer, Chicago Sun-Times featured our students recent performance with Yo-Yo Ma and quotes from our board. Read the Chicago Sun-Times article to learn more.

Yo-Yo Ma at the Forefront of Social Impact

Make It Better | June 10, 2016

Asked to perform for the Forefront Luncheon, The People’s Music School made lasting impressions on a crowd of more than 800 people and Yo-Yo Ma! The famous cellist surprised our students through asking if he could join in the performance. Read this Make It Better article to learn more.

Check out this video of our talented students performing with Yo-Yo Ma!

The People’s Music School is Back

DNAinfo | May 12, 2016

The People’s Music School has always has a strong track record of teaching and students’ achievements. We’ve been hard at work these past two years to make sure our organizational operations are as strong as the community that’s sustained us for the past 40 years.

DNAinfo featured our improved financial position, our expansion to reach more students, and technology updates, as well as a spotlight on students Charles, Isaac and Joyce. Read the DNAinfo article to learn more.

This Hackathon brings Chicago’s Best Technologists and Musicians Together

Built In Chicago | March 9, 2016

The People’s Music School unites techies and musicians alike in our 2nd annual Hackathon event. Every year, technologists work with TPMS students and staff to develop apps as tools for music education. See what apps won this year, Read Built In Chicago’s article to learn more.

Want to see Hackathon first hand? Check it out our video recap to see a quick summary of the day.

What Can Music Education Learn From Tech Startups?

Chicago Inno | February 19, 2016

The People’s Music School is always working hard to make sure our students learn the most they can and the best they can. This year, our faculty are using tech tools to test improvements in music instruction, assessment, practice tracking, and accompaniment for our students. Read Chicago Inno’s article to learn more.

Hungry for more details? Head over to our “Tech + Innovation = Music Magic” blog for even more info on how The People’s Music School is using new technology.


How Music Helped this Finance Exec Cope with Loss

Crain’s | March 13, 2015

Our President and Artistic Director found change and healing through music at The People’s School, where she had previously taught. She now offers guidance from her experiences to our students, I’m not here just to teach you music. I’m here to give you the skills that will help you when you’re 20 and 30 and 40 and 50 because life is long. It’s not just about getting into the right high school or college. It’s about how you’re going to handle challenges.’” Read this Crain’s Article to learn more.


Someone You Should Know – The People’s Music School

CBS 2 Chicago | December 19, 2014

Watch CBS 2 Chicago’s Harry Porterfield’s “Someone You Should Know” segment about our School and its leaders. Founder Rita Simó, President & Artistic Director Jennifer Kim Matsuzawa, and parent Lanzie Howard speak of the School’s importance and impact.

The People’s Music School Passes on Baton – Renewing the Treasure Rita Simó Gave Chicago

Chicago Splash Magazine | October 20, 2014

On December 12 The People’s Music School will give a concert at the Merchandise Mart in honor of founder Rita Simó’s 80th birthday. Perhaps the greater present to Rita has been the recent appointment of a new Director for the school that has the skillset to both safeguard Rita’s legacy and put The People’s Music School on track to be a dynamic model for non-profit community arts organizations across the country.

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The People’s Music School Names Matsuzawa “President and Artistic Director”

September 22, 2014

The People’s Music School, the only tuition-free music school serving Chicago metropolitan area children, has appointed Jennifer Kim Matsuzawa as President and Artistic Director.

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Staffing Update

Letter from the Board Chair | June 13, 2014
Launch begins to identify new Executive Director.

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TPMS Selected for Study of El Sistema-Inspired Orchestra Education Programs

Longy School of Music | May 27, 2014

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Awards the Longy School of Music of Bard College a $100,000 Grant to Partner with WolfBrown to Study El Sistema-Inspired Orchestra Education Programs.

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TPMS Teacher Featured on WCIU-TV “I Love My Job”

WCIU-TV | May 19, 2014
As a teacher who has found her passion in teaching, Stephane Collopy shares the story of why she loves her job at The People’s Music School.

Courtesy of WCIU’s You & Me This Morning

TPMS Students Travel to LA to Participate in The Leadership Forum for Young Musicians

Los Angeles Philharmonic | April 24, 2014
TPMS Youth Orchestras students Adilene, Karina, Alejandro, Luis, and Frank were 5 of only 26 students nation-wide chosen to participate in the first-ever Leadership Forum for Young Musicians in LA in February 2014.

The Leadership Forum for Young Musicians— held in conjunction with the 2014 Take a Stand Symposium in Los Angeles February 20-22— brought together 26 student leaders from El Sistema-inspired program across the United States for 3 days of collaboration, music-making, and learning.

Courtesy of the Los Angeles Philharmonic


TPMS Youth Orchestras – Albany Park featured in ABC7 News,

ABC7 News | April 24, 2014

Watch ABC7 News’ feature on TPMS Youth Orchestras program in Albany Park at Hibbard Elementary School. Students Marycarmen Luna and Jonathan Alday, along with parent Ana Soto, talk about how valuable the program is to them.

Courtesy of WLS-TV

Welcome to Our Partner, Berklee City Music Network

February 27th, 2013

The People’s Music School is part of the Berklee City Music Network, a consortium of community organizations supported by Berklee City Music. Berklee City Music is a nonprofit program that harnesses the energy of contemporary music to provide music education to 4th through 12th graders in underserved communities.


WTTW’s Chicago Tonight Features the YOURS Project

Chicago Tonight | June 11, 2012

Watch Chicago Tonight’s feature on the YOURS project at Hibbard Elementary School in the Albany Park neighborhood. Our wonderful students in the program, Jonathan Alday, Sheila Esquivel, Giang Vu, and Eva Roman, help to explain what the program means to them. Thank you Chicago Tonight!

Courtesy of WTTW’s Chicago Tonight


Free Music School’s Cost: A Week on the Sidewalk

New York Times | August 26, 2011

“Rebecca Tirado arrived six days early to enroll her 7-year-old twins at the People’s Music School. With a tent, an air mattress and a cooler stocked with Gatorade and yogurt, she and her husband were ready for an extended sidewalk stakeout.” Why??

Read more to find out!

Teaching Music is a Team Sport

Chicago Sun-Times | May 23, 2011

It’s after school at Hibbard Elementary in Albany Park, and the crisp strains of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony reverberates so in the halls, that you wonder why a teacher would be playing a recording or movie so loud. It was just that perfect—the performance one afternoon of the talented YOURS orchestra of 8- to 13-year-olds at this Northwest Side school where 97 percent of students are low-income and a third are limited English learners.

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School Earns Cook County Excellence Awards

October 25, 2010

Two “Awards of Excellence” were presented by Cook County Treasurer, Maria Pappas, to People’s Music School Founder, Rita Simó, and YOURS Project Founder, Deborah Wanderley dos Santos. These awards are given to a handful of outstanding individuals in various fields throughout the county.

YOURS Project Founder Awarded 2010 YouthActionNet Global Fellowship by IYF

October 14, 2010
The People’s Music School, the oldest tuition-free community music school in the United States, is pleased to announce the selection of Deborah Wanderley dos Santos, founder and Program Director of the School’s YOURS Project, into the International Youth Foundation’s (IYF) 2010 YouthActionNet Global Fellowship program which awards 20 young social entrepreneurs annually with a one-year fellowship.


Mom Strikes the Right Chord

May 18, 2008, WGN Chicago, written by Jennifer Sabella

Erika Gonzalez is not one to take no for an answer, especially when it comes to her children. The 25-year-old mother of three camped outside the People’s Music School in Uptown for three days — through rain and cold temperatures — because she knows what having a music education could mean for her kids. “Education is power,” Gonzalez said Friday afternoon as she waited for enrollment to open Saturday. “When kids have too much time on their hands, they join gangs.”