To our People’s Music School family:

We are closed for all in-person lessons, classes, concerts through the end of the semester. We are not stopping the learning and teaching – please check back regularly for updates. Can’t stop the music!

Although we are sad not to see you in person, this is an opportunity for us to come together in our civic duty, focus on what’s important, and get creative on how we will problem solve. We will rise to the challenge!

September 24, 2020

To our People’s Music School family:

We are starting school on Monday, September 28th with virtual lessons, group classes, workshops, and music nights! We will be closed for all in-person lessons, classes, concerts through the end of the semester. We are not stopping the learning and teaching – please check back regularly for updates. Can’t stop the music!

Although we are sad not to see you in person, this is an opportunity for us to come together in our civic duty, focus on what’s important, and get creative on how we will problem solve. We will rise to the challenge!

If you have any needs to technology support, materials, instrument repair or accessories, please contact your program manager or send a message to info@peoplesmusicschool.org.

June 4, 2020

An update from People’s President, Jennifer Kim-Matsuzawa:

Dear Beloved Community of The People’s Music School,

As you know, one of our five core values is COMMUNITY.  An ongoing theme in our work is “You Belong Here”.  We are a school founded on the principles of equity, accessibility, and the power of music by Dr. Rita Simo, a groundbreaking female immigrant from the Dominican Republic.  Specifically, we believe and have always believed black lives matter.  We could not faithfully serve our 400+ black students (half of our student population) if we did not believe this strongly in our hearts.  To these students, we say together with full conviction – we are your allies, we see you, and we support you.  People’s Music School is, and always will be, a safe space for all of our students and their families – in person, online, today and every day.

In light of the pandemic, protests and pain happening around us, I want you to know you are a valued part of our community supporting the worthy work of creating better futures in the long term, and truly magical healing in the short term.  We asked our families last week to describe People’s during this time, and the word cloud below represents their responses (the larger the word, the more frequent the response).


To me, this word world makes a whole lot more sense than what’s outside these days.  And this is what we are building together.  Thank you.

Now, more than ever, the world needs goodness and community and music, so please tune in on the summer solstice / Make Music Chicago day, when we will be broadcasting our finale performance online – Sunday, June 21st at 3pm.  Special guests, community celebrations, showcase performances and more!

In service,

The People’s Music School Staff, Faculty, Board of Directors, Associate Board of Directors, Students and Families

April 6, 2020

An update from People’s President, Jennifer Kim-Matsuzawa:

When “anything goes”, it seems the most important things remain.

Somehow, it was never an option for us not to continue teaching these kids.  In just one week, one adrenaline-fueled, passion-filled, purpose-driven week, we became a fully online music school by:

  • building hundreds of classes, lessons, rehearsals on our platform
  • setting up thousands of unique logins for 70+ teachers and 800+ students on multiple technologies
  • delivering several mind-blowing, multi-hour training sessions for our teachers
  • conducting 6 different Town Hall meetings across 5 program sites with hundreds of families in virtual attendance
  • working remotely in lock-step to build brand new teaching protocols in record time
  • setting speed rails fast and furiously as a rock star Board and leadership team

Our results?  At the time of this letter, we’ve already had more than two weeks of full virtual instruction with over 70% daily attendance (and climbing).  Despite food shortages, family member deaths, language barriers, technology gaps, robberies, home fires, and more, our kids are showing up.  And so will we.

In a strange twist, we are meeting them in new ways where they are, in their homes, in their family lives.  What an honor and privilege for us to have this view.  We don’t take it lightly.  And to be clear, these kids are showing us (and their parents) a thing or two about technology too!

We strive to make you proud and uplift you during this difficult time, and we wish you well-being and peace.  Thank you for keeping us close.

I’ll leave you with this final mental image of staff member Dave Avery at our Town Hall family meetings, wearing his TPMS shirt for all to see, writing “I Miss You” notes to show on screen, bringing the house down to tears telling everyone: “TPMS is not a building, even Uptown Academy is just four walls and a roof. People’s exists inside each one of us, and we are still a school.”  Amen.

In service,
Jennifer Kim-Matsuzawa
President, The People’s Music School

En Español:

Una actualización de la Presidenta de The People’s Music School, Jennifer Kim-Matsuzawa:

Cuando “todo vale”, parece que las cosas más importantes permanecen.

De alguna manera, nunca fue una opción para nosotros no seguir enseñando a estos niños. En solo una semana , una semana impulsada por la adrenalina, llena de pasión y con un propósito, nos convertimos en una escuela de música completamente en línea al:

  • construyendo cientos de clases, lecciones, ensayos en nuestra plataforma
  • configurar miles de inicios de sesión únicos para más de 70 maestros y más de 800 estudiantes en múltiples tecnologías
  • impartiendo varias sesiones de entrenamiento alucinantes de varias horas para nuestros maestros
  • llevar a cabo 6 reuniones diferentes del Ayuntamiento en 5 sitios del programa con cientos de familias en asistencia virtual
  • trabajando de forma remota en el paso de bloqueo para crear nuevos protocolos de enseñanza en un tiempo récord
  • estableciendo carriles de velocidad rápida y furiosamente como junta de administración y equipo superestrella de liderazgo. 

¿Nuestros resultados? En el momento de esta carta, ya hemos tenido más de dos semanas de instrucción virtual completa con más del 70% de asistencia diaria (y escalada). A pesar de la escasez de alimentos, la muerte de miembros de la familia, las barreras del idioma, las brechas tecnológicas, los robos, los incendios domésticos y más, nuestros hijos se están presentando. Y nosotros también.

En un giro extraño, los estamos encontrando en nuevas formas donde están, en sus hogares, en sus vidas familiares. Qué honor y privilegio para nosotros tener esta vista. No lo tomamos a la ligera. Y para ser claros, ¡estos niños también nos están mostrando a nosotros (y a sus padres) una o dos cosas sobre la tecnología!

Nos esforzamos por hacerlos sentir orgullosos y elevarlos durante este momento difícil, y les deseamos bienestar y paz. Gracias por mantenernos cerca.

Los dejo con esta imagen mental final del miembro del personal Dave Avery en nuestras reuniones familiares del ayuntamiento, con su camisa TPMS para que todos lo vean, escribiendo notas de “Te extraño” para mostrar en la pantalla, haciendo llorar a todos diciendo: “TPMS no es un edificio, incluso Uptown Academy es solo cuatro paredes y un techo. People’s existe dentro de cada uno de nosotros, y todavía somos una escuela “. Amén.

En servicio,

Jennifer Kim-Matsuzawa
Presidenta The People’s Music School

March 30, 2020

From the TPMS team: We hope everyone is staying safe and healthy. This is a list of useful resources for anyone in need of additional support during these trying times. Please feel free to reach out if you have any questions.

Del equipo de TPMS: Esperamos que todos se mantengan seguros y saludables. Esta es una lista de recursos útiles para cualquier persona que necesite soporte adicional durante estos tiempos difíciles. No dude en comunicarse si tiene alguna pregunta.

March 18, 2020

Dear TPMS Family,

This is certainly #ANewWorld.  Perhaps not the one we imagined, or the one we hoped for, but one that still presents us with new challenges.  And opportunities.

What an overwhelming time.  Many emotions.   Scared and uncertain about what will happen.  Worried about your health, your loved ones, how you will work, where you will live.  Maybe brave and defiant in the face of whatever may come, being strong for ourselves and our families.  And this is the People’s way – being in touch with anything and everything the world brings… and then finding a path to rise above.

We can’t fix the world.  But we can continue to build a world inside our children that stays resilient, experiences beauty, and feels worthy.  We would like to continue to do this, with your help.

Starting Monday, March 23rd, we plan to launch the People’s you know and love, with a little help from our technology friends.  We have actually been laying the foundation for remote learning for years, and we went into overdrive the past few weeks.  Our program staff and teachers are working hand-in-hand with hearts ablaze to get this set-up for over 900 students, 70+ teachers, and hundreds of classes, rehearsals, and lessons.

Change takes time, and the conditions are not ideal. We are a very high-touch, intensive program where our students feel like 5-10 adult role models really know them.  But we are also products of Rita’s vision, and we are built on a solid foundation of fierce audacity, big hearts, and purest goals. There will always be a place for People’s in this world, now more than ever.  And a place for you here in our world.

In service,
Jennifer Kim-Matsuzawa
President, The People’s Music School

En Español:

Estimada familia de TPMS:

Esto es ciertamente #ANewWorld. Quizás no el que imaginamos, o el que esperábamos, sino uno que todavía nos presenta nuevos desafíos. Y oportunidades.

Qué tiempo tan abrumador. Muchas emociones. Asustada e insegura sobre lo que sucederá. Preocupada por su salud, sus seres queridos, cómo trabajará, dónde vivirá. Quizás valiente y desafiante frente a lo que pueda venir, siendo fuertes para nosotros y nuestras familias. Y este es el camino de People’s: estar en contacto con todo lo que el mundo trae … y luego encontrar un camino para ascender.

No podemos arreglar el mundo. Pero podemos continuar construyendo un mundo dentro de nuestros hijos que se mantenga resistente, experimente belleza y se sienta digno. Nos gustaría continuar haciendo esto, con su ayuda.

A partir del lunes 23 de marzo, planeamos lanzar el programa de People’s que conocen y quieren, con un poco de ayuda de nuestros amigos tecnológicos. De hecho, hemos estado sentando las bases para el aprendizaje remoto durante años, y nos pusimos en marcha las últimas semanas. El personal de nuestro programa y los maestros están trabajando de la mano con los corazones en llamas para lograr esta configuración para más de 900 estudiantes, más de 70 maestros y cientos de clases, ensayos y lecciones.

El cambio lleva tiempo, y las condiciones no son ideales. Somos un programa intensivo y de alto contacto donde nuestros estudiantes sienten que entre 5 y 10 adultos realmente los conocen. Pero también somos productos de la visión de Rita, y estamos construidos sobre una base sólida de audacia feroz, grandes corazones y objetivos más puros. Siempre habrá un lugar para las personas en este mundo, ahora más que nunca. Y un lugar para ti aquí en nuestro mundo.

En servicio,

Jennifer Kim-Matsuzawa
Presidenta, The People’s Music School

March 13, 2020

As the spread of the new coronavirus has become more prevalent in the Chicago area The People’s Music School (TPMS) has been in constant contact with our Chicago Public School, community, and government partners. Important developments have happened in the last 24 hours:

  • Chicago Public Schools (CPS) decided that beginning today all  activities outside of the normal school day with more than 50 participants must be canceled or held virtually. 
  • Local, state, and national health agencies are now strongly recommending that social distancing is the best way to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
  • Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker has  recommended that all gatherings of more than 250 people be cancelled.

While we value the power of music, we value the health and safety of each of our students, families, teachers, and staff above all else. Because of this, we have made the decision to cancel all classes, rehearsals, recitals, and concerts beginning today through at least April 20. Students, families, and faculty should not come to our sites for programming, meetings, or scheduled service hour work. This includes our programs at:

  • Albany Park (at Hibbard Elementary School)
  • Back of the Yards (at Lara Academy)
  • Greater South Side (at Bronzeville Classical School)
  • SLAM
  • Uptown Academy

We will be creating opportunities for remote learning for our students, and we will release more details on this early next week. For our faculty members and staff, we will follow up with you directly with instructions on our next steps.