Feb 4, 2022 - News

People's Music School gets settled

Kid learning guitar
A People's Music School student learns guitar in a remote outdoor setting last summer. Photo courtesy of the People's Music School.

A school that has given free music lessons to thousands of Chicago kids has a new leader.

  • Francis "Frank" Graffeo arrived this week to lead the People's Music School at 901 W. Eastwood, where it's been since 1995, with satellite spots in Albany Park, Back of the Yards and Grand Crossing.

Background: The school was started in 1976 by Rita Simo, a former nun with a donated piano in an Uptown barbershop. She died in 2020.

How it works: Professional musicians teach students music theory, performance and ensemble collaboration.

  • Students' parents help with the maintenance and running of the school as tuition payment.

The results: The school attracts students from all 50 Chicago ZIP codes and boasts a 100% high school graduation and college attendance rate.

Editor's note: This story has been corrected to state the People's Music School has been located at 901 W. Eastwood since 1995 and is not a new location.

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