Uptown’s beloved popular music school offers free music lessons to South Side kids with new location in Bronzeville Classical School
UPTOWN – The People’s School of Music, a beloved Uptown institution, is expanding to Bronzeville.
Over the next three years, a new Popular Music School location will operate from Bronzeville Classical Elementary School, 8 W. Root St. They hope to find a permanent home in the South Side when their time at l classical school will be over.
Since 1976, the People’s Music School has offered free music lessons to children in Chicago. In return, parents volunteer hours of their time at the school. But after watching children commute for hours from the south side, general manager Alli Henry decided it was time to head south.
As of 2016, the school operates a smaller program out of the Gary Comer Youth Center, 7200 S. Ingleside Ave. Enrollment grew to nearly 80 students, but the kids were cramped and the program was practicing in “closets and hallways,” Henry said. .
Since recently opened Bronzeville Classical School currently only serves students through second grade, their entire second-floor space is empty, making it a perfect fit for the People’s Music School, Henry said.
Henry said the new location is within walking distance of five schools on the south side and buses are also available.
“We don’t want to keep hopping around,” she said. “We intend to have a long-term presence on the South Side.”
The People’s Music School is still actively recruiting new students for the upcoming school year. Henry said they currently have around 850 students but hope to have 1,000 by 2020, with most of that growth coming from the south side.
Not only does the move benefit the children, but it also opens up opportunities for South Side families who had to volunteer with the program to bring their children in. Henry said those with long commutes needed to get creative, with things like data entry from home. works. Now parents or students can volunteer at the Bronzeville location.
With South Side schools within walking distance of the new location, Henry said she hopes students who may not have involved their parents can still access the program.
The People’s Music School has many students who receive parental permission to participate in the after-school program, but whose parents may work too often or live too far away to be actively involved.
“We do everything we can to allow all students to participate,” she said. “We know the value of having family in the band.”
Henry is happy to brag about the success of students who complete the program. Over the past five years, 100% of People’s Music School students have graduated from high school. Even more impressive, 100% of these students go on to university.
“We are so proud of our students who work so hard,” she said.
The program welcomes students ages 5 to 18, and Henry said she has seen the program change lives for years in Uptown. Now it’s time for the South Side to have greater access to the power of a music education, she said.
Currently, the South Side program operates three days a week. But if recruiting goes well and more South Side families crave a music education, Henry said they could expand their lineup to five times a week.
“We want to do what we can to make sure [South Side students] have our community around them.
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