Newsmakers Making A Difference: Rita Simo, The People's Music School

Mike Krauser
May 17, 2018 - 11:32 am

Splash Magazine

CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- 'Transforming lives through music,' is the motto of The People's Music School.

Bree Dorgan, Marketing Coordinator, said the school got its start in 1976.

“Our founder Rita Simo decided to open a free music school," she said.

It was started in a storefront, with a borrowed piano and a hand-written sign declaring “free music lessons.”

Simo, she said, founded the institution based on the idea that music education has benefits that can help people in other parts of their lives and she knew that for many the cost was out of reach.

Simo today is a board member. 

Splash Magazine

The school now has four locations in the city and nearly 700 students, ages 5 to 18. 

Tuition is free. Dorgan said parents provide labor.  

“In exchange for their childrens’ music education, our parents each volunteer," she said.

The instructors are professionals.

Dorgan said students grow musically, socially, emotionally and intellectually.

“Music education has incredible benefits beyond music instruction, itself," Dorgan said.

The donor-funded school said 100-percent of its students graduate from high school and each goes on to college. 

As WBBM celebrates its 50th anniversary as Newsradio, this year we’ll be honoring 50 Newsmakers making a difference in the community.  Listen for reports each Tuesday.

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