Today I want to share with you a special story – a story about how a music school can exist with no student fees whatsoever.
I thought that such a school couldn’t possibly exist, until we recently stumbled upon the peoples music school in Chicago, and thought it was such a unique and interesting story that it was worth sharing with everyone, if like us you have not already heard about it.
The music school is the brainchild of Dr. Rita Simo, who established the school in 1976, after coming to America to study music at the Juliard school from here native Dominican Republic.
Dr Simo was distraught to find that many American children were denied the opportunity to learn music because their parents couldn’t afford lessons, so set about a dream of creating a fee free music school.
Today the school teaches 500 students a year, and has a staff of 33 professional teachers. The students don’t pay for lessons – rather they contribute to the school through volunteer work at the school and in the local community. They also attend theory classes, participate in performance groups and choirs, and perform in concerts.
The school exists on the hard work of many volunteers, and private donors who generously support its existence.
What a wonderful thing it would be to have music schools like this all over the world: where children and adults could learn music, regardless of their background or financial status.
The enjoyment, as well as the self esteem and motivation that playing music can have has the power to change lives for the better, and it is wonderful to hear that people are actually achieving this with music lessons.
For more information you can visit their website at www.peoplesmusicschool.org
Giving music lessons away is great for students and low income families for certain – however, it is TERRIBLE for our industry. They’ve constructed a 1.5 million dollar building but the teachers teach for little or no pay? Does that sound whacky to anyone else? Why are musicians (and especially music educators) so anxious to be philanthropic with their services when as a group they are at the lowest levels of compensation?
In our conversations with the peoples music school we discovered that the staff do get paid – this is funded by fundraising and community work by the students. I don’t know what the rates of pay are however