People’s Music School making sure students don’t miss a beat

The federal government says music is an important part of students having a well-rounded education. That statement comes at a time when many districts are battling budget issues and music is often one of the first cuts. 

The People’s Music School is making sure students don’t miss a beat. 

"Growing up my first taste of music education came from church," said Nyle Taylor, who is a band director for the People’s Music School. "I think that’s many South Siders first taste of music education. I didn’t get my next taste until I was in high school. So, you have these huge gaps. Where in the suburbs you have students starting out in fourth grade."

The goal of the People’s Music School is to close those gaps. The program is the largest tuition-free music school in Chicagoland. The biggest requirement of the students is to take the time necessary to learn their instrument.

"I didn’t pick the trumpet, the trumpet chose me," said Tanner Bell. 

Bell is one of the students in the program and this opportunity has helped build her confidence.

"I found out that the trumpet was a very loud instrument," Bell said. "I was a quiet person back then. So, I said maybe this is for me to find my personality and who I am as a person."

The discipline it takes to learn an instrument also pays off in the classroom.

"It’s given me time management," Bell said. "I do so much outside of this program. I do band at school. I have a job. I do homework. I get good grades. Personality wise I feel like it made me open up as a person. When I first got here, I didn’t want to do any solos. Then I opened myself up and did a solo at school this year. I think it’s made me a brighter person and able to face my fears."

Building up the person, not just the musician is exactly what Taylor had in mind when he signed on to give back to kids, who grew up in the same South Side neighborhoods that he did.

"The little pieces of identity that we can build into our students through music education, that’s what I wanted to accomplish with building up the southside of Chicago," Taylor said. "If we can get them from a fixed mindset to a growth mindset. They start to realize I can do these things. That’s part of the solution.

The People’s Music School has four locations. The South Side location at Wendell Phillips High School is the fastest growing in the program. There are currently about 700 students, but they’re looking to expand. Click here for more information on how you can help their mission.