Hyde Park Academy High School partners with The People’s Music School

Frank Gaffeo is the President of the People's Music School, Natalie Butler is the Dean of Learning and Teaching of the People's Music School and Antonio Ross is the Principal of Hyde Park academy High School.
Frank Gaffeo is the President of the People's Music School, Natalie Butler is the Dean of Learning and Teaching of the People's Music School and Antonio Ross is the Principal of Hyde Park academy High School.

 Hyde Park Academy High School partners with The People’s Music School

By Tia Carol Jones

The People’s Music School provides free music instruction at four different sites in Chicago. The main site is located in the Uptown area. The program reaches about 750 young people, in grades K-12, mostly in after school programs, but it also has programs that supports teachers in the Chicago Public Schools to enhance music education.


The People’s Music School will partner with Hyde Park Academy High School, beginning September 2022, to open a satellite program for the students in Woodlawn and surrounding communities.


“We focus on excellence and I think that is a little bit different than a standard non-profit that is offering training to kids. We really understand there is value in in-depth focus on music and all that it encompasses,” said Frank Graffeo, president of the People’s Music School.


Natalie Butler is the dean of learning and teaching for the People’s Music School. Butler’s program focuses on quality and progressive development of a student, not just lesson to lesson, but year to year.


Students are instructed in an instrument of their choice. They also are taught how to read and write music, as well as perform in an ensemble. Butler described the program as rigorous.


“We really want to transform their lives. And, for us, we know that transformation is going to come when they’re excellent at the music they’re making and when they can apply the skills they learn in our program to everything else they do,” Butler said, adding those skills include discipline and hard work.


The program also focuses on socioemotional growth, helping teachers to understand trauma informed care, as well as other things that can enrich the students.


Hyde Park Academy High School has almost unused music education rooms. The People’s Music School is leaving Bronzeville Classical Elementary School. So, the leaders at the People’s Music School met with Antonio Ross, principal at Hyde Park Academy High School, about the opportunity to host the program at the school.


Ross wanted to partner with the People’s Music School because he is always looking for ways to enhance the experiences of Hyde Park High School students. Ross had been in talks with other entities about bringing a music program to the school.


Ross’ mentor mentioned The People’s Music School. He did his research and talked to people familiar with the program and he was excited.


“I think they can really help me enhance the experiences of the students of Hyde Park High School, and in the community, as well. They bring something we just don’t have and a lot of families that I serve can’t afford to have,” Ross said.


The school has a music teacher that teaches general music. Years ago, the school had music and band. Those programs were lost due to declining enrollment. With the People’s Music School, as Hyde Park builds out and attracts more students, the students will have opportunities to pursue music education programs.


Ross hopes the students at the high school and the students in the surrounding community get exposure from their participation in the People’s Music School program. Ross wants to get as many students to participate in the program as possible.


“What I’m hoping for is, with this new program, our students get exposure, they get access to things they don’t normally have access to, so they can go out and explore and pursue dreams they normally wouldn’t know they were interested in because they haven’t had the opportunity to engage in,” Ross said.

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