One of the most valuable community resources in Chicago has to be the Old Town School of Folk Music, (www.oldtownschool.org) located at 4544 N Lincoln Avenue. Located in the neighborhood known as Lincoln Square; the Old Town School of Folk Music is a nationally-recognized musical landmark. You can reach the Old Town School via the Brown Line to Western, or the Western Avenue bus. Paid and meter parking is available in limited quantity, depending on the time of day and number of cars in the lot.
The Old Town School of Folk Music provides affordable musical education for Chicagoans. Imagine learning how to play any number of musical instruments, make friendships with fellow-musicians, and enjoy a newfound musical talent.
Imagine learning how to play traditional music in a matter of weeks; for many Chicagoans, the Old Town School provides a way to reconnect with the cultures of their ancestors.
The Old Town School provides instruction in the following areas, with classes available depending on demand: Guitar, Violin, Belly-dancing, Harmonica, Musical Theater, Songwriting, Beatboxing, Banjo, Mandolin, Singing, and many other programs. In addition, the Old Town School offers some great classes for children – teaching basic musical skills and essential fundamentals.
Classes are typically under $200; again, check the website for availability and payment options.
Beginning Guitar classes will teach simple American Pop, teaching familiar riffs from bands like: Wilco, The Ramones, The Beatles, David Bowie, Ani DiFranco, Nirvana, Weezer, and many other popular American artists.
Advanced classes are also available for the seasoned musician – top instructors provide excellent training and constructive criticism.
Old Town also offers one-on-one teaching, for people who want more attention from instructors. If you take a class at Old Town, expect to spend about an hour or two practicing per week in addition to classroom time.
You can also see many nationally-renown musical acts at the Old Town School. For instance, recently the Magnetic Fields played a concert there. Rarer musical acts like Tinariwen and Mamadou Diabate have also been seen there. M.Ward recently put on an excellent show as well. Hotter musical acts tend to sell-out the concert venue, so check the website for upcoming concerts.
Hungry or thirsty? There’s also a café where you can purchase refreshment after a long jam session.
Once a year, the Old Town School of Musical offers a ‘basement sale’, where you can pick through a wide range of instruments and purchase nearly whatever your heart desires for a price well-below retailers – depending on availability.
Classes typically last eight weeks and are subject to availability. Weekend classes are available along with evenings. Instructors provide a hands-on, casual approach – many times you can ask to enjoy a drink or dinner in class.
If you have a chance to ask a native Chicagoan about the Old Town School of Folk Music, most likely that person will respond with a smile and recognition. People in Chicago love the Old Town School of Folk Music – it’s one of Chicago’s best kept treasures. If you love learning music, take a class or six.