By Bonnie Kenaz-Mara
Old Town School of Folk Music
Old Town School of Folk Music (OTSFM) is the largest independent community arts school in the United States. Numerous classes are offered for adults and children. The school is also home to a fantastic, small theatre. The acoustics are excellent and even in the balcony and no seat is further than 45′ from the stage.
The school is truly a hotbed of creative energy, sparking amazing and far-reaching connections. In venue after venue, I hear musicians sing the praises of OTSFM. A vast majority of Chicago kindie (kids’ independent-or indie) musicians have taught or taken classes there, or both. Many met their current band members there. And a large percentage credit Old Town School of Folk Music with their decision to release a kids’ CD, or tour, or take their music to the next level.
OTSFM’s concert schedule is diverse and full of amazing, world-class musicians, including all ages, shows, and music specifically tailored toward young children. Check in monthly at www.oldtownschool.org for the latest performance information.
OTSFM has a dedicated staff of volunteers, in addition to their paid teaching staff. If you would like to get involved or want a discount on classes and concerts, check into volunteering. OTSFM values your time and energy and will compensate donated hours with reduced rates on classes and events.
The school is also renowned for their summer, Folk and Roots Festival. The festival is held outdoors in Welles Park, near Montrose and Lincoln Avenue and draws 30,000 people annually. Their always-stellar line up is full of internationally renowned musicians in a variety of genres. Tents are also erected for children’s crafts, kidcentric music, and dance demos, and the street is transformed into a street fair full of
If you’re not familiar with Old Town School of Folk Music, come visit for an Open House Friday, happening once a month. You can get through the door with a donation of $10 per family or $5 per individual, and feature lots of class demos, a live concert by a different member of the staff or faculty each month, and activities all over the building.
OTSFM not only offers classes in a number of instruments, but also numerous dance styles, vocal training, and even Capoeira, a Brazilian art form which combines dance, martial arts, acrobatics, music and sport. Wiggleworms Classes are a great early introduction to simple songs and movement for preschoolers with their care-givers. Monthly jams, for all ages and abilities, allow seasoned musicians and beginners to relax and play together in a safe space.