The Old Town School of Folk Music teaches and celebrates music and cultural expressions rooted in the traditions of diverse American and global communities.
As we finish our 51st year in 2008, enrollment in Old Town School tuition programs averages close to 6,000 students per week, 2,700 of them children. The Lincoln Square and Lincoln Park facilities hold hundreds of classes and workshops in music, dance and art for adults, children and teens seven days per week, 48 weeks per year. Early childhood and middle school music programs thrive in three suburban branches as well as in several community outreach programs throughout the city. The School presents performances by internationally known touring artists, the best of Chicago's local artists and its staff and students virtually every weekend. Most Wednesday nights feature free concerts through AfroFolk Live and La Peña, popular and long established Community Programs. Some 85,000 come to these concerts and attend the Chicago Folk & Roots festival in nearby Welles Park annually.
Throughout our 50 year history, what has set the Old Town School of Folk Music apart from other music teaching programs has been the philosophy that music is for everyone. The founders wanted the School to be a place where, as founder Frank Hamilton said, "teacher and student would be partners in learning." This philosophy is still in place and the Old Town School continues to be a place that gives people the tools to make their own music. Young and old, beginners and advanced players, people from various cultures and traditions come together to create music and learn from each other.