Workshops

Join us for an upcoming workshop! Your date with the arts.

Workshops are special, one-time experiences of music and dance with master teachers at the Old Town School of Folk Music. Low in time commitment but high in artistry, workshops are timely, engaging, and dynamic sessions targeted to serve participants with varied interests and goals.

The typical duration of a one-day workshop is an hour and a half to two hours, but we also offer intensives and multi-day or multi-week options. Workshops costs are dependent on length, specialty, and teaching artist, and some are funded by grants to make them low-cost to you. Each week we host something or someone new, so check back often!

Fri. March 31, 7:30 PM – 9:00 PM · 4545 N Lincoln Ave
THE SOCIAL - Songs of the Women’s Movement »

Celebrate Women’s History Month by singing and playing the songs of the 1970s Women’s Movement with acclaimed local singer songwriter and founder of the National Women’s Music Festival, Kristin Lems. Kristin will sing and teach the defining songs of the Movement by artists like Malvina Reynolds, Peggy Seeger, Cris Williamson, Holly Near, and some of her own! Hear historical and personal anecdotes from this dynamic time of struggle and change. Bring an instrument or bring your voice. Open to all ages and levels.

Open to AllProgram: Guitar

$15 ($10 members)

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Sat. April 01, 3:00 PM – 4:30 PM · 4544 N Lincoln Ave
The Music & Life of Turlough O'Carolan: Quarrel w/ the Landlady »

O'Carolan. Each week students will learn a distinctly different tune and its historical/cultural background, alongside relevant anecdotes of this prolific composer's life. This week we will cover the piece, “Carolan's Quarrel with the Landlady”.

IntermediateProgram: Ensemble

$25 ($24 members)

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Wed. April 05, 6:30 PM – 7:30 PM · 4545 N Lincoln Ave
StoryCorps + 60 Years of the Old Town School »

In celebration of the Old Town School's 60th anniversary this year, the team from our Resource Center has partnered with StoryCorps to record, share, and archive a first-person, human picture of the school's history -- and we invite you to participate!

Open to AllProgram: Administrative

FREE!

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Thu. April 06, 7:00 PM – 8:20 PM · 4545 N Lincoln Ave
Cuban Salsa - Rueda de Casino »

Developed in the 1950s, rueda de casino (wheel of salsa) is a dance genre shaped by several African rooted traditions found in Cuba, including son and rumba. Couples dance in a circle, guided by a leader who indicates when to execute synchronized movements. Register yourself and a partner or come alone and meet someone new!

Open to AllProgram: Dance

$20 ($20 members)

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Thu. April 06, 7:00 PM – 8:30 PM · 4544 N Lincoln Ave
Middle Eastern Rhythms for Any Hand Drummer »

Join Raquy Danzinger, leader of the group Düm for this unique workshop the day after their World Music Wednesday performance. Participants will explore complex and varied Middle Eastern rhythms using hand drums. The workshop will also cover odd rhythms, soloing techniques and accompaniment.

Open to AllProgram: Drumming

$25 ($24 members)

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Sat. April 08, 1:00 PM – 2:50 PM · 4545 N Lincoln Ave
Dance Basics for Couples »

Swing and sway to the blues, rockabilly, and the sounds of the big bands. Learn to be comfortable with fundamental moves on the dance floor. in this two-hour workshop, Louie will cover the one-step, the fox-trot, and the six-count swing. Emphasis will also be given to the basics of coupling, floorwork, and turns. This class is ideal for couples who are either preparing for their own wedding or those wanting to dance with ease at any party or occasion. Spend some time with your honey, get moving, and have fun!

Open to AllProgram: Dance

$45 ($43 members)

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Sat. April 08, 3:00 PM – 4:50 PM · 4545 N Lincoln Ave
Swing Dance: Brush-Up Workshop »

Brush up on your Swing in this low-commitment, one-day workshop! Stop by on a Saturday afternoon to work with Louie on your swing turns, plus pick up a few new ones to liven up your dancing - you'll add turns like the "Charleston," "Texas Tommy" and "Slingshot." Sign up with or without a partner, we’ll figure it out!

IntermediateProgram: Dance

$25 ($24 members)

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Sat. April 08, 3:00 PM – 4:30 PM · 4544 N Lincoln Ave
The Music & Life of Turlough O'Carolan - Dolly MacDonough »

This 4 week workshop series taught by Aislinn Gagliardi, will cover the diverse life and works of the 17th c. Irish harper and composer Turlough O'Carolan. Each week students will learn a distinctly different tune and its historical/cultural background, alongside relevant anecdotes of this prolific composer's life. This week we will learn the piece, “Dolly MacDonough”.

IntermediateProgram: Ensemble

$25 ($24 members)

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Sun. April 09, 1:30 PM – 3:30 PM · 4544 N Lincoln Ave
Demystifying the Voice »

Voice specialist Dr. Rachael Gates will cover topics from Anatomy through Z-packs in this practical presentation on vocal health. Learn what is actually happening when you "lose your voice,” hear vocal myths debunked, explore diet and lifestyle choices to improve performance, understand common voice pathologies, find out about surgical techniques and precautions to take before undergoing general anesthesia, and discover ways to optimize your speaking voice.

Open to AllProgram: Voice

$20 ($19 members)

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Fri. April 14, 5:30 PM – 7:00 PM · 4545 N Lincoln Ave
American Roots Music with Stephen Wade »

Members of the American Roots Music faculty host a workshop introducing this special Labor Day program in the Colorado Rockies. The OTSFM's very own Stephen Wade will head up the workshop with the help of teaching artists Matt Brown, Peggy Browning, Maria McCullough and Aaron Smith.

Open to AllProgram: Banjo

FREE!

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Sat. April 15, 3:00 PM – 4:30 PM · 4544 N Lincoln Ave
The Music & Life of Turlough O'Carolan Series - Dr. John Stafford or Carolan's Receipt »

This 4 week workshop series taught by Aislinn Gagliardi, will cover the diverse life and works of the 17th c. Irish harper and composer Turlough O'Carolan. Each week students will learn a distinctly different tune and its historical/cultural background, alongside relevant anecdotes of this prolific composer's life. This week we will learn the piece, “Dr. John Stafford, or Carolan's Receipt”.

IntermediateProgram: Ensemble

$25 ($24 members)

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Sat. April 15, 3:30 PM – 5:00 PM · 4545 N Lincoln Ave
Southwest Fiddle Tunes »

Join Maria McCullough for a workshop in fiddle tunes from the Southwest. In this workshop, students will learn dance tunes from New Mexico and Arizona. The music is a mixture of Native American and European influences. The fiddle tunes will be taught by ear, phrase by phrase. Students will also learn about each tune's source and sing any lyrics and dance steps that are associated with them. Maria taught for 10 years at the Old Town School of Folk Music and is a co-founder of Carambola Community Music in El Paso with her husband Yahví Pichardo. She is very excited to come back to play music with all of you!

Open to AllProgram: Fiddle & Cello

$15 ($15 members)

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Fri. April 21, 7:00 PM – 8:30 PM · 4545 N Lincoln Ave
Partner Yoga »

Come enjoy partner yoga! Have some laughs and learn how to give and receive support in this fun yoga flow workshop. Partner yoga can offer great releases for your back and neck, relaxing stretches for legs and arms, strong core work and balance practice. You’ll be free to breathe deep and do what feels right for you in each pose. Andrea is an expert at offering variations of poses for everybody’s body; she is a doctor of physical therapy, and has been teaching yoga for 17 years. Feel free to bring a buddy, or come on your own. Open to new and experienced yoga practitioners.

IntermediateProgram: Dance

$20 ($20 members)

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Fri. April 21, 7:00 PM – 8:30 PM · 4545 N Lincoln Ave
THE SOCIAL - Best Songs of TV and Film II »

Join Dan Fulkerson to learn to play some of those TV and film songs that are always stuck in your head. He’ll share selections from “Cheers,” “The Jeffersons,” “Good Times,” “Wonder Woman,” and much more!

Open to AllProgram: Guitar

$15 ($10 members)

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Sat. April 22, 1:00 PM – 3:00 PM · 4545 N Lincoln Ave
Dance Revolution - An All Abilities Exploration »

Join BACKBONES, an organization connecting people with spinal cord injury and their families, along with Momenta Dance, an all abilities dance group, for this special workshop exploring dance and movement.

Open to AllProgram: Dance

$10 ($10 members)

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Sat. April 22, 1:00 PM – 2:50 PM · 4544 N Lincoln Ave
Understanding the Major Pentatonic Scale »

What's the point? Why is this scale so much more useful than other major scales? Dan has the attitude and the secrets to help you understand how to decipher a major scale into pentatonic scales.

IntermediateProgram: Guitar

$25 ($24 members)

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Sat. April 22, 3:00 PM – 4:50 PM · 4544 N Lincoln Ave
Understanding the Minor Pentatonic Scale »

The minor pentatonic scale is THE pinnacle scale for blues, hard rock, and heavy metal and has been used in some of the most famous guitar riffs of all time. Dan will cover all five patterns of the minor pentatonic scale and dissect famous riffs to help you cultivate your relationship with this mesmerizing scale.

IntermediateProgram: Guitar

$25 ($24 members)

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Sun. April 23, 1:30 PM – 3:00 PM · 4544 N Lincoln Ave
Robert Johnson- Lowdown Blues and Rags »

Explore the style and technique of legendary bluesman, Robert Johnson.This workshop will focus on classic delta lowdown blues and rags in standard tuning such as “Kind-Hearted Woman”, “Me and the Devil”, “From Four Until Late”, “Love in Vain”, “Malted Milk”, “When You Got a Good Friend”. Get $5 off if you sign up for both workshops!

IntermediateProgram: Guitar

$25 ($24 members)

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Sun. April 23, 2:00 PM – 3:00 PM · 4544 N Lincoln Ave
Community Dance Jam »

Join us in this safe space where free movement reigns! You're invited to bring your favorite tunes to share as well.

Open to AllProgram: Dance

$5 ($5 members)

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Sun. April 23, 2:00 PM – 4:00 PM · 4544 N Lincoln Ave
Poised for Performance - Intro to the Alexander Technique »

Is your body disconnected from your singing? Do you want fuller, easier breathing? Do you suffer from stage fright? Has poor posture or chronic body tension been getting in the way of your freedom and expression as a vocalist? The Alexander Technique has helped people connect to their body and breath, to relieve stress, and to reduce unnecessary tension for over a century. Bring your sense of play and curiosity, and don’t miss the opportunity to experience this work usually available only on the conservatory level!

Open to AllProgram: Voice

$30 ($28 members)

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Sun. April 23, 3:30 PM – 5:00 PM · 4544 N Lincoln Ave
Robert Johnson- Open Tunings & Slide »

Explore the style and technique of legendary bluesman, Robert Johnson. . This workshop will focus on open tunings and basic bottleneck slide technique using blues classics such as “Preaching’ Blues”, “C’mon in my Kitchen”, “Hellhound on my Trail”, “Terraplane Blues”, and “Crossroads Blues”. Get $5 off if you register for both workshops!

IntermediateProgram: Guitar

$25 ($24 members)

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Thu. April 27, 7:00 PM – 8:20 PM · 4545 N Lincoln Ave
Sabar Dance Workshop »

Sabar is a traditional dance from Senegal, West Africa. This dynamic style incorporates rhythmic combinations of jumping, hip twisting, high-knee lifting, and arm swinging and is always accompanied by crisp snapping drum rhythms played by live drummers. This complex, high-energy dance is known to get people hooked. Come learn the basics with longtime Old Town School dance faculty member and Senegal native, Idy Ciss.

IntermediateProgram: Dance

$20 ($19 members)

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Fri. April 28, 7:30 PM – 9:30 PM · 4545 N Lincoln Ave
THE SOCIAL - Barn Dance! »

Join the Fiddle Club of the World for a Barn Dance! Square dances for all, with fun calls and friendly instruction by Paul Tyler. Music by the Fiddle Club Orchestra. No experience or partner necessary. Bring your friends.

Open to AllProgram: Guitar

$10 ($10 members)

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Sat. April 29, 3:00 PM – 4:20 PM · 4545 N Lincoln Ave
Washboard Workshop: “Grab A Board & Rub” »

Become a washboard percussionist in this engaging workshop led by washboard wizard Barb Silverman. Hands-on skills will cover basic four-count rhythm patterns common to jug band, swing, old-time, and cajun/zydeco. We'll start with simple patterns and build to more complex ones, working on differentiating the right-hand embellishments from the left-hand steady rhythm. Techniques will range from the shuffle pattern to slow-quick combinations to triplets. Take the challenge and rub your way to stardom.

Open to AllProgram: Drumming

$25 ($24 members)

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Fri. May 05, 7:30 PM – 9:30 PM · 4545 N Lincoln Ave
THE SOCIAL - Springtime Beatles »

Join us to sing and play songs by the Fab Four, lead by Old Town School teaching artist Tommi Zender. Participants will take home a packet of Beatles songs, along with selected 70’s solo-Beatles bonus tracks mixed in. Get out out of the house, meet people, and play music...It’s spring!

Open to AllProgram: Guitar

$15 ($10 members)

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Sun. May 07, 3:00 PM – 4:30 PM · 4544 N Lincoln Ave
Big Bill Broonzy Guitar Instrumentals - Part II »

1920s and ‘30s blues guitar players were known for including exciting instrumentals in their repertoire. These fingerpicking instrumentals showcased the virtuosity of the guitar and kept the party going all night long. Chicago’s Big Bill Broonzy was no exception. In this workshop Eric will break down Broonzy’s instrumental the Guitar Rag Eric will explore Broonzy’s right hand technique that gives the song it’s driving rhythm.

IntermediateProgram: Guitar

$25 ($24 members)

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Tue. May 09, 8:00 PM – 10:00 PM · 4545 N Lincoln Ave
Prince Ensemble Master Class »

Join Cassandra O’Neal, keyboardist, vocalist, and former member of Prince’s New Power Generation band for this exciting master class. Become a band for the evening and jam out to your favorite Prince songs under Cassandra’s guidance. In addition to helping participants hone in on their inner funkiness, she’ll share personal anecdotes of what it was like to work closely with the man himself.

IntermediateProgram: Ensemble

$40 ($38 members)

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Wed. May 10, 6:30 PM – 9:30 PM · 4544 N Lincoln Ave
Songwriting: The Political is Personal »

These turbulent times call for good, new political songs! In this hands-on workshop we’ll learn techniques for translating our passion for social issues into powerful songs that hit our listeners on a gut level.

Open to AllProgram: Songwriting

$40 ($40 members)

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Wed. May 10, 7:00 PM – 8:30 PM · 4544 N Lincoln Ave
Remembering Prince: Songs and Stories »

Join Cassandra O’Neal, vocalist, keyboardist, and core member of Prince’s New Power Generation band for this special offering. During the first part of the workshop, Cassandra will lead the group in vocal arrangements of a few Prince classics. Later, she will share stories about her experiences as a member of his band and take questions from participants. Join us to celebrate Prince’s life and legacy!

Open to AllProgram: Voice

$30 ($29 members)

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Sat. May 13, 3:00 PM – 4:30 PM · 4544 N Lincoln Ave
Harmony Singing »

For you who always wanted to sing harmony, and for those who want to expand your ability, come on to this easy yet delightfully challenging Harmony Singing Workshop with songstress Barb Silverman. We will capture simple parallel harmonies in two-parts, work our way to some counterpoint and 3-part harmonies drawing from a broad sampling of Americana folk, country, blues and swing. Workshop leader Barb Silverman has performed for decades as front woman for The Teflons, The Laketown Buskers, The Schticklers, The Silver Stars, Silver Rose, the list goes on for sweetly harmonized bands. She has multiple recordings, and a long history of conducting singing workshops throughout the Midwest.

Open to AllProgram: Voice

$25 ($24 members)

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Thu. May 25, 8:30 PM – 10:00 PM · 4544 N Lincoln Ave
Argentine Folk Music with Pampero Sur »

Explore folk music of the “Southern Cone” of South America with Belen Mackinlay and her group, Pampero Sur in this unique workshop on the day after their World Music Wednesday performance. Participants will learn about a variety of different folk music styles from Argentina like zamba and chacarera. The group will cover the origins, rhythms and melodies that are unique to these styles.

Open to AllProgram: Ensemble

$30 ($29 members)

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Fri. June 16, 10:00 AM – 7:30 PM · 4545 N Lincoln Ave
Robben Ford Guitar Clinic »

Robben’s clinic focuses on chord building and music theory for Beginner, Intermediate and Advanced guitarists using blues to teach creative fretboard skills. A morning presentation will emphasize Harmony & Improvisation. After Lunch (not included) Composition and Creativity will be the topics of attention. We will then subdivide the groups into ensembles for some hands-on work. Closing up the day, we will assemble for further discussion and feedback.

Open to AllProgram: Guitar

$200 ($200 members)

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The Old Town School of Folk Music, Inc.
4544 N. Lincoln Avenue, Chicago IL 60625  •  773.728.6000