Celebrating 60 Years
By 1968, the School offered regular instruction in guitar, banjo, music theory, and folk dancing - and it was expanding beyond the quavering walls of 333 W. North Avenue. Teachers and advanced students formed the Old Town Singers, performing at local clubs and at housing projects and nursing homes. The School reached out to the city: new teaching director Ray Tate brought folk music to the community with missionary zeal, as Terry Galanoy of the Chicago Tribune reported in 1969:
'After all of these years, we are still constantly surprised to see what music and musical instrument training can do for people,' Tate says. 'Sometimes we get hard cases in here. Rough youngsters off the streets who relate to nothing and who respect nothing. Within the first month we find they are developing a sense of belonging.... The five-string banjo takes the place of the five-shot revolver as something they want to own, something that will give them an identity.
'We try to supplement that interest. We encourage them to come to our sing-ins and folk dances. We insist they get here to listen to Pete Seeger, Jimmy Driftwood, Mahalia Jackson, José Feliciano, The Weavers, The New Lost City Ramblers, and other personalities who have lectures and performed here. We try to make 'Trouble in Mind' a song and not an attitude.'