Teen Arts Collectives

Old Town School’s Collectives are groups of young musicians collaborating together with both group rehearsals and private lessons combined in one program with our professional teaching artists there to guide the way. Students may choose either the Amplified or Acoustic tracks based on their preferred instrument. But each Collective shapes their own sound by deciding what songs and genres they learn and what they want to say through their performances.

Registration for the Fall session will open July 12th, 2018


Sunday, June 10, 2:00 PM at Subterranean, 2011 W. North Ave.

Info & FAQs

What is a Collective? How is this different from a band?

Arts collectives are groups of artists who pool their talents and resources to work together, acting as co-creators and editors, mentors and learners. In Old Town School’s Teen Arts Collectives, students have the experience of collaborating with other young artists to share their work with the world.

Unlike a rock band, a string quartet, or a jazz trio, a music collective encourages students to stretch themselves by trying different roles within a band and sometimes even new instruments. Students also become better musicians by working with the wide range of abilities, interests, and perspectives in their collective. The best way to improve is by playing with different people and learning to communicate with them.

How does a Collective rehearse?

Collectives have access to multiple rooms at the school during their two hours of rehearsal time, so there’s always more than one thing happening! You won’t hear much progress if you just play through your set over and over again. Your teaching artists will help your group figure out how to make the most of your rehearsal time. Sometimes you might need to work on a specific part of a song with just one or two other people, sometimes you might need some time to listen to a recording or write out an arrangement.

When will the Collectives perform?

All Teen Arts Collectives finish out the session with a full show on stage at real music venues in Chicago. Exact dates will be determined at the start of the session, but expect shows to happen around the second to last week of each session.


Billed monthly at $275. $40 non-refundable registration fee holds your seat for the upcoming session.

Is financial aid available?

Financial aid is available and applies to your whole registration. (Typically financial aid cannot be applied to a group class and private lesson in the same session.) You can learn about Old Town School’s financial aid policies and download an application form here.


In our pilot year of Teen Arts Collectives, the program is intended for students in grades 9-12. Age minimum is set to 14. Age exceptions are allowed with permission from the program manager: email Ian Wilson at iwilson@oldtownschool.org.


Minimum of 6 months of lessons or classes in your primary instrument is required, or consent from your private lesson instructor at OTS. Instrumentalists should know how to read a lead sheet and be able to play some basic 3- and 4-chord songs. Vocalists should be able to match pitch and learn by ear.


Amplified Collective - voice, electric guitar, bass*, drum kit*, keys*, other instruments with instructor consent
Acoustic Collective - voice, acoustic guitar, mandolin, banjo*, fiddle*, ukulele, upright bass*, other instruments with instructor consent
*There are no strict limits on any given instrument, but students on the instruments starred above should expect to sing or play a secondary instrument in the collective.

How many students are in each Collective?

Each Collective has a minimum enrollment of 10 students and a maximum of 18. Learn more about the class structure above under "How does a Collective rehearse?".

How does this fit into the school’s other teen programs?

Teen Arts Collectives have grown out of a whole range of classes and programs for youth and teens at Old Town School — and all of it will continue to prepare students for the Collectives experience!

Private lesson students can keep their current teacher, day, and time.

Our series of Teen Guitar classes are a great way for beginners to learn the basics they need for Collectives.

The Teen Rock Band Ensemble and Youth String Band classes prepare students for the Amplified and Acoustic Collectives with more guided support from their teacher and a shorter time commitment.

Teen Arts Collectives were directly inspired by our Teen Arts Camp. Every summer, our campers surprise and impress us with the projects they come up with. Former campers will quickly feel at home in a collective!

What is the cancellation policy?

If you wish to withdraw from Teen Arts Collectives, you must call or visit the front desk 48 hours in advance of your monthly billing date to avoid being charged for the upcoming month. If you withdraw after a monthly billing date, partial pro-rated credit is issued solely at the discretion of the School. The registration fee is non-refundable.

Missed Lessons, Cancellations, and Make-Up Lessons

Student Missed/Cancelled Lessons — There are no refunds or credits for lessons missed by the student. This includes any and all religious, bank, and government holidays for which the Old Town School remains open.

Teacher Missed/Cancelled Lessons — In the event a teacher cancels or misses a lesson and is not able to schedule a make-up lesson, the student will receive a credit for the missed lesson.

Rescheduling and/or make-up lessons are not the policy of the Old Town School of Folk Music. An individual teacher may elect to offer a make-up lesson due to an extenuating circumstance, however this is completely at the discretion of the teacher and is subject to teacher schedule and space availability.