Teen Arts Collectives

Artist collectives are groups of artists who pool their talents and resources to work together, acting as co-creators and editors, mentors and learners. Now, students can get that same experience in one of Old Town School’s Teen Arts Collectives. Through a combination of group classes and private lessons, students learn to collaborate with other young artists and produce shows in real venues.

Registration for the Fall season opens July 13th, 2018. Students are encouraged to register by August 24th for the best selection of lesson times. The Fall season starts Tuesday, September 4th.

Info & FAQs

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

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 weekly group class, 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.


Collectives are divided by age range.
Teen Music Collective is recommended for students in grades 9-12. The required age minimum is 13.
Youth Music Collective is recommended for students in grades 6-8. The required age range is 11-13.

When are the group classes/rehearsals?

Teen Music Collective meets on Fridays from 5:30-7:30pm at Lincoln Square.
Youth Music Collective meets on Tuesdays from 5:30-7:00pm at Lincoln Square.

When are the private lessons?

Old Town School offers private lessons seven days a week at our locations in Lincoln Square and at 909 W. Armitage. Students can schedule their private lesson at any available time. Of course, students already taking lessons at Old Town School can keep their current teacher and time!

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.


Tuition is paid through a monthly automatic charge to your credit/debit card and includes your collective’s weekly group class and your weekly private lesson. Monthly tuition is based on the length of your private lesson, and lessons can be scheduled for 30, 45, or 60 minutes per week. A $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.


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.


If we teach it at Old Town School, you can probably do it in a collective! Collective members take lessons in voice, piano, guitar, bass, ukulele, mandolin, banjo, drums, fiddle/violin, cello and more. Collectives can cover a wide variety of genres and styles, and depending on the needs of the group, many students will sing or pick up a secondary instrument. All students are expected to stretch themselves in terms of musical style and ability. If you have a question about your instrument, contact Program Manager Ian Wilson at iwilson@oldtownschool.org.

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.

Students who have never played in a group before can get a primer in one of Old Town School’s ensemble classes. For students ages 12 and up, check out Teen Rock Band Ensemble. For younger students, check out Youth String Band, Kids’ Ensemble, or Advanced Kids’ Ensemble.

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.