Recipient of the Old Town School of Folk Music's 2015 Distinguished Teaching Artist Award
Recipient Jubilation Foundation Two-Year Fellowship - 2017/2018
An experienced and dedicated educator, Jason inspires children, adults, and families, not to produce musicians, but to support the creation of musical lives.
Jason began teaching children to play the guitar in 2003 (Wiggleworms since 2010), and teaching the young generation quickly became his passion. He emphasizes musicianship, technique and . . . FUN!, in both his private lessons and his group teaching. As he often reminds students that, “It’s called ‘playing’ music for a reason. We’re not here to practice music. WE’RE HERE TO PLAY IT!”
Private lessons are a combination of note reading, learning by ear, and composition/songwriting.
Jason began teaching adults in 2005. His adult group classes emphasize playing as an ensemble, proper technique and, like his kids classes, having fun playing music.
In 2008, Jason brought back the long-dormant Old Town School tradition of The Gather-All. The Gather-All is an all ages, all instruments, all levels jam. Everyone is welcome. Come ready to sing! Jason says, “Bring only what you have and nothing more.”
In addition to many community events like the Gather-All, Jason also creates space for students to perform. His students have performed at such diverse venues as
• Pritzker Pavilion at Millennium Park
• The Taste of Chicago
• Square Roots Festival
• The Chicago Folk and Roots Festival
• Made in Chicago Festival
• University of Chicago Folk Festival
• The Hideout
• The Beat Kitchen
Also, Jason and his student have jammed with national artists such as Roger McGuinn, Dan Zanes, Ella Jenkins, Bruce Molsky, and Mark Dvorak.
Jason spent the summers of 2008 and 2010 in Cuernavaca, México, learning to speak Spanish and making many friends. “Aprendí mucho y toqué mucha música. Mi tiempo en México estuvo super chido!”
In addition, as the older brother of a sister with autism, Jason is in a unique position to combine his teaching knowledge with his real world experience working with special-needs children and their families.
In 1992, Jason saved the money from his paper route to by his first guitar, a red electric Epiphone that looked like a Stratocaster.
“Jason McInnes is a patient, nurturing and amazing music teacher. My son had a hard time adjusting at first because it was a new and different class from the one we had taken the last two sessions. Eventually, he grew to enjoy it. I love the songs Jason was teaching the class. He had just enough structure to the class. It taught the kids about taking turns, what to anticipate would happen next, and how to listen. Good skills for preschool.” - Wiggle N Strum Parent
Education: B.A. Liberal Arts - Documentary Film
Columbia College, 2000
Started at the Old Town School in October of 2002