Teachers at the Old Town School

Mary Grimes-Kelly


Mary comes to the Old Town School of Folk Music with over 40 years of experience in the field of aging and a music background that includes performance in piano, voice and choir leadership. Mary studied voice at the Chicago Conservatory of Music and Rosary College in River Forest and piano at Rosary College.

Under her leadership as Director of the Irish Heritage Singers of the Irish American Heritage Center, the Singers sang at the Chicago Theater in a performance with Frank McNamara, director and producer of the Irish Tenors. She wrote, produced and directed the Irish Heritage Singers in a performance of “The History of the Jews in Ireland” to a standing room only crowd and followed with another show “Finnegan’s Wake” again to a standing room only crowd. Mary sang at Symphony Center with Kol Zimrah in “How the Jews and the Irish Saved the World” with Martin Sheen as narrator. Among her musical accomplishments was singing the National Anthem at a Bulls game to a crowd of about 25,000 people. Mary is also proud to be a co-founder of the Old Town School of Folk Music Community Choir.

Mary served as the Associate State Director of the Illinois Office for AARP and traveled the state teaching volunteers and residents about issues that affect older adults. Her experience in the field of aging also includes directing services and programs for older adults, supervising a senior center, marketing senior living communities and as the Director of Resident Services at a local senior community in Chicago. Mary has performed and led sing-alongs with older adults throughout the years and has reached people with dementia by using singing as a way to engage people and bring joy back into their lives.

Started at the Old Town School in May of 2016

Group Classes for the session beginning 03/04/2019

Memory Singers: Voices of the Heart with Mary Grimes-Kelly

This group offers everyone a fun and authentic musical experience by tapping into the brain’s remarkable ability to creatively engage in the moment through music. Current research finds that many people with memory loss learn to move better, remember more, and even regain speech through listening to and playing music. Old Town School’s Memory Singers draws upon the rich traditions of American and world music forms known and cherished for generations. Members sing a variety of songs, learn vocal technique and ensemble skills, and share musical memories together. The experience also helps reduce the stress and anxiety of care giving by allowing both the caregiver and person they care for to take a needed respite from their roles. No vocal experience is required, just a love of singing. Note: Each registration requires a partner registration.

$136 ($126 members)

03/06/2019 – 04/24/2019 (8 meetings)

Wednesdays · 10:00 AM – 11:30 AM · 4544 N Lincoln Ave