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Teachers at the Old Town School

Paula McKernan

Guitar, Voice

Voice is our most personal and powerful instrument and meant to be shared. Paula helps students to hear, learn, and create music relating to the chordal blend. Her classes learn to see patterns, basic arranging, and often peek down rabbit holes and wander the amazing music, theory fractal. She employs technology, like forScore, to organize, share, chart, record, present, and practice. In 2017, she created an A Cappella Singing class with Renee Nanzer to arrange and experiment vocally across genres from Sweet Honey & the Rock through Prince and campfire rounds.

Guitar is a great choice for singers, with its unique timbres and textures offering a multitude of simple and complex options to create arrangements across genres. Focusing on pitch, texture, blending, and on melodic, harmonic, and rhythmic choices, her students learn movable chord shapes, interesting voicings, fingerpicking, and strums that complement singing. Adding a healthy dose of practical music theory, a pinch of capo, and mixing in good questions from musicians of all ages and stages, Paula teaches students to play and sing comfortably, building skills to enhance songs at any level.

Music is a wondrous and never ending journey. 
Paula studied music theory, history, a cappella, and choral performance at college. Joining the Old Town School of Folk Music to venture back into guitar (playing in over 15 different ensembles), she has continued learning and performing with this uniquely talented and welcoming community. She favors playing and singing: Singer-Songwriter, Jazz Standards, Folk-Rock, Women Songwriters, Alt Country, Americana, Campfire Songs & Rounds.

For more than 30 years, Paula has programmed, administered, taught, and advocated for the arts in the community. She plays well with others and has banded together with: The Possible Side Effects, Porch Swing, Altered Ego, Frets Away, The Switch, PB&J, Elton Jane, and as Paula the Bard solo and with guest artists.


Get in touch with Paula at paula.mckernan@oldtownschool.org.

Education: B.A. University of Michigan, Old Town School of Folk Music (since 2004) studied with: Steve Levitt, Andrea Bunch, Aerin Tedesco, Chris Winters, Bill Brickey, Alton Smith, Cathy Norden, Tom Ryan, Steve Dawson, Renee Nanzer, Chris Corsale, Dan Fulkerson, Barb Silverman, John Mead, Colby Mattox, Paul Kaye, Vanda Kay.

Started at the Old Town School in June of 2015


Group Classes for the session beginning 01/02/2023

Return To Guitar with Paula McKernan

$248 ($228 members)

01/02/2023 – 02/20/2023 (8 meetings)

Mondays · 10:00 AM – 11:20 AM · Online

A Cappella Singing with Paula McKernan

$248 ($228 members)

01/03/2023 – 02/21/2023 (8 meetings)

Tuesdays · 6:30 PM – 7:50 PM · In-Person @909 W Armitage Ave

Ukulele 1 with Paula McKernan

$248 ($228 members)

01/03/2023 – 02/21/2023 (8 meetings)

Tuesdays · 8:00 PM – 9:20 PM · In-Person @909 W Armitage Ave

Campfire Songbook with Paula McKernan

$248 ($228 members)

01/05/2023 – 02/23/2023 (8 meetings)

Thursdays · 6:30 PM – 7:50 PM · Online