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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 relative to the chordal blend. 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, tone, blending, and on melodic, harmonic, and rhythmic choices, her guitar students learn movable chord shapes, interesting voicings, fingerpicking, and strums that complement voice. Adding a healthy dose of music theory, a pinch of capo, and mixing in good questions from musicians of all ages and stages, Paula teaches students to play guitar 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 capella, and choral performance at college. Joining the Old Town School to venture back into guitar, she has continued learning and performing with this uniquely talented and welcoming community. She favors playing and singing: Jazz, Folk-Rock, Singer-Songwriter, Chick-Rock, Blues, Americana, campfire songs & rounds.

For more than 20 years, Paula has programmed, administered, and advocated for the arts in the community. In 2011, she created Girl Scouts SING! (a large scale sing-a-long) for Evanston and Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana and began creating vocal and thematic musical workshops for girls ages 5-18 years and their troop leaders. She plays well with others, started a local gathering called Jam Packed, and has banded together with: The Possible Side Effects, Porch Swing, Altered Ego, Frets Away, The Switch, and as Paula the Bard solo or with guest artists. Currently, she is writing and arranging originals for her second album, performing for private events, Singer-Songwriter Showcases and local venues, teaching Core Guitar classes, workshops and private lessons.

Get in touch with Paula at

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, and Barb Silverman.

Started at the Old Town School in June of 2015

Group Classes for the session beginning 01/03/2022

Guitar 2 Repertoire with Paula McKernan

$214 ($194 members)

01/05/2022 – 02/23/2022 (8 meetings)

Wednesdays · 6:30 PM – 7:50 PM · In-Person @4545 N Lincoln Ave

Arranging and Chart Making: Using Practical Music Theory and Apps with Paula McKernan

$99 ($89 members)

01/31/2022 – 02/21/2022 (4 meetings)

Mondays · 6:30 PM – 7:50 PM · Online