The Old Town School of Folk Music in Chicago

This article is a collaborative effort, crafted and edited by a team of dedicated professionals.

Contributors: Andranick Tanguiane, Fred Lerdahl,


The Old Town School of Folk Music in Chicago is one of the most well-respected music schools in the country. With a rich history and a commitment to quality, the Old Town School is a great place to learn about and experience folk music.


The Old Town School of Folk Music is a music school in Chicago, Illinois, United States. Founded in 1957 by Bob Gibson and Win Stracke, it offers instruction in various folk styles, including bluegrass, blues, flamenco guitar, Celtic music, old-time music and gospel music. Classes are available on evenings and weekends for both children and adults.


The Old Town School of Folk Music is a music school in Chicago, Illinois, that teaches and promotes folk music. The school was founded in 1957 by Frank Hamilton, Win Stracke, and Mrs. Daphne Thompson with the support of Mayor Richard J. Daley. The school began in a donated church basement in the Old Town neighborhood on the city’s North Side.

Founded in 1957

The Old Town School of Folk Music is located in the Lincoln Park neighborhood on the north side of Chicago, Illinois. It was founded in 1957 by Win Stracke and Frank Goodman with the goal of teaching music to people from all walks of life in a folk style. The school offers classes in a variety of instruments, singing, and dance, as well as workshops and concerts. The Old Town School has been credited with helping to revive interest in folk music in the United States and has inspired a number of similar schools around the world.

Moved to current location in 1998

In 1998, the school moved to its current location in the Chicago neighborhood of Lincoln Park. The $9.5 million, three-story building at 4545 North Lincoln Avenue was designed by the architectural firm of Fletcher, Borza & Blanas and houses nine classrooms, two music halls, administrative offices, and practice and performance spaces.


The Old Town School of Folk Music in Chicago emphasizes teaching the traditions of many cultures from around the world. The school has a history of renowned musicians teaching and performing there. The school offers a wide variety of classes for students of all ages and levels of experience.

Music education for all ages

We believe that music education should be accessible to everyone, regardless of age, experience, or background. That’s why we offer a wide range of classes and programs for students of all ages—from toddlers to seniors—including those with special needs.

Our programs are led by experienced educators who are passionate about sharing their love of music with others. And our curriculum is designed to help students develop their musical skills in a supportive and fun environment.

Whether you’re looking for group classes, private lessons, or ensembles, we have something for everyone. Check out our offerings below and find the perfect fit for you or your child.

Performance opportunities

One of the ways we foster a love of music and dance is by providing opportunities for students to share their talents with friends, family, and the community. Our performance-based programming includes long-running community music and dance groups, mainstage concerts and events, participatory dances, and jam sessions that are open to the public. We also provide employment opportunities for our teaching artists in our Community Engagement programs.

Notable alumni

Since its founding in 1957, the Old Town School of Folk Music has become an incubator for some of the most celebrated names in folk, rock, and jazz. With over 10,000 alumni, the school has a long and storied history of incubating talent and helping artists find their voice. Some notable alumni include:

-John Prine
– Bonnie Koloc
-Steve Goodman
-Michael Smith

-Sergio Dias of Os Mutantes
-Jeff Tweedy of Wilco
-Susan Voelz of Poi Dog Pondering

-Eddie Harris


In conclusion, the Old Town School of Folk Music is a great place to learn about and experience folk music. With a wide variety of classes, concerts, and events, there is something for everyone at the Old Town School of Folk Music. If you are interested in folk music, or are just looking for a new place to experience music, the Old Town School of Folk Music is the perfect place for you.

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