The Old Town School of Folk Music in Lincoln Square

Learn about the history of the Old Town School of Folk Music in Lincoln Square, and how it has become a staple in the folk music community.


The Old Town School of Folk Music is a world-renowned music school with two locations in Chicago, Illinois. The school offers classes and private instruction in a wide variety of musical genres and instruments, with a focus on folk music. The Lincoln Square location is the original campus, founded in 1957 by Frank Goodman and Mary Freise. The school has been located in Lincoln Square since 1974.

The Old Town School of Folk Music is more than just a music school; it is also a cultural center that hosts concerts, dance performances, and other events open to the public. The school’s mission is to “build community through music.” With this mission in mind, the school offers a variety of programs aimed at making music accessible to everyone, regardless of age, experience, or background.


The Old Town School of Folk Music is an American music school, known for its teaching of folk music. The school was founded in Chicago in 1957 by Frank Hamilton, who later co-founded the Chicago Folk Festival. The school moved to its current location in Lincoln Square in 1964. The school has been credited with helping to revive interest in folk music in the United States.

Founded in 1957

The Old Town School of Folk Music is a music school in Chicago, Illinois, United States, teaching folk music and related musical disciplines. It was founded in August 1957 by Frank Hamilton, Win Stracke and Dave Plummer. The first location was on Armitage Avenue in the Lincoln Park neighborhood on the city’s North Side. By 1961, Old Town had become so successful that it outgrew its original quarters and had to move to its current site at 909 W. Armitage Ave., also in Lincoln Park. In 1998, the school purchased the building next door at 915 W. Armitage Ave., which allowed it to expand its programming and facilities.

Moved to Lincoln Square in 1964

In 1957, the Old Town School of Folk Music relocated from its Humboldt Park location to 909 West Armitage Avenue, in Lincoln Park. In 1964, the school found itself displaced by the construction of Lincoln Park Plaza. The school took over the former Liberal Arts College campus at 909 West Addison Street in Lincoln Square near Ravenswood.


The Old Town School of Folk Music in Lincoln Square offers a variety of programs for all levels and interests. Classes are available for those who want to learn an instrument, sing, or dance. The school also offers private lessons, ensembles, and workshops. There is something for everyone at the Old Town School of Folk Music in Lincoln Square.

Music instruction for all ages

Since 1957, The Old Town School of Folk Music has been teaching people of all ages, abilities and backgrounds to play folk instruments and sing folk songs from all over the world. With locations in Chicago’s Lincoln Square and Lakeview neighborhoods, the School offers classes, private instruction, concerts and other programming year-round for people of all ages.

The Old Town School’s renowned Music Education Center provides high-quality music instruction for students of all ages, led by a faculty of more than 200 accomplished musicians. The Center’s classrooms are equipped with state-of-the-art technology, including digital pianos, flat-screen TVs and interactive whiteboards. All classes are taught in six-week cycles, with new cycles starting every few months.

The Old Town School’s music instruction programs include:

· Early Childhood Music: A research-based curriculum for infants, toddlers and preschoolers that helps them develop their musical abilities through singing, clapping games, dancing and playing simple instruments.

· Group Guitar: A fun and supportive environment where absolute beginners can learn the basics of playing guitar – no experience necessary!

· Private Lessons: One-on-one instruction tailored to each student’s individual needs and interests. Students can choose from a wide range of instruments, including guitar, piano, voice, drums, violin and more.

· Concerts: The Old Town School presents more than 700 concerts each year featuring a wide variety of folk and world music styles. Concerts are open to the public and take place at the School’s two locations in Lincoln Square and Lakeview.

Concerts and events

The Old Town School of Folk Music presents hundreds of concerts and events each year. These include performances by world-renowned artists, free community events, and educational programs for all ages.

The vast majority of our concerts take place in our two theaters: the Mainstage Theater and the Gary and Laura Maurer Concert Hall. Additionally, we offer a wide variety of music education programs for students of all ages and levels of experience.

Notable alumni

Old Town School of Folk Music alumni include musicians from a wide range of genres, including: country music singer-songwriter and musician John Prine; rock singer-songwriter and musician Bonnie Raitt; folk singer-songwriter and musician Steve Goodman; jazz singer-songwriter and musician Kurt Elling; blues singer-songwriter and musician Otis Rush; bluegrass singer-songwriter and musician Nickel Creek; gospel, soul, and R&B singer Mavis Staples; pop singer-songwriter Suzanne Vega; rockabilly singer-songwriter and musician Brian Setzer; folk rock singer-songwriter Paul Simon; jazz musicians Frank D’Rone, Neal Creque, Joey DeFrancesco, Eric Kloss, Von Freeman, Ira Sullivan, Howard Levy, and Harrison Bankhead.


In conclusion, the Old Town School of Folk Music in Lincoln Square is a great place to learn about and experience folk music. The school offers a variety of classes, performances, and events that are perfect for anyone interested in this genre of music. If you’re looking for a fun and educational activity, be sure to check out the Old Town School of Folk Music in Lincoln Square.

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