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Updated May 9, 2022: Masks are strongly recommended on campus and vaccination or negative covid test is required for entry. Please view our Health & Safety page for specific policy details for in-person classes and concerts. »

Choose the Right Class!

The Old Town School of Folk Music has a large catalog of classes available, and we know it can be a little daunting to decide where to start! This guide is here to help make your choices a little easier, but we're always here to help. Our customer service folks are standing by to make sure you get started in the right place.

Once you're enrolled in a class, if you find your class a little too easy, too difficult, or just want a different teacher - we will help to make sure you find the perfect placement for you! Our goal is to ensure your Old Town School experience is inspiring, fun, and rewarding - so if you have a question, just ask!

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I'm a Total Beginner!

Many of our programs, including the core Guitar program, feature both skills classes and repertoire (rep) Classes. Skills classes teach you the basic techniques necessary to advance through the program. Repertoire classes reinforce skills and focus on playing more songs using learned techniques.

Guitar 1

Many of our students begin their musical adventures in Guitar 1. It's a great starter to learn the skills to help you advance through the guitar program and set the stage for other instruments and specialties throughout the catalog. Learn how to tune and we get you playing a song during your first class!

Browse Guitar 1 Classes

Other great starting points for folks new to music classes:

Voice Classes Ukulele Classes Piano

Looking For Dance & Movement?

Old Town School's international dance program is one of the largest and most diverse in Chicago. Dance and movement classes are great ways to get movement, rhythm, and body awareness into your life - all bodies and skill levels welcome.

Browse Dance & Movement Classes

I'm a Self-Taught Guitarist!

Many new musicians start by playing with videos online. If you're able to play along with videos and can tune and hold your guitar, we suggest you start with Guitar 1 Repertoire or Guitar 2.

Not sure what your skill levels are? Take the Guitar Placement Quiz below.

Guitar Placement Quiz Guitar 1 Rep Guitar 2

It's Been a While Since I Played Guitar!

If you're coming back to guitar classes after a break, there's all sorts of opportunities in our catalog. Take our Guitar Placement Quiz below.

Not sure what your skill levels are? Take the Guitar Placement Quiz below.

Guitar Placement Quiz

If you used to play and you understand how to read basic open chord diagrams, but you need to work on changing chords smoothly and sounding musical, Guitar 1 Repertoire or Guitar 2 will help enhance your talent.

Guitar 1 Rep Guitar 2

Songwriting & Theory Classes

If you are a guitar player looking for instruction to further your creative output, consider our songwriting and theory classes. Old Town School provides a rich curriculum in songwriting and theory to provide a deeper understanding of music. Our classes and workshops are led by accomplished songwriters who create a welcoming environment to help launch your creativity.

We suggest all guitar students consider starting with Guitar Fingerboard Theory, if you want to work on lead guitar or eventually write your own songs. It's a great primer into a wider world of musicianship.

Browse Songwriting & Theory Classes Guitar Fingerboard Theory

Ensembles, Specialty, & Technique Classes

If you already can play guitar it's time to expand your abilities with the guidance of our expert teaching artists. We offer a robust range of specific skill classes including: Blues, Bluegrass, Fingerstyle, Pop/Rock, Jazz, Country, Old Time, World Music and more. There are also classes that address distinct elements of guitar playing: Fingerboard Theory, Lead, Rhythm, Fingerpicking, Flatpicking, Slide, Chord Vocabulary, Electric Guitar, Bass and others.

If you're ready to join the band, put your skills to the test and consider joining an ensemble class! Ensembles are generally 8-14 musicians on different instruments together. You'll find everything in the ensemble program from exploring one artist or band's discography to tackling different genres and delving into your favorite record label.

Have a group you already jam with? Considering joining an ensemble together!

Ensemble classes have a recommended level of Guitar 3 skills and up. Not quite sure where your skills fit? Visit our Guitar Placement Quiz below.

Browse Specialty & Technique Classes Browse Ensemble Classes

Guitar Placement Quiz

A few quick questions to help you figure out what class is right for you.

Should you find yourself in a class that is either too slow or way above your personal level of play, no problem – Call our front desk at 773-728-6000 or reach our Guitar Program Manager Eric Singh at 773-751-3371 or via email esingh@oldtownschool.org. We're here to help make sure your Old Town School guitar experience is a great one!

Can you play A, C, D, E, G and a few other basic minor and 7th chords in first position?

If not, join Guitar 1.


Can you change basic open chords smoothly and in rhythm?

If not, join Guitar 1 Repertoire


Can you play a simple 3 or 4 chord song all the way through?

If not, join Guitar 1 Repertoire


Are you familiar with basic chords in the keys of A, C, D, E, and G, which include the challenging F chord and others?

If not, join Guitar 2


While strumming guitar, can you embellish your chords with bass runs and suspensions?

If not, join Guitar 2 Repertoire


Are you self taught via the internet, books, or other means and not sure where to enter our core guitar program?

Join Guitar 2 Repertoire


Are you familiar with barre chords and movable shapes up the guitar neck?

If not, join Guitar 3


Are you mildly comfortable with barre chords and want to build your song repertoire?

Join Guitar 3 Repertoire


Are you ready to get better at flatpicking and simple fingerpicking?

Join Guitar 4.


Are you a confident acoustic guitar player looking to build repertoire and play with other like-minded folks?

Join Guitar 4Ever or Extended Play.