Old Songs music classes

Old Songs 1.jpg

Looking for accordion lessons? Hammer dulcimer? Penny whistle? This is the place.

Here's something we thought looked kind of fun.

The people who host the Old Songs Music Festival and concerts series are about to begin another semester of music classes in old school instruments.

Old Songs is dedicated to preserving traditional folk music, and as part of their mission they'll teach you how to play it on everything from the accordion (yep, accordion lessons) and the penny whistle, to the ukulele and mountain dulcimer. A lot of the classes are open to beginners who may not even read music.

Old Songs director Andy Spence is passionate about preserving folk music. So much so that this non-musician has made it her life's work. "I've been too busy to learn to play," Andy says, "but I've loved this music since The Weavers." So 35 years ago, she and her husband, musician Bill Spence started Old Songs and started throwing concerts.

Old Songs instruments.jpg

The classes started a few years later, to help broaden their mission. "We teach a lot of beginners. There's nothing to replace the social life of getting together and learning to play music with other people." Says Andy, "Sure, you can do it on the computer on your own, but you miss the whole purpose of making music."

Beginning this month they're offering four- and six-week classes in penny whistle, accordion, dulcimer, mandolin, guitar, banjo, fiddle and even a music theory class. Some courses are more advanced than others, but Andy Spence says there's something there for every level. They teach classes in an old church turned concert hall in Voorheesville.

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Four-week classes are $80 and 6-week classes are $110. If you don't have an instrument, and you're not sure you're committed enough to buy one, they'll help arrange for you to borrow or rent one.

Spence says Ukulele is pretty popular right now -- no surprise, really. More of a surprise? The popularity of the accordion. "We're developing a very large accordion group. They had about 18 people show up for a jam recently."

Jams, she says, are common. "Sometimes our students will jam and sometimes they'll even get together and form bands."

Old songs jam session.jpg

They also offer slow sessions -- where groups of musicians get together to learn tunes slowly. "Maybe they don't read music and are learning by ear -- so they learn slowly and then they can play it faster or learn to play ornaments later."

In addition to learning the music, Spence says students take away a little history. "All people who play anything are modeling the people who came before," Spence says. "This music is a way of connecting to the people who came before you. It takes you to back to how people lived in the Ozarks and how people lived during the Civil War. It takes you to how people who came from England and Ireland and other places brought their tunes with them. They'll live forever as long as somebody plays them."

Find It

Old Songs
37 Main Street
Voorheesville , NY 12186


AOA, kindly stop listening to my thoughts. No lie, I was just planning today to look into finding accordion lessons when I got home tonight. (Also - thanks!)

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