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Services : Lessons & Workshops

Our lessons program is the School of Musical Traditions, with locations in Rockville and Takoma Park, MD.

SMT is happy to announce that in-person lessons are available again in our Rockville and Takoma Park studios! Some of our teachers have returned on a weekly or biweekly basis, with more teachers planning to return to the studio over the summer and into the fall. Currently, masks are required for all students and teachers doing in-person lessons. All of our teachers will continue to offer virtual lessons. Contact SMT directly for more information about scheduling.

School of Musical Traditions w locations in Takoma Park & Rockville, MD

School of Musical Traditions has a staff of expert teachers offering one-to-one and duo lessons on the following instruments:

- guitar (acoustic and electric)
- voice 
- piano
- 5-string banjo
- mandolin
- ukulele

- violin/fiddle

- viola 
- cello

- bass (upright & bass guitar)
- flute
- clarinet
- saxophone
- accordion
- recorder / early music
- harp (lever & pedal)
- topics such as theory, songwriting, composition, recording & arranging

We teach all ages and a variety of styles, including folk, rock, blues, pop, jazz, and classical. Lessons are also available for composition, film scoring, music theory, jazz theory & improv, songwriting and recording.

If you don't see the instrument you want to study listed above, please contact SMT. We maintain a network of other area teachers and can provide referrals for instruments such as trumpet, dulcimer (hammered & lap), harp, harmonica, didgeridoo, drums/percussion and more.

Lessons start at $40 per half hour (45 and 60 minute lessons are also available). More information on fees and registration can be found on SMT's website. In-person lessons are held at our studios: 1057 Rockville Pike (Rockville, MD) and 7008 Westmoreland Ave (Takoma Park, MD - next door to House of Musical Traditions). We're convenient to Silver Spring and the greater DC area - and just a couple of blocks from the Takoma Park Red Line Metro stop!

To register for lessons and for more information, please call 240-690-1910 or email . You can also visit to fill out an inquiry form online.

SMT also offers group classes and workshops. Visit their website to view the current schedule & register online.

Upcoming SMT Group Classes/Workshops:

FREE Biweekly Old-Time Jam:
Held on alternate Thursdays, beginning October 14 at SMT's Rockville location. 7-8pm.
Free, but pre-registration is required as attendance is limited to 10 people. Mari Carlson and Justin Heath lead a bi-weekly old-time jam for high school students and adults looking to build their jamming chops. They will lead standard tunes from the old-time repertoire and help you out if you get lost in the chords. Jammers should know at least the basics of their instrument so they can play along with the group.

Youth Old-Time Stringband w/Jonathan Vocke
Thursdays, October 21st - November 11th, 7:30-8:30-pm at SMT's Rockville location. This workshop is open to all youths age 10-18 interested in learning how to play traditional string band music in a group setting. Over the course of our four meetings we will be learning and practicing 3-4 tunes. This class is open to all instruments but band members should come to the class knowing the basic techniques to play their instruments. At the end of the class, we may even perform a little concert for our friends and family members.

Old-time & Bluegrass Rhythm Guitar w/Jonathan Vocke
Thursdays, October 21st - November 11th, 8:30-9:30-pm at SMT's Rockville location. In this class we introduce you to the art of rhythm guitar. We will be using classic traditional fiddle tunes to explore how one hears chord changes, chooses chords, does bass runs into chords, boom-chucks with a good groove. We will also be learning some common bass runs for playing in the keys of A, D, C, and G without a capo. The course will include an explanation of how to use the number system (1, 4, 5) to your advantage when hearing a tune for the first time, as well as other tips for playing with others.

*ONLINE* Beginner 2 Ukulele: Learn More Strumming Patterns with Maureen Andary
Saturdays, October 23rd - November 20, 10-11am EST. Held on Zoom.
Lemme guess: you can make some chords but your left hand is stuck in a rut? Then this is the class for you! We will use easy to sing, straightforward pop and folk standards to get you comfortable moving your right hand. We’ll explore different styles of music – waltzes, power pop, & country for instance. And most importantly we will go SLOWLY, taking you through each beat of the rhythm, to demystify the baffling skill of strumming. This class is for someone who knows 3 or 4 chords, can play a song or two, but has run out of ideas or skills to do anything more than a basic strum. This Beginner 2 class will use Maureen’s original arrangements of tab and chord charts in an easy to read online format. Can’t make a class? Don’t worry! All classes will be recorded and shared to google drive!

*ONLINE* Intermediate Ukulele: Classic Rock & Pop with Maureen Andary
Saturdays, October 23 - November 20, 11am-12pm EST. Held on Zoom.
Grab your tiny AXE and play around with some classic rock riffs and power pop tunes. This intermediate class will use Maureen’s original arrangements of tab and chord charts in an easy to read online format. Can’t make a class? Don’t worry! All classes will be recorded and shared to google drive!

Flatpicking Guitar with Justin Heath:
Saturdays, October 23rd - November 13th, 12:30-1:30pm, at SMT's Takoma Park studio.
For beginner to intermediate guitarists who have a strong foundation in the basic chords and simple single note playing. Students will learn essential exercises to improve flatpicking technique and several bluegrass songs and fiddle tunes in G, C, A, and D. We will also have a chance to look at some typical bluegrass licks and learn how to use them in improvised solos. Jamming is encouraged! Ages 12 and up. Mask protocols will be observed in the building and during class.

Introductory Taiko Workshops w/Mark H Rooney: 
- Sunday December 5, 5-8pm
$50; held at the Dance Exchange in Takoma Park, MD
Ever wonder what it’s like to play a drum with your whole body? Learn the powerful and dynamic art of Japanese drumming with Mark H Rooney. Taiko is a dynamic art form based on traditional Japanese drumming practiced all over the world. This workshop is designed to introduce the basics of taiko technique, practice of kumidaiko (ensemble drumming), awareness of ki (energy), use of koe (voice), history and philosophy — all while having a good time! No experience necessary, but come ready for a workout! Ages 17 and up. 

*ONLINE* Bluegrass Banjo Improvisation with Ira Gitlin
Mondays, October 25 - November 15, 7-8pm EST. Held on Zoom.
Whether we’re playing professionally on stage or socially in a jam session, as banjo players we often have to play solos on the spur of the moment. In this four-session class  aimed at students who have a basic grasp of Scruggs-style playing, we’ll discuss how improvisation works, and we’ll look at several approaches to “faking” a bluegrass banjo solo, using standard licks, chord positions, and rolls. These skills will help you feel more at home on your instrument, and in any playing situation you find yourself in.