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Services : Lessons & Workshops

Our lessons program is the School of Musical Traditions, located in Takoma Park, MD.

SMT has now relocated to a new location called Takoma SPARK at 7112 Willow Ave (behind Willow Street Yoga). This space includes more lessons rooms in a single-story, handicapped-accessible building, and a larger event/workshop space. Parking is available, and it's just 2 blocks from the Takoma Metro.  



Virtual private lessons (via Zoom) are also offered. Contact SMT directly for more information about scheduling private lessons, or to sign up for the group workshops listed below.

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, and various options to register by month, term, or by-lesson are offered). More information on fees and registration can be found on SMT's website

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 & Events:

Unless otherwise specified, all listed below are held at SMT's Takoma Spark location: 7112 Willow Ave, Takoma Park, MD.

FREE Biweekly Bluegrass Jam:
Held on alternate Thursdays, 7-9pm.
Free, but pre-registration is required as attendance is limited. Led by the Cherry Blossom Special band, 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. Next jams 1/12, 1/26, 2/9, 2/23. 

FREE Open Mic:
Held every Tuesday, 7pm (until 9-9:30). Hosted by Rob Hinkal & co-sponsored by Institute of Musical Traditions. Signup begins at 6pm. Slots are 2 songs/10 minutes, all genres/poetry welcome. No amps or drum kits. The evening is also live-streamed on IMT's Facebook & YouTube. Follow Rob's Open Mics on Facebook for more info and updates to weekly events.

Adult Old-Time String Band w/Jonathan Vocke
Wednesdays, Jan 11, 25, Feb 1 & 15, 7:30-8:30pm, $125

This class is open to adults 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.

Fiddle Workshop with Mari Carlson:
Sunday February 26, 1-2:30pm, $40.
So, you can pretty much play the right notes at the right time, but it still doesn’t sound right. What is the key to that fiddle sound? Using “Boil ‘Em Cabbage” and “Crawdad”, we’ll practice Five Fiddle Techniques:

  • Stepping to the beat
  • Using the left hand pinky
  • Bow articulation
  • Basic improv
  • Singing and playing at the same time

Students should bring their own instrument and be able to play a couple of basic tunes. This workshop is geared towards adult and high school learners. Students under the age of 16 should speak to us prior to registration.

Bluegrass Class w/Cherry Blossom Special
Thursdays, April 6, 20, May 4, 18, June 1, 15, 7:00 – 8:00 PM, $150

Learn how to play in a bluegrass ensemble with other beginner-to-intermediate musicians! Come with your fiddle, guitar, mandolin, banjo, or bass – or the willingness to learn a new instrument. With the guidance of Cherry Blossom Special (with SMT teachers, Mari Carlson, Justin Heath, and Nick Cameron), you will learn how to play and sing with proper technique, blend in a group on your instrument and voice, and prepare for a performance. This class is open to middle school age students and above (students under the age of 12 should speak to us prior to registration). The class will culminate in a recital, in which the group will be the opening act for Cherry Blossom Special. Come join the band!

Learn to Sing w/Nick Cameron
Thursdays, April 6, 20, May 4, 18, June 1, 15, 8:00 – 9:00 PM
Learn how to use your voice in a stress-free environment. Over the course of 6 sessions, we will cover the anatomy of the voice, warmups and stretches, how to use your vocal instrument and breathe with proper technique, and how to deliver an engaging performance. The class will practice singing a song as a group, and those who wish to develop a solo will have the no-pressure option to do so. Beyond developing your singing skills, this class will strengthen your speaking voice and improve your confidence. The class will culminate in a casual performance; details determined with group input at the first class.