Matt McGibany and Phil Waits, instructors at Folk School STL, perform with their band The Blu Skies.
ALTON — The Jacoby Arts Center and the Folk School of KDHX in St. Louis are offering traditional folk music classes at the Jacoby Arts Center starting today.
Organizers for the adult learning classes are taking reservations now for anyone who would like to learn the fiddle, guitar, or to play along with an ensemble. The website to sign up for classes is www.folkschoolstl.org or they can be reached at (314) 441-6062.
The eight-week sessions offered at the Jacoby Arts Center will be taught by Matt McGibany and Phillip Waits of Alton. McGibany has been with the Folk School for three years and is excited for classes to begin in Alton.
“I was born and raised here,” McGibany said. “It is good for the community that the school has expanded.”
Folk School leaders are interested in the communities where they provide classes.
“They are wanting to bring the community together,” McGibany said.
According to its mission statement, KDHX’s Folk School is building “community by providing educational programs that promote the learning, teaching, renewal, and perpetuation of traditional music and folk arts.”
The addition of classes at Jacoby Arts Center is a way for them to reach out to more people.
“They’ve expanded to increase community,” McGibany said.
McGibany said he hopes this expansion will provide economic and cultural growth for Alton. With both McGibany and Waits being familiar with the community and having an extensive background in folk music, that goal should be achievable.
McGibany begun his journey in music at age 14 when he began playing the guitar. After performing for many years, he learned the fiddle and began his journey into folk music. McGibany earned his experience teaching alongside Bobby Hicks at Hicks’ bluegrass fiddle camps in North Carolina, Illinois and Texas. He has been teaching privately for the past six years. Matt also has performed in a variety of bands from Cumberland Gap to Blu Skies, where Matt writes all of the original music.
McGibany started at the Folk School after he met the school’s executive director, Kelly Wells, at the Earth Day festival at Forest Park.
“She saw me play,” McGibany said. “She asked me if I would be willing to teach a fiddle class. And the rest is history.”
If the classes go well, the Folk School will be expanding to cater to the need. While the classes offered at Jacoby are tailored for adults, the main base in St. Louis’ Grand Center offers lessons for children. Twice a year at the main base, the school has performances at which students can showcase their new skills.