Claremont’s Folk Music Center

Folk music often conjures up images of a lone singer accompanied by an enormous acoustic guitar, belting out poignant protest songs with intense emotion.

Folk music has many nuances which are difficult to define. Established in 1958, the folk music center has been an integral part of Claremont’s music scene for decades.

Music store

The music store at the folk music center is an amazing collection of acoustic instruments, musical accessories and other instruments from around the world. Additionally, it serves as an important resource for budding musicians by offering classes and workshops.

This shop, owned by Grammy-winning singer-songwriter Ben Harper’s family, displays hundreds of instruments from around the world. Customers can explore, touch and play them as well as buy or sell them. Plus they offer appraisals for instruments plus host live performances.

Are you interested in learning a new instrument? The folk music center offers beginner and advanced classes as well as books, sheet music, and t-shirts to get you started.

Musical instrument stores abound throughout the city, but one shop in Claremont stands out above all others. This shoebox store stocks an eclectic range of instruments from guitars to keyboards and analog synths – both new and pre-owned.

In an increasingly digital-driven world, it’s refreshing to find a mom-and-pop music store still around. At Folk Music Center, customers come first and staff members treat everyone with respect and fairness. It makes a change from other establishments where customers come first.

Contrary to what one might expect, the Folk Music Center staff members don’t just work here for financial gain; they genuinely love music and want to share it with you.

They are more than happy to assist you in finding what you need, whether that be a banjo or ukulele. They provide lessons on various instruments and have a listening room where customers can try out instruments before making their purchase.

The folk music center has a longstanding reputation of kindness and warmth, which is why it remains open 60 years after being founded by Charles and Dorothy Chase.

In 1958, Chase opened his store and started teaching music lessons to local children as well as repairing instruments. His mission was simple: everyone should have the chance to create and enjoy music.


For anyone considering learning to play a musical instrument, the museum at Folk Music Center should not be missed. It boasts an impressive collection of vintage and contemporary instruments as well as classes to help enhance skills.

The highlight of the museum is its playing area, where visitors can try their hand at various instruments and listen to how they sound. There are both classic stringed instruments as well as more modern guitars, violins, banjos, and chimes.

Fans of American music can explore numerous exhibits, such as Roots of American Music and Smithsonian Folklife Collection. Plus, there are plenty of events throughout the year from open mic nights to concerts and dances!

No doubt, the Blue Ridge Music Center in Virginia has earned itself a great deal of accolades in regards to folk music. This museum houses instruments and displays that tell the story of how an African five string banjo and European fiddle came together, creating a synthesis that has spawned virtually all forms of American music today.

Visit the Museum of Greek Folk Musical Instruments in Athens, Greece for an impressive museum. Here you can witness the world’s largest hurdy gurdy as well as many other ancient instruments and artifacts.

Finally, the Folk Music Center in Claremont, California is a three-part operation comprised of a music store, museum and instruction center. Established in 1958, this center stands as a testament to the folk music scene from yesteryear. From its humble beginnings it has blossomed into an important cultural and educational resource for its surrounding community; NAMM’s Resource Center team recently visited to learn about its remarkable past.

Performance stage

The Claremont Folk Music Center has been a beloved destination for those interested in acoustic music and those learning an instrument for over 60 years, serving as an early indicator of the folk revival that began in the 1950s.

In the beginning, Greenwich Village’s best coffee shops served as the hub of a vibrant folk music scene that produced icons like Odetta and Pete Seeger. Nowadays, there are an increasing number of venues throughout Chicago where fans can get their fill of traditional Americana.

Particularly in East Village, where Old Town School of Folk Music is headquartered and also houses the Folk Music Center – a store selling instruments and other related items related to folk music as well as an active performing arts program. The center provides various activities for its members and community members alike including classes for children and adults as well as concert series featuring national and international folk musicians.

One of the center’s earliest attractions is a performance stage that hosts occasional concerts. Here, an intimate audience sits on folding chairs to watch a performer sing and play within an intimate space. These performances often feature singers who can communicate directly with attendees.

Aside from music, the center also serves as a museum that displays various artifacts related to folk music’s history. These include photos of artists such as Odetta and folk singer Frank Hamilton, along with handwritten lyrics written in 19th-century by Bess Lomax Hawes.

Photographs and memorabilia from various musical genres, such as jazz and blues, can be seen throughout the building. The archivists are happy to answer questions about what you see there.

Another highlight of the center is the Craft Village, home to over 20 working artisans who showcase their skills and sell handmade goods Tuesday through Saturday during peak season. These talented individuals craft everything from flame-painted copper jewelry and leather purses and goods, baskets, brooms, stained glass, ironwork, pottery knives weaving quilts wood carvings – you name it!


Since 1957, The Folk Music Center has been offering classes to all in its community. As America’s largest non-profit community arts school, it teaches various folk music traditions to both adults and children alike.

The center offers a range of classes to meet the needs of all ages, including Wiggleworms for toddlers, Dalcroze Eurhythmics for seniors, ensemble performance and guitars for growth – which provide lessons to incarcerated teens at Cook County juvenile detention facilities. Furthermore, its expert teachers provide arts education to thousands of Chicago Public School students through programs like Wiggleworms-in-Residence and Guitars for Growth.

Folk music is an expression of culture and often draws from oral tradition. It encompasses a range of songs, dances and instruments associated with specific regions or communities. These styles remain popular today and can be passed on through singing, playing or re-creating them together in group settings.

In the United Kingdom, typical instrumentation includes voice, violin (known as fiddle in folk context), acoustic guitar, flute, whistle and pipes; accordion, melodeon mandolin harmonica tenor banjo. There are also many lesser-known instruments like spoons or bones as well as more unusual ones like hurdy-gurdy or bazouki.

These musical genres have profoundly shaped the works of classical composers throughout history. Edvard Grieg, for instance, adopted the music of his home country and used it in many compositions. French masters like Bizet and Ravel similarly took inspiration from Spain and northern Europe for their works.

The music of the British Isles is renowned, having been passed down through generations and still played in many communities around the island.

Other countries with a rich tradition of traditional music include the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland. These regions have had an immense impact on classical music over time, from Franz Liszt to more contemporary works by Antonin Dvorak, Bela Bartok, Zoltan Kodaly, Jean Sibelius, Isaac Albeniz and Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov.