Michigan Academy of Folk Music

The Michigan Academy of Folk Music provides a learning opportunity for musicians (or soon-to-be musicians) of all ages and experience levels.

Students will be immersed in a traditional group learning atmosphere, experiencing American folk music through an authentic social context. The challenges of the American folk song and fiddle tune repertoire will push students to go beyond the page and experience music as first and foremost a social activity. While gaining confidence through ensemble playing and improvisation, students will grow and develop not only as technicians of their instrument, but also as truly creative musicians.


We offer a wide selection of courses and workshops, which combine expert instruction with an informal, casual and social learning environment.

We believe that music education is most effective when students are not only challenged, but also stimulated socially in an atmosphere which is encouraging, rather than competitive and intimidating.

Our classes and workshops exist to allow students to experience music at its most fundamental level: as a shared expression of the human experience.


Students are encouraged to register not only for instrument-specific classes, but also for our student ensembles, which pair them with students of similar experience levels who are studying other instruments.

These ensembles will meet for a weekly rehearsal and will receive group instruction on general ensemble musicianship.

Topics discussed will include ear training, improvisation, group interaction, accompaniment styles and other relevant “band etiquette” topics.


Each class will use its own individually created method materials, which use a combination of traditional American repertoire and instrument-specific exercises to develop skill in all areas of playing.

Each student enrolled in an instrumental class will receive access to a library of play-along recordings for the songs they will be learning. Each track features a song from the method book played by a full bluegrass band, played at several different speeds, leaving out only the lead part (that would be you!).


Instrumental classes include:

  • Banjo (Bluegrass): Beginner Group Class
  • Fiddle: Beginner Group Class
  • Guitar (Flatpicking): Beginner Group Class
  • Mandolin: Beginner Group Class
  • Ukulele: Beginner Group Class
Find detailed information about each class in our courses list

Lecture classes include:

  • Improvisation/Music Theory Lab
  • Songwriting Workshop
Find detailed information about each class in our courses list
This bluegrass jam session is free and open to the public, and all instruments and ability levels are welcome! These occur on the third Thursday of every month from 6:30-8:30 p.m. in the Jack H. Miller Center for Musical Arts. The first hour serves as a slow jam, with an educational element mixed in. We slowly walk through common songs, calling out chords and practicing as a group before we jump into playing. After the first hour, anything goes! Bring an instrument and sing a song, pick quietly in the background, or just sit and listen if you’d like.