Where to Learn to Play Music in SF


Ever dreamed of being in a band? Yeah you have. It's not too late to learn how to shred. Read on for ways to teach yourself some new tricks. Where do you take your music lessons?

Blue Bear School of Music, Fort Mason Center, Bldg. D, Marina Blvd. @ Buchanan

It doesn't matter if you're 4 months or 50 years old, if you've never touched a microphone or been tinkering with instruments for years; Blue Bear, which has been around since 1971, will give you space to jam as loud as you want and the teachers to nurture your talent. Take private lessons or group classes in rock, jazz and blues on everything from acoustic guitar to clarinet to voice. Or if you've got a crew needing a fire lit under their butts, sign up for a band workshop so you can tighten your repertoire in 10 weeks, then play an hour-long show at a venue like Cafe Du Nord. If you've got kids who are already full-blown music freaks, sign them up for Studio 101, which teaches composition, production and recording skills. Private lessons start at $32 for 30 mins.

Zambaleta, 2929 19th St., (415) 341-1333

This community music school in the Mission gets its name from an Egyptian word for a spontaneous, chaotic street party. The school itself invites everyone to that party, regardless of what language you speak or how much money you have in your bank account. These classes are for those want to dig deeper than learning standard rock or pop licks. Here, you can become an esoteric whiz at the banjo, Turkish and Hungarian folk singing (including some songs culled from Transylvanian villages!), Moroccan music, Gypsy jazz guitar, accordion and much more. They also teach guitar, electric bass, improv, and even "the Metaphysics of Songwriting". And don't be scared--all levels of ability are welcome. If you just want to move, take one of their dance classes. Private music lessons start at $25 for 30 mins.

San Francisco Community Music Center, 544 Capp St., (415) 647-6015 & 741 30th Ave., (415) 221-4515

Perhaps the oldest music school in the city, the SFCMC offers affordable, multilingual lessons in a mind-boggling array of instruments at both their Mission and Richmond District campuses, for kids and adults alike. Get wild on accordion, electric and acoustic bass and guitar, cello, Chinese instruments like the Yang Qin, drums, flute, French horn, harpsichord, oboe, piano, trombone, violin, voice, music theory and even more. If you don't have a spare French horn laying around, you can rent one, or any other instrument you fancy. They offer financial aid, such as a sliding scale discount based on your household's net income, as well as scholarships and work-study programs so that truly anyone can learn to play music. An 8-month registration starts at $40.

Sunset Music Company, 2311 Irving St., (415) 731-1725
This small, independent music store, started in 1948, carries tons of sheet music and offers practice rooms for those of you who have enough musical experience to get by on your own. For the rest of us, they offer lessons from passionate instructors in piano, acoustic and electric guitar, flute, clarinet and saxophone, and for any other instrument you need help with, they'll refer you to vetted instructors and even rent you the instrument you want to play. Piano lessons start at $25 for 30 minutes, and guitar lessons start at $136 for four 30-minute sessions.

Rolka Productions, 965 Mission St., (510) 435-1407

We all know San Francisco is a town of karaoke aficionados, so if you're into grabbing the mic, take a vocal lesson at Rolka Productions. Basically a one-man show, Jeff Rolka receives raves on Yelp for his patience and open-mindedness (he even helped a girl get better at her metal scream). He'll help you hone your technique and body awareness, as well as pick out your strengths and weaknesses so you don't ruin your vocal cords attempting to sing like Whitney Houston. If you've got a band whose singing needs some TLC, Jeff will take you on in a group class--he'll help you with original compositions and all. Call for class prices.

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