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Jon's School of Music (Berkeley, CA)

Berkeley Parents Network > Reviews > Classes & Lessons > Music Classes > Jon's School of Music


For more reviews, see Music for Babies & Toddlers, Music for Preschoolers, and Music Classes for Kids 5-11
Aug 2012

Re: Jon's vs. Music Together vs. Jingle Jamboree
My son has been taking lessons with Jon's School Of Music for nearly three years now - first in his group lesson and now privately. Jon has been a wonderful teacher! His group class was a great follow-up to music together, which my son took from 9 mos until he was nearly three. Jon's group lessons exposed him to all different types of instruments in a really fun way, which was a great alternative to just guessing what he might like and signing him up for lessons for something he might not be passionate about. His CD's are also filled with songs that are all geared toward teaching children the fundamentals of music and learning to play a variety of instruments. Once it was clear that my son gravitated toward the drums, we started him with private lessons with Jon. The best part about that, is that while he spends much of the time practicing the instrument he's concentrating on, Jon still has other instruments at the ready and is always happy to let my son explore. For example, after hearing some marimba music at the farmers market, my son is completely enthralled with the marimba! So, rather than having to find him a new teacher, Jon spent time with him on the marimba and applied much of the fundamentals that my son has already learned to that instrument. While learning to read music and enduring the repetition of practice can be tough for a five year old, Jon's flexible and fun style has been incredibly engaging for my son - he always seems to have something up his sleeve to make learning fun. Karen


We have done MT and Jon's school of music, but not Jingle Jamboree. MT was much more mellow and had fewer instruments to experiment with. Our teacher was Cheri Hudnut and she has great energy and I think she's a fun teacher. We switched to Jon and have been mostly happy with his classes. He is very high energy and fast moving- has a lot of instruments for the kids to play with- and I think delivers superior music ''education'' than MT. Our son (age 2!) has learned so much from Jon. He can pick out where a D is on a piano. He understands musical concepts and can, unassisted, bang out a somewhat complicated beat with his hands and do it accelerando and decelerando and understands both concepts. He understands quarter and eighth notes. I credit all of this to Jon- and he would not have learned any of that in MT. For a child who is more mellow, I'd recommend MT. For a child who really LOVES music and has a lot of energy and parents who don't get annoyed easily , I'd recommend Jon. music mom
My 7 and 2 yo sons have been through Music Together and Jon's School of Music classes, and my younger one still attend Jon's class every week. Both started as infants in Music Together, and moved on to Jon after they turned two. Music Together offers exposure to a wide variety of musical genres, as well as interactive participation with song, dance and musical instruments (hand drums, shakers, sticks, tambourines, bells, etc.). Jon also offers interactive participation, but with more emphasis placed on hands-on exposure to different instruments (including a keyboard, hand drums, violin, trumpet, ukulele, xylophone, an auto harp, and the ever-popular kid-sized drum set). My boys enjoyed both classes and each has its strength, but we ultimately ended up with Jon because jamming with his musical instruments is just so much fun! Take a trial class for each that you are considering, and you'll get a better idea of what suits your kids. Have fun singing and dancing! Jennifer
I have tried both Music Together and Jon's School of Music with my now 22 month old son. We started Music Together when he was about 8 months old and continued going for a few sessions. In my opinion, Music Together is great for the 8 to 18-month old crowd. The children are exposed to music and noise makers (egg shakers, music rattles, etc.), which is fun for them while they are younger. My shy son liked to watch the children in the class, but was not too interested in actually participating in class once he turned about 18 months old. I could tell he was bored in class, so I started my search for another music class and found JSOM. He absolutely LOVES the classes and adores Jon. Jon sings, plays the drums, and keyboard (all at the same time) while parents join in with real drums during the first few minutes of class during the hello songs. The kids and parents get to play real instruments the entire time and everyone is fully engaged. My son especially loves playing the electric guitar, harp and drum set. My shy boy has completely opened up and even runs to hug Jon at the end of every class. At home, he loves to practice singing the songs Jon taught him the previous week. I highly recommend Jon's classes. Check out a trial class--I'm sure you're family will have a blast! Dena
I tried all 3 of these music programs when my daughter was a toddler and strongly preferred Jon's School of Music, which I then attended with her and my son for almost 4 years. Simply put, Jon's was so much more fun for my kids (and for me) than the other 2 programs, and was clearly superior in terms of teaching actual musical skills. I think a child could enjoy any of the programs so if you are looking for an activity to get you out of the house, any of the three will do. But Jon uses a big variety of real kid-sized instruments, teaches notes on the keyboard, and of course teaches rhythm and timing. Most kid music programs are just singing and maybe shaking or banging some instruments. Definitely give Jon a try! anon
Aug 2012

Re: Seeking music class for 21 mos old
Our 25 month old loves Jon's School of Music in North Berkeley! He also had a great sense of rhythm and love for music at a young age and we started going to Jon's when he was 19 months old, based on BPN recs. He talks about it all the time now and looks forward to it every weekend. It's a fun and goofy class and it's kind of amazing that Jon holds all those little kiddos attentions for a full hour. There are real instruments that everyone gets to play and they sing songs designed to teach musical concepts. Our son recently moved out of the 1-2.5 year old group into the older class where the kids learn to lead one another (as opposed to following Jon's lead in the younger group) and are exposed to more music theory. We have seen some parents put off by Jon's expectations (one adult, has to participate, don't let your kid abuse the instruments etc.) but those expectations are there to make the class successful and it works, so don't take it personally if he asks you to do or not to do something. He offers a free trial class so please check it out. Just be prepared to role with it and have fun. musical mama


Feb 2011

Re: Music/Movement/Art/Outdoor Classes for Toddler?
There are so many fun things to do with a toddler. My son's absolute favorite class is his music class at Jon's School of Music. He's been going since he was 17 months old, he's now 22 months(Jon can certainly have younger kids) and he has loved it since the beginning. He looks forward to it every week. Jon holds classes in San Francisco and in Berkeley (which wouldn't be a stretch from San Leandro). I love the class myself. It's so fun to see how excited all the little one's get and the songs are really fun.


My kids love John's School of Music. My oldest went from the time he was 2 until he turned 5. The middle one started when he was about 14 months and is still in it. My youngest is only 5 months, and John is always great about letting her come along. The classes involve music, dancing, playing instruments, running around, story time, and stamps at the end of class. John has classes for all ages up to about 6 or 7. Each class incorporates elements of the younger kids class, and adds elements to keep the kids entertained, and learning about music. www.jsom.com (415)971-5435 Paul
Sept 2009

Re: Toddler Drumming Classes?
You must check out Jon's School of Music. It is the perfect music class for a toddler who wants to play real instruments, especially drums. Jon is a fantastic drummer, and there lots of opportunities in class to play all kinds of drums and multiple drum sets. My children were students of Jon's for years, and they had so, so much fun with him and learned so much about the basics of music, including drum and keyboard skills. You can find him on the web at www.jsom.com. He teaches in Berkeley on Mondays and Thursdays. Liz O.


Our now 3 year old has been going to ''Jon's School of Music'' for a little over a year, once a week. He loves drumming. The kids are introduced and use real instruments. I know that Jon also teaches private lessons but not until kids are old enough (maybe 4 or 5). This is not only for drumming, many other instruments as well. But, he works with rhythm and the kids and parents have so much fun. Our son comes home dancing and drumming and talking about different instruments. This is Jon's website: http://www.jsom.com/ Here is his e-mail: macks777@jsom.com e cohen
I would highly recommend Jon's Music Class (jsom.com) if you're looking for a toddler class with lots of instruments. My son who is now four has done Jon's classes for about two years and really loved it. We tried other music classes but mainly found the music kind of insipid and there was definitely a lack of instruments besides tambourines and shakers. Jon has a trombone, cello, trumpet, keyboard, full drum set and lots of other instruments. He's quirky and kind of a kid himself which I think is why my kid has loved the class so much. Leslie
Try Jon's School of Music (www.jsom.com) in Berkeley. Jon offers really creative music classes that draw kids in to the fun and give them hands-on experience with drums, keyboard, guitar, and more every week. My 2 year old loves it. Elizabeth
Our boys (ages 3 1/2 and 22 months) really enjoy the classes in Berkeley at Jon's School of Music and we've been doing the classes for over a year now. The kids get exposed to a variety of instruments as well as musical theory. Jon offers a class trial for new families so check it out! www.jsom.com Carla
I highly recommend Jon's School of Music to anyone who wants to give their child a real musical opportunity. Jon is funny, inventive and his method is very smart. There is a lot of drumming. Most special is when the class forms a band. They play real instruments and the drummer, who calls the tune, is on an authentic trap set. My granddaughter, who is almost four, loves it. You can see more about Jon's School of Music on his site: http://www.jsom.com/ Ahni
Jon's School of Music. Just finished a hilarious evening with my 4 yo daughter and 3 yo son who have been attending Jon's music classes. They were dancing around singing to his CD, playing the drums and guitar. Amazes me what bits of music theory they pick up from such a playful setting. Jon teaches from a house in Berkeley on Mondays and Thursdays. In his silly class, children get to play different instruments in the group setting in a relaxed, fun manner...with teaching going on (somewhat subconsciously) constantly. Check it out at jsom.com. By the way, he has 2 drum sets that the kids just LOVE to play! Jennifer
Jon's School of Music in Berkeley is really spectacular and I highly recommend it. Rather than learning one instrument, children play lots of instruments and are exposed to the principles of music as well as group dynamics. Through Jon's playful approach, children learn rhythm, harmony, melody, dynamics, tempo, and more. In addition they have the opportunity to play real instruments and experience what it's like to play a cello, trombone, guitar, drums, keyboard, violin, shakers, etc. Children sing, dance and laugh throughout the class as Jon challenges them to grow musically. Jen
March 2009

Re: Music lessons for an almost 4 year old
Do check out Jon's School of Music if you haven't already. It could be just what you are looking for. He offers a free trial class, too. Our son started when he was 3 1/2 and has learned tons about music, beginning theory, basic piano instruction, and has had a blast the whole time. They get to try out all kinds of different instruments, too. A JSOM fan


July 2008

Re: Music classes for young toddler
Jon's School of Music is fabulous. He teaches kids age 1 to 6, and is especially good with toddlers. He is very lively/silly and uses very developmentally appropriate and creative methods for teaching the kids the basics of music, including ''playing'' (i.e., playing with) a large variety of instruments. My kids LOVE him, and I am amazed at what they have learned. Now, he is not as cheap as you may like ($18 per class), but classes last almost an hour, so it seems worth it to me. Jon teaches in Berkeley on Mondays and Thursdays. You can get more information at www.jsom.com. Liz O.


April 2008

Re: More music, less circle, for 4-y-o boy
I think Jon's School of Music may be just what you are looking for (although the location, North Berkeley, is not ideal for you). Jon teaches classes for kids up to age 6, and his emphasis is on basic ensemble skills using lots and lots of cool instruments. Among other things, my children have ''played'' cello, harp, trumpet, electric guitar, and have become really comfortable singing into a microphone. Jon uses very creative, play-based teaching strategies. They have SO much fun in his class and I am amazed at what they have learned musically. My just-four-year-old is playing real songs (e.g., Twinkle, Twinkle) on the piano, harmonizes when he sings, and can get great sound from a trombone. You can get more info at www.jsom.com. Liz O.


I highly recommend Jon's School of Music. My daughter who is almost four really enjoys it. Being a musician myself, I'm aware of the challenges of presenting musical concepts at this young age without it going over their heads. I think Jon does a great job of introducing musical language and ideas to the kids in a fun and entertaining way. He's got a lot of energy and can be quite goofy in a positive way. One other important point, they get a chance to play real instruments! Check out www.jsom.com Good luck! Gianna
I would like to give a strong recomendation to Jon's School of Music. (jsom.com)

I have a young son ( 3 years old) who has done both East Bay Music Together and Jon's School of music. The Music Together was great and fun but we outgrew it. It teaches that one 'plays' music but there is not much true musical knowledge being imparted.

Jon teaches basic music reading and note recognition. He uses different teaching methods to reach different children's learning methods. For example, he writes songs to teach where specific notes are on the piano keyboard. 'D the dog' and so on. We rotate through playing real instruments. We also dance and of course have fun.

I am a musician and enjoy his classes. I think Jon is an excellent teacher.

Please make sure you give his classes a chance. He teaches in both North Berkeley and San Francisco. Edie


Our almost 5 year old boy has been going to Jon's School of Music jsom.com in the Berkeley Hills for almost 9 months and LOVES it. He has learned a ton - theory, rhythm, and lots of really good skills for future musicians (ej watching and responding to the conductor and/or to the other musicians in your band, music symbols, notes on a keyboard). It is high energy and engaging. The kids get to use real instruments (cello, drum set, brass etc). In Berkeley on M and Th. In SF other days. Our 2 year old goes to the younger kids class and also loves ''Teacher Jon-Jon.'' Heather
Nov 2007

Re: Low-key music class for 4-year-old
I HIGHLY recommend Jon's School of Music, especially given that your daughter has enjoyed music classes in the past. My now almost-4-year-old has been going since he was 17 months (and my daughter went from age 4 to 6). Jon is very creative and fun and does an amazing job of teaching musical concepts and skills to toddlers, and most kids just love him. And unlike Music Together (which we tried too), kids ''play'' tons of instruments (e.g., trombone, cello, drums, keyboard, harp, accordian). Parents attend classes too, but in terms of physically participating you could certainly do as much or as little as you are able. He teaches in Berkeley on Mondays and Thursdays. You can get more info at: www.jsom.com. (415) 971-5435. Liz O.


Sept 2005

I just signed my 3-year old son up for classes with Jon's School of Music, and he LOVES it. It's fantastic, and still has some room (Mondays at 3:30 at the Luteran Church on Grizzly Peak;). Actually, this particular class needs more enrollment or is in risk of being cancelled.

It's a class for 2.5-4 year olds, and they get to play all kinds of instruments: drums/full drum kit, guitars, keyboards, cello, trombone, you name it. Jon has made up all kinds of silly, fun songs, stories, and dances that actually teach these little ones about music while they have a blast and all get hands on experience with the instruments.

It's a perfect after-school activity.

Check out his web site (it doesn't really do his program justice...) or call him directly: 415-971-5435.

Feel free to call me if you want any more info: patty 526-9036 -Having a ball at Jon's School of Music


Aug 2005

Re: Music class for 4 year old

A couple months ago I too was looking for music classes for my 3 year old boys. We had gone to music together for a couple years and felt ready to move on to something new. I really wanted them to be around and be able to experience a variety of instruments. After a search on BPN I found Jon's School of Music, visited his website, and went to check out a class. What a blast! Jon is full of energy and has a very unique way of exposing the kids to the language of music as well as instruments. My boys have already played keyboards, guitars, trumpets, cello, stand up base, accordian, full drum set and more! Please go to his website, http:/ www.jsom.com/, and take a look. New classes are starting soon. His classes in the east bay are taught at a Luthern church up on Grizzly Peak. Be sure to look at the videos to get the flavor of the class. Kyle


Hi there - The class you're looking for is Jon's School of Music. He is excellent and the classes involve real instruments and loads of fun. Check out his website for more information: www.jsom.com Cheers. EAnnis
My son took a music class this summer at ''Jon's School of Music'', which is up at Grizzly and Spruce and he got to play instruments, dance around, learn music theory, etc. It was a lot of fun! His favorite was playing the drum set but he also really enjoyed playing trumpet and string bass, among other things, and was learning more than he realized about reading music etc as well. There is a web site at http://www.jsom.com . I think this is the class you heard about, definitely check it out! Joanne
jon's school of music in berkeley (and sf) are perfect classes once the kindermusik-type classes become too young. awhile back, i wrote an unsolicitated review about jon's music classes as a great place for young children to get hands-on experience playing real instruments, learning about musical notes and theory, singing songs, and having a great time with ''silly jon man.'' my daughter and her friends attended for almost a year, and we ALL-- parents and babes, included--had a great time. also, he schedules early evening weekday classes, as well as weekend ones, too. check it out: www.jsom.com pamela
I would highly recommend Jon's School of Music (www.jsom.com). He is very entertaining but is also serious about teaching music basics (notes, rhythm). The kids get to play a variety of real instruments, including kid-sized guitars, cellos, xylophones, keyboards, drums. He teaches in Berkeley on Monday and Thursday and I do believe he has a 5:30 class one day. Liz O.
May 2005

Any input on Jon Merker and Jon's School of Music for a 2 1/2 yr old who's really into music?


My 4 year old son and his dad have been going to Jon's evening class for a year now. It's not the closest music class, but Jon's approach is substantially different. The kids use real instruments -- not your shakers and tamborines. My son's favorite is the kid-size drum set. He's come home talking about playing a base (really a kid-size chello (sp?)).

Jon puts a lot of energy into engaging the kids, which really helps keep my son focused. I find it a little over the top, prefering a move reserved approach, but I'm not a toddler. The more reserved kids tend to sit with their parent initially and play the individual instruments, but soon want to help with the magic scales and give Jon a good-bye thumb-to-thumb.

It's interesting to see him integrate musical theory into the class and introduce notes. I don't know how much the kids get but they like it.

I would suggest going to a class to get a feel for it. As with most music classes, you can go to one to check it out for free. For the summer, he's letting us pay only for the classes we go to, which is nice.

The other thing Jon does, which I appreciate, is a friendly discipline. Although the parents are there, Jon telling my son to sit down helps a lot. It's very friendly but firm and age appropriate.

If you have other questions, you're welcome to email me. ajanks


my now 3 1/2 year old daughter and i attended jon's music class for 7 months, and we both really enjoyed it. we only recently stopped because of a schedule conflict, but she still channels ''silly jon man'' and asks to listen to his cd frequently. it's a great class where children are introduced to authentic instruments and learn how to be part of a music band. for us, it was the only class where my slow-to-warm daughter was engaged from the very beginning; i attribute it to jon's very silly atmosphere. claire's mom
Jon's School of Music is an imaginative and educational trip through the world of sound. Jon tells stories of the 'wondrous land of keyboard' where all the notes have interacting animal friends: C-roadrunner, D the dog, etc, and the musical flubs taste like chocolate. The kids each play their own instrument--drums, guitar, violin, cello, harmonium, bazouki, bells, you name it, he's got it. My son loves leading the band, helping D the dog put out fires, and singing the magic numbers (major or minor scales) to help free up a mysteriously stuck stack of drums. I love that we're getting a terrific education in musical terms and theory, besides getting to play all those great instruments. My son is 4, but we have a 2yr old in our class, and he's right in there playing and dancing with the older kids. Jon drives the class with energy and extreme silliness, and the kids love it! Karen
My 3 yr old son has been attending Jon's classes for two seasons now and we are VERY happy with the classes. He gets great exposure to different kinds of instruments and is actually learning music in a really fun way. We learned of this class from an unsolicited positive review on this newsletter and are so glad we followed through on the recommendation. As with the parent who wrote the review, we are just not the twirling in the air, scarf throwing type of people and the Music Together / Kindermusik classes were just not going to work for us (we tried). Jon is exceptional and we go out of our way to make it to his classes. Try a free class and see for yourself. Edna
Jan 2005

This is an unsolicited recommendation of a great children's music class my 3-year old daughter and her three friends have been attending. It's called ''Jon's School of Music.'' Classes are offered for ages 1 - 6, and children are grouped with similarly-aged peers. Unlike other music classes we've participated in (and we've tried them all!), Jon's classes emphasize the actual playing of authentic instruments, including keyboard, guitar, drums, brass instruments, xylophone, and string instruments. No egg shakers or rhythm sticks here! Our kids are learning pitch, rhythm theory, musical notes, respect for instruments, performing as an ensemble (as well as duets and solos), in ways that are completely age-appropriate and very fun. (And actually, the grown-ups have learned quite a bit, too!) Most importantly, Jon has a natural affinity with little people and really understands how to connect with them developmentally, making each class a very silly, yet musical experience. Also, the kids love having a former rock band musician as their teacher.

Our winter session has just begun, but I know that he still has openings. Preview classes are free, so come join us. His East Bay classes are Mondays and Thursdays. For more information, check out his website and/or give him a call. Jocelyn


Re: Music class for 4.5 year old (Nov 2004)
I would like to recommend Jon's Superhero Music Class for your son. Jon Merker is an energetic teacher with an irresistible program that incorporates play and learning in a perfect mix for my 4yo son. Alex has ''played'' a variety of instruments including drums, keyboard, trumpet, violin, xylophone, electric and acoustic guitar, bells, and I can't wait to see what comes next. The students play at following rhythm, are learning tempo, musical terms, and use pitch to ''magically'' move stuck objects. Jon also has a veritable zoo of imaginary animal friends to show us where the notes ''live'' on the keyboard. He does an amazing job of keeping our class of 2 two-ish and 3 four-ish kids on track and learning.

Jon has classes in Berkeley and SF, and can be contacted at (415) 971-5435 or through jsom.com (Jon's School of Music.) Tell him D the Dog sent you! Superhero Mom


Sept. 2004

I want to heartily recommend Jon's School of Music (formerly Music Time) for music classes for young children ages 1 - 5. My 7 year old son took Jon's classes from 18 months thru age 5 and is now in private piano lessons with Jon. My 14 month old twins just started music classes with Jon and they already love it. Jon is great with little kids because he loves them and he teaches music in a fun and educational way. All my kids are huge fans of his. Call him at (415) 971-5435. classes in Berkeley. Susan G


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