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East Bay equivalent to Blue Bear School of Music?

May 2011

When I lived in SF oh so long ago, I took both voice and acoustic guitar classes at Blue Bear School of Music. They were great! I would love to find its equivalent in the East Bay (preferably Contra Costa, though I won't hold my breath on that). Any recommendations?

I love vocal harmony in terms of singing. I do not enjoy solo singing - I only enjoy singing in groups both because I am too shy and because I really really love harmony. The type of music I enjoy singing is the type that Berkeley Broadway Singers performs. I am not really interested in anything religious, classical, choral. I know - picky picky!

I know am probably an advanced beginner when it comes to acoustic guitar. A group class would work well. Thanks! Singing makes me happy


I have three suggestions. The first is the Crowden School of Music, located in North Berkeley, which has a wide variety of classes and lessons for beginners to more advanced students, children to adults. The second is the Albany Chorus, which meets at the Albany High School one night a week, in which a friend of mine sings, and speaks very highly of. The third is the Berkeley Jazz School, in downtown Berkeley, which offers a wide variety of lessons and group classes (including jam sessions) for all levels of players. I hope this is useful. Jim
I suggest two places: Berkeley Jazz School in Berkeley or Oakland Public Conservatory. Berkeley Jazz School is more organized and offers more but is more costly. music lover
Freight and Salvage has once a month harmony singing workshops that are fun--mostly folk/Carter family type songs.

Ellen Robinson is a wonderful director of the Anything Goes chorus--based in Oakland--great Broadway, Americana, to Cole Porter repertoire--check out her web site ellenrobinson.com

if you like rock/instruments, Bandworks has adult bands... harmony singing aspirant


I'm a professional musician in Oakland who, as a student, studied long ago at the East Bay Center for the Performing Arts in Richmond and still have fond memories of the place. As an east bay musician and teacher (with no current connection to the school now), I have frequently recommended this school to students looking for very reasonably priced and/or sliding scale private lessons, as well as performing opportunities and a full arts program.

This school is a TRUE community-minded non-profit with a full music and arts program, reasonably-priced classes and private instrumental lessons priced comparably to (actually even less than) Blue Bear's ($35 per hour lesson, $27 for 45 minutes) and some scholarships available. The school has been around for 42 years and has an extremely distinguished faculty, some with doctorates in music, etc.

Unlike a couple of other schools in this area who in my opinion are in it only to make a profit and whose teachers have no particular credentials, the teachers at the East Bay Center are truly recognized musicians with credibility in the community. The place is a real community center that complies with the letter as well as the spirit of nonprofits by making music education affordable to everyone, even people who can't afford high rates. It's a true melting pot with a great vibe and great music going on all the time.

For students who can afford it, I also recommend the Jazzschool in Berkeley. They're the deluxe version of the East Bay Center. Top-notch musicians and teachers, great programs, but prices on the higher side.

I really can't recommend any other music schools in this area as being at all comparable to Blue Bear. Pro musician


Seeking classical music lovers to play together

Sept 2010

I'm an intermediate-level clarinet player looking for what used to be called a 'reading orchestra,' where one can get together with other musicians and play through the classical repertoire, not necessarily for performance (although that's also an option). The advice of anyone who could direct me to such a group would be very appreciated. I'm not interested in band music, just classical music. Alternatively, are the any members of the BPN who might be interested in getting together to play through some of the classical wind repertoire (Mozart, Brahms, Beethoven, etc.)? Jim


Jim, Crowden Music Center offers a popular 'Chamber Music for Adults' program that sets up adult classical music lovers in chamber ensembles with other players of comparable experience and ability. Groups meet at Crowden for 90-minute coachings with our expert faculty, and each semester culminates with an informal recital. Woodwind and string players as well as pianists may participate.

Groups are forming for the fall semester now. For more information or to apply, visit www.crowden.org or call 510.559.2941.

You might also check out Chamber Musicians of Northern California at www.cmnc.org. They have an email list serve (just like BPN) that helps adult chamber music players connect. Many CMNC players regularly enroll in Crowden's Chamber Music for Adults programs, too! Jen


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