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Group Classes & Ensembles

Explore musical styles, strengthen instrumental or vocal technique, and learn to play music in a community. Classes and ensembles offer a supportive environment to learn among peers under the instruction of our expert faculty.

Spring Quarter registration is now closed. Summer Quarter registration will begin on June 3. 

Explore a standard jazz repertoire in a dynamic, participatory setting. The advanced ensemble plays the music of Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Freddie Hubbard, and others; with emphasis on communicating as an ensemble, improvising, phrasing, groove, and dynamics to make the music come alive. There will be a culminating performance at Community Music Center at the end of each quarter. Ages: Adults, older teens (high school students) Instruments: Brass, woodwinds, strings and rhythm section (piano, guitar, bass and drums) Musical Styles: Jazz standards, be-bop, blues, Latin jazz Prerequisites: Proficiency on an instrument, mastery of scales, and prior experience in improvisation. Admission with instructor’s consent. New students will be asked to audition. Instructor: Charlie Gurke Students enrolled in private lessons at CMC receive a 50% discount on this class tuition. Please read CMC's registration policies before enrolling.Online signup for this class is unavailable. Submit a Prerequisite Form to get started!
Learn chords, simple strums, and tuning in a fun, relaxed group setting. You’ll be introduced to the basic elements of rhythm and harmony that will help you to play music right away! Guitar 1 is for the absolute beginner. Students leave Guitar 1 with the following:Basic open position chords: A, D, E, G, C, Am, Em, A7, B7, D7, E7, G7Basic strums in 4/4 and 3/4 timeI-IV-V tunes in A, D, G, and EKnowledge of how to read a “lead sheet”The desire to keep playing Ages: Adults and older teens (high school students) Instruments: Guitar Musical Styles: Diverse, based on participant interests Prerequisites: none Instructor: Vivian Sharp Size: 4-6 studentsStudents enrolled in private lessons at CMC receive a 50% discount on this class tuition. Please read CMC's registration policies before enrolling.
The Beginning Jazz Ensemble focuses on building standard repertoire, improvisation concepts, and developing ensemble skills. Ages: Adults, older teens (high school students) Instruments: Brass, woodwinds, strings and rhythm section (piano, guitar, bass and drums) Musical Styles: Jazz standards, be-bop, blues, Latin jazz Prerequisites: Proficiency on an instrument, knowledge of scales, and some experience in improvisation. Instructors: Erick Peralta, Charlie Gurke, David Steinberg Students enrolled in private lessons at CMC receive a 50% discount on this class tuition.Students enrolled in private lessons at CMC receive 50% discount. Please read CMC's registration policies before enrolling.Online signup for this class is unavailable. Submit a Prerequisite Form to get started!
Explore “Old Time” traditional American music, focusing on tunes from Appalachia: songs that crossed the pond from Ireland and Scotland that mixed with African American influences to become the American traditional music known as Old Time. We will also dive into how to play bluegrass interpretations, solos and backup. Singers, mandolin and bass are also welcome! We’ll be working on tunes from Appalachia, Irish and Scottish folk tunes, and African American traditional music. We will be focusing on Old Time tunes that are also part of the Bluegrass repertory, from standards to rarely played tunes, versions, and regional interpretations. Printed music will be provided. Ages: Adults and older teens (high school students) Instruments: fiddle, mandolin, banjo, guitar, ukulele, voice, bass (upright preferred) Musical Styles: Old Time and Bluegrass Prerequisites: an intermediate level of playing (especially on the fiddle). Basic reading of chord charts and fiddle notation Instructors: Erik Pearson and Tregar Otton. Instructors will alternate weeks and sometimes teach together.Students enrolled in private lessons at CMC receive a 50% discount. Please read CMC's registration policies before enrolling. Online signup for this class is unavailable. Submit a Prerequisite Form to get started!
This Electric Blues workshop will introduce students to the wide variety of blues grooves that one might encounter at a blues jam. We'll listen and learn from the recordings performed by the original artists that define a particular groove e.g., a Magic Sam boogie, an Albert King blues rhumba/mambo, a Jimmy Reed shuffle, a B.B. King jump blues, a Muddy Waters 'mojo' groove, a Lowell Fulson 'tramp' groove, and much more. Ensemble playing and individual improvisation will be encouraged with a focus on group interaction and the supporting role each individual instrument plays in establishing the groove. Ages: adult, older teens (high school) Instruments: guitar (electric), bass (electric), piano, drums, brass/woodwinds Prerequisites: Intermediate playing proficiency on your instrument, ability to play 7th and 9th chords (barred for guitars), have some major scale and blues scale knowledge, read a simple chord chart Instructor: Larry Dunn Students enrolled in private lessons at CMC receive 50% discount. Please read CMC's registration policies before enrolling.Online signup for this class is unavailable. Submit a Prerequisite Form to get started!
Learn traditional Afro Brazilian rhythms in a unique group setting. You will have a chance to study the techniques that makeup this musical language which has influenced other well known Brazilian musical styles such as samba and samba reggae. While some techniques are similar to that of the conga or djembe, the hand and stick techniques in this tradition will lead you into new sonic territories. This class will introduce you to many duplet and triplet based rhythms along with areas that are a mixture of the two and exist in between common rhythmic divisions. Students will gain insight into how this music fits into the song and dance context and how these elements combine to create a captivating atmosphere which is an essential cultural practice linking West Africa to the Americas. Ages: Adults, older teens (high school students) Musical Styles: All styles are welcome Prerequisites: Students must be prepared to learn and memorize several rhythmic patterns along with several hand and stick techniques Instructor: Robert Lopez Students enrolled in private lessons at CMC receive 50% discount. Please read CMC's registration policies before enrolling.
Whether you are an advanced beginner or an accomplished amateur musician, CMC’s chamber music program offers an opportunity to develop your musicianship and technique as well as the chance to play with others. Groups are composed of two to five students of compatible levels. Advanced beginners and intermediate students will focus on developing basic ensemble skills, intonation, tone quality, and rhythmic accuracy. Advanced students will study important aspects of ensemble playing, including interpretation and performance techniques. Each quarter, performers are invited to participate in a group recital. We welcome pianists and often have ensembles of Four-Hand Piano Duos. Intermediate and advanced piano students may connect through the chamber music program to play and receive coaching on classical duets. Four-hand piano is a fun way to apply what you’ve learned and pick up new skills that can introduce you to chamber music with strings and winds. This is a great opportunity to create lasting friendships as well as great performing groups! Pre-formed groups are highly encouraged! Ensembles who would like to perform will be encouraged to sign up for a regular CMC recital. Ages: All ages Instruments: All and voice Musical Styles: All Prerequisites: Students should have at least two years of experience playing their instrument. Placement auditions for new students take place at the beginning of each quarter in order to create groups who play at similar levels. Beginning students should be familiar with key signature with up to three sharps and flats, and basic rhythms including eighth notes. Class size: 2–5 students Locations: Mission District Branch OR Richmond District Branch.Students enrolled in private lessons at CMC receive a 50% discount. Please read Community Music Center's registration policies before enrolling.For more information, please contact: Katrina Wreede, Chamber Music Coordinator: kwreede@sfcmc.org Online signup for this class is unavailable. Please fill out the Chamber Music Inquiry Form to get started.
Learn how to capture and develop your musical ideas in a supportive environment. This hands-on class explores general composition methods through weekly short exercises that encourage larger compositions to be developed if desired. In each class we discuss specific techniques and review student work. Ideally, students will be able to record and/or notate their assignments prior to each class meeting. Ages: Adults, older teens (high school students) Prerequisites: Students should have a working knowledge of music notation, but notated assignments and compositions are not required. Similarly, no specific level of music theory knowledge is required and students will be encouraged to compose at whatever level they feel comfortable. Students are welcome to communicate with Jono prior to enrolling. Due to the participatory nature of the class, enrollment is limited to five students. Additional Information:
Jazz Today, a contemporary Jazz ensemble, invites students to explore the music of today’s hottest jazz artists from around the globe. We will draw from the repertoire of some of the most talented and creative musicians on the scene such as Robert Glasper, Esperanza Spalding, and Kamasi Washington who are honoring the tradition of this artform while also pushing the boundaries into new and unexpected territory. In addition to improvising within the framework of these compositions, we will also work extensively on creating unique and dynamic arrangements meant to solidify and expand each musician's role within the ensemble. Vocalists are also welcome and highly encouraged to join regardless of improvisation experience. Ages: Adults, older teens (high school students) Instruments: Brass, woodwinds, strings and rhythm section (piano, guitar, bass and drums) Musical Styles: Jazz, R&B, and Hip Hop Prerequisites: must be able to read standard music notation and chord charts and have a basic understanding of jazz improvisation concepts Instructor: David Steinberg Students enrolled in private lessons at CMC receive 50% discount. Please read CMC's registration policies before enrolling. Online signup for this class is unavailable. Submit a Prerequisite Form to get started!
Learn, perform, and hone your skills playing all styles of popular Cuban and Cuban-inspired dance music, including cha-cha-chá, danzón, guaracha, songo, timba, bolero, son-montuno, salsa, and other Afro-Cuban popular dance music. Charanga, or Tipica ensembles, ensembles incorporate violin and flute (usually instead of brass instruments, although trumpets and trombones are often used in modern charanga), along with bass, piano, vocals, and Afro-Cuban percussion. In this advanced class, students will learn and perform modern and traditional charanga music, learn about Cuban music history in a performance-focused environment, much like professional band rehearsals. Ages: Adults, older teens (high school students) Instruments: Voice, woodwinds, brass, violin, cello, bass, piano, and percussion (bongo, congas, guiro, claves, and timbales) Musical Styles: Cuban salsa, charanga, and other Afro-Cuban music Prerequisites: Proficiency on an instrument, reading skills, and interest in Latin music. Pianists should be able to play basic montunos and bassists should be able to play tumbao. Admission with instructor’s consent. Instructor: Tregar OttonStudents enrolled in private lessons at CMC receive 50% discount. Please read CMC's registration policies before enrolling.Online signup for this class is unavailable. Submit a Prerequisite Form to get started!
This class is designed for musicians that would like to learn about the basics of Cuban music and Salsa music. We will discuss rhythms that are key to Afro-Cuban music, including how clave and percussion parts relate to each instrument’s role, and improvisation within the style. We will also focus on learning the form of Cuban dance music, the historical context, and how different dances influence and fit into the musical form. Students will learn the key rhythms of Cuban danzón, cha-cha-chá, and son montuno as well as how to approach improvisation in Cuban music. Instrumentalists and vocalists are welcome. Ages: Adults, older teens (high school students) Instruments: Voice, woodwinds, brass, violin, cello, bass, piano, and percussion (bongo, congas, guiro, claves, and timbales) Musical Styles: Cha-cha-chá, danzón, guaracha, bolero, son, songo, timba, salsa, and other Afro-Cuban music Prerequisites: Proficiency on an instrument, reading skills, and interest in Latin music. Admission with instructor’s consent. Instructor: Tregar OttonStudents enrolled in private lessons at CMC receive 50% discount. Please read CMC's registration policies before enrolling.Online signup for this class is unavailable. Submit a Prerequisite Form to get started!
This class will serve as an introduction to core elements of jazz music. We’ll learn about the essential roles of each member in a jazz ensemble, such as walking bass lines, drum grooves, the role of comping, and interpretation of a melody. We’ll examine integral building blocks of jazz harmony, how to approach learning your first tunes, understanding a lead sheet, as well as how to go about preparing for improvisation.The goal of this class is to provide you with skills that will enhance your understanding of the language, assist in making music with others, and enable you to be free to improvise. Ages: Adults, older teens (high school students) Instruments: All instruments Prerequisites: Proficiency on an instrument, knowledge of major scales Instructor: Erick PeraltaStudents enrolled in private lessons at CMC receive a 50% discount. Please read CMC's registration policies before enrolling. Online signup for this class is unavailable. Submit a Prerequisite Form to get started!
This is a workshop-style class in which students learn classic Soul/R&B songs as both soloists and background singers. Repertoire will include music from the 1959–1990s. Students will learn proper vocal technique, stage presence, performance, and interpretation. Clif will also help students find the appropriate keys for their songs. Students are welcome to bring their favorite Soul/R&B songs to sing using accompaniment recordings. Ages: Adults, older teens (high school students) Musical Styles: Classic Soul and R&B Prerequisites: The ability to read music or play an instrument is not necessary (Your voice is an instrument!), but students should have the ability to sing a melody and hear harmony. Instructor: Clif Payne COURSE OBJECTIVES: Singing the classic soul and R&B songs spanning from 1957-1990. To recognize the universality, “singability” and freedom of spirit in singing these songs. To sing these songs in your key. To overcome any fear or vocal challenge in singing. To interpret the songs using the students’ own vocal ability and personality. To perform these songs in a recital at the end of the semester.GREAT SONGS OF SOUL AND R&B (examples): 1959 Motown Sound – Pop-flavored Soul (Supremes, Martha & The Vandellas, Temptations, Four Tops, DeBarge)1959 Stax – Southern Soul Music/Blues (Staple Singers, Carla Thomas, Otis Redding, Wilson Pickett)Late 1960s-1970s – Philadelphia “Philly” Soul – Lavish orchestral arrangements (Three Degrees, Jones Girls, Pointer Sisters, Donna Summer, O’Jays, The Spinners)1980s The Minneapolis Sound w/Prince & His Related BandsMichael Jackson, Lionel Richie1990s LAface - Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds and othersStudents enrolled in private lessons at CMC receive a 50% discount. Please read CMC's registration policies before enrolling.
Kids learn to play guitar in a fun and supportive group setting with some of their favorite songs. This hands-on class helps kids play music right away. Students learn rhythm, melody, creating a good tone, and listening so they can play music with others. Kids explore folk, rock, pop, and world music together in a social environment, building confidence along with music basics. It is highly encouraged to continue with two more quarters of sequential instruction for continuing students in Winter and Spring Quarters. Musical Styles: Folk, rock, pop and world music Class Size: Maximum 5 students Instructor: Vivian Sharp Students enrolled in private lessons at CMC receive a 50% discount. Please read Community Music Center's registration policies before enrolling.
You Bring a Song, I Bring a Song This ensemble is for anyone who plays guitar-related instruments including guitar, uke, bass, mandolin, etc. Everyone in class will bring a song to present that we can play together as a group. In the class we will explore some fundamentals of playing music with others including: groove, listening skills, choosing an approach on your instrument to create unique parts, being both an effective leader and a reliable accompanist. Other topics may include: soloing, basic transposition and practical music theory, harmony singing, and sculpting an arrangement. This class will have musical opportunities for people at different skill levels. Bring some songs, a creative mind and a willingness to try. Ages: Adults, older teens (high school students) Instruments: guitar, ukulele, bass, mandolin Musical Styles: diverse, based on participant interests Prerequisites: basic knowledge of chords and notes Instructors: Erik PearsonStudents enrolled in private lessons at CMC receive 50% discount. Please read CMC's registration policies before enrolling.
This class provides a fun space to learn and improve your skills by working on various songs with different strums and a few "licks," while singing and playing at the same time! Students are welcome to repeat the class as desired. There are hundreds of tunes to learn at every skill level. This class is for adult students who have learned just a few chords or used to play years ago. Ages: Adults and older teens (high school students) Instruments: Guitar Musical Styles: Diverse, based on participant interests Prerequisites: Basic knowledge of chords Instructor: Javier Madrigal Size: 4-6 students Students enrolled in private lessons at CMC receive 50% discount. Please read CMC's registration policies before enrolling.
Explore a standard jazz repertoire in a dynamic, participatory setting. The intermediate ensemble plays the music of Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Freddie Hubbard, and others; with emphasis on communicating as an ensemble, improvising, phrasing, groove, and dynamics to make the music come alive. There will be a culminating performance at Community Music Center at the end of each quarter. Ages: Adults, older teens (high school students) Instruments: Brass, woodwinds, strings and rhythm section (piano, guitar, bass and drums) Musical Styles: Jazz standards, be-bop, blues, Latin jazz Prerequisites: Proficiency on an instrument, mastery of scales, and prior experience in improvisation. Admission with instructor’s consent. New students will be asked to audition. Instructor: Charlie GurkeStudents enrolled in private lessons at CMC receive 50% discount. Please read CMC's registration policies before enrolling.Online signup for this class is unavailable. Submit a Prerequisite Form to get started!
These fun group classes will jumpstart your musical journey, introducing young beginners to the joys of music-making, musical concepts and fundamentals of piano playing, including technique and musicianship skills. Through social, play-centered group lessons both parents and students will learn to develop their musical abilities, build at-home practice routines, and prepare for their next phase of study, from private lessons to playing with others. Classes are offered in English, and Bilingually (English/Spanish). Se ofrecen clases de piano para principiantes en español. These classes are a perfect introduction to piano and basic musical concepts, including note reading, rhythm, and ear training. Using a mix of fun and interactive exercises, games, and age-appropriate repertoire, students will learn basic keyboard orientation and will be able to play simple melodies. Our group piano classes are excellent preparation for private piano study! The final class of the quarter will be open to family and friends to celebrate students’ accomplishments.It is highly encouraged to continue with two more quarters of sequential instruction for continuing students in the Winter and Spring Quarters. Requirements: A piano method book will be a required purchase. All classes use Piano Adventures Primer Level Lesson Book and Piano Adventures Primer Level Theory Book. Students should bring books to their first class.Please Note: Some sections of Introduction to piano require a parent or caregiver to accompany each student. Please check the class details to see if this is a requirement for your class. Students enrolled in private lessons at CMC receive a 50% discount. Please read Community Music Center's registration policies before enrolling. Online registration is not available for all CMC Sparks classes. The classes that are available are labeled "Register Now."
Designed for the adult beginner, this hands-on class will introduce you to the joy of playing the piano, demystifying musical language and notation into easy-to-understand concepts you can bring to the keyboard right away! Students will focus on building a strong foundation in piano, all in a fun and supportive classroom atmosphere with other beginning students. Concepts addressed in this class will include:Developing physical ease and facility at the piano through basic keyboard technique Reading and performing musical notation, understanding rhythm and pitch Developing the beginning skills needed to play and compose music of all styles, including jazz, classical, and pop A piano method book will be used in this class. It is highly recommended to purchase this book to bring to the first class. Supplementary materials will also be used. We recommend that students have a weighted-action keyboard or piano to practice on at home within the first week of study. For recommendations on obtaining an instrument in your area, please feel free to contact our team! CMC students also receive 10 free hours of studio time at CMC each quarter. Students enrolled in private lessons at CMC receive a 50% discount. Please read CMC's registration policies before enrolling.
Learn how to execute arrangements and improvise in a small jazz ensemble setting. Students will share improvisation concepts, improve solos, explore group dynamics, and sound quality. Players will be strongly encouraged to write original tunes, and there will be various performance opportunities throughout the year. Ages: Adults, older teens (high school students) Instruments: Woodwinds, brass, and rhythm section (piano, guitar, bass and drums) Musical Styles: Jazz standards, blues, Latin jazz, originals Prerequisites: For intermediate to advanced students Instructor: Max Miller-Loran Students enrolled in private lessons at CMC receive a 50% discount on this class tuition.Online signup for this class is unavailable. Schedule a registration phone appointment at the Richmond District Branch to join! Additional Information: