You’re planning to move to the Bay Area - you’ve hired your moving truck, and as you finalize details with your real estate agent, you pass a pianist playing in the Botanical Gardens. You decide it’s time to learn how to play the piano.
Where should you go to learn to play the piano? How should you approach it? What are the factors to consider before you sign up with a piano teacher or a music school?
Why should you learn to play the piano in San Francisco?
You should learn, because as a dedicated music lover, you shiver a bit inside whenever you hear the lilting music of the piano.
You should learn because for you, music is something to listen to and practice in the best possible way. You have a true passion for music and think that music stands a step above the other arts. And in your opinion, the piano is the most beautiful and melodious of all the musical instruments.
Or maybe you should learn just because piano is a great instrument, and it would be a cool new skill to learn.
Becoming a musician in San Francisco is a great idea; learning to play the piano will bring you many benefits:
- Learning music theory, how to read music, and keep both hands coordinated when one plays the melody while the other plays the harmony, will put your brain to work.
- Playing a musical instrument will help you use your brain in new ways and grow your cognitive abilities.
- Playing the piano, just like playing the guitar, bass, violin, or drums, reduces your chances of having neurological degenerative diseases like Alzheimers or Parkinson's
- Learning to play the piano in San Francisco will give you entry to a whole new society and social network of musicians. You’ll be able to take part in musical jam sessions with a keyboard anywhere in the Bay Area.
- Becoming a pianist is also a great introduction to other musical instruments - mastering the piano will give you a great understanding of music theory, and a base from which to learn to play other instruments.
If you’ve never put your hands on the piano keys before, it’s probably a good idea to sign up for some piano lessons where you can get the answers for all the questions now assailing you. All good things for people in San Francisco and Palo Alto, but also for people learning to play the piano in Boston!
Questions to ask yourself before you sign up for piano classes in San Francisco
- How do you find a good piano teacher for beginners piano classes?
- What introductory piano method is best for you?
- What style of music do you want to study - pop, jazz, rock, or classical?
- What piano school or teacher is best suited to your level of playing?
- How are you planning to use your musical skills in the future? Are you just looking to pick up a new hobby, or an outlet to channel all your emotions into music? Are you hoping to join a local orchestra or chamber group?
- Do you want to become a virtuoso or a professional pianist?
- Do you have the right temperament to pursue your new musical interests beyond learning a few chords? Are you hoping to make learning the piano into a future career?
There are many questions to ask yourself as you begin to learn to play the piano in San Francisco, but just as many if you want to learn to find piano classes in LA!
Answering all of these questions will help you to find the right place for you to learn to play the piano. For example, if you want to become a professional pianist, you might be best looking at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music.
Of course, if you just want to learn to play a few chords and begin to read music, then a few private classes and some online courses will probably be sufficient for your piano ambitions.
Before you begin searching out your new piano teacher, it’s worth looking at a map of the Bay area:
Richmond, Marina, Twin Peaks, and Mission are just some of the San Francisco neighborhoods where it’s easy to find places to learn to play the piano.
For children who want to learn to play the piano, music lessons also bring numerous benefits.
Learning piano will also improve their concentration, motor skills, and memory, and make it easier for them to learn a foreign language.
It’s a culturally rich activity which will have lasting positive affects on your child’s future social life.
The Suzuki Method advocates beginning piano classes very early, and this will create benefits for your child academically, especially if they start at about the same time as their kindergarten.
Whatever your situation is at home - student or employee, single or married, parent, or empty nester - there’s no right age to learn to play the piano, and it’s never too early to catch the music bug! Indulging in a passion for music will help you get in touch with your creativity.
Here are Superprof’s recommendations for the best places to learn to play the piano and top music schools in the Bay Area. We also have similar articles to help you out if you’re looking to learn to play the piano in New York City or Seattle.
San Francisco Music Conservatory - the top music school in the Bay Area
Now in its 100th year, the San Francisco Music Conservatory began as a piano school, appropriately enough, in 1917.
Since then, the school has experienced several moves and expansions before settling into its most recent location, the Civic Center campus, in 2006.
Like many other conservatories around the country, the San Francisco Conservatory of Music offers the regular bachelors of music degrees and professional certificates, as well as pre-collegiate courses.
The keyboard department at the conservatory aims to help you develop your performance skills and playing styles for a professional career, and allows you to choose from four concentrations: collaborative piano, harpsichord, organ, and piano.
Auditions are required for all concentrations, but only piano requires a pre-screening before the live audition. The entire school is made up of just 401 students.
The conservatory also has a partnership with the Shanghai Conservatory of Music, and students have the opportunity to take part in a joint chamber music festival each year.
If you aren’t quite ready for conservatory life, but still want the rigor of learning from some of the top teachers, it’s also worth looking into the conservatory’s Adult Extension program which offers piano classes during the school year as well as summer intensives. Classes generally focus on classical music, and students will learn rhythm, scales, sight reading, and transposition. Repertory and ensemble classes are also available.
For those budding musicians who didn’t make it into the conservatory, or who are looking for slightly less serious piano instruction, music centers and piano schools are also good places to learn how to play.
San Francisco Music Schools and places to learn to play the piano
Even in a music school, where the theory and technique is often less formal than at a conservatory, you’ll still need to work hard to master each piece of music. It can all seem like a struggle when you’re first learning to play the piano.
You’ll need to practice the same pieces of music over and over again until you can master them. But that’s what piano classes at a music school are for!
There are many different music schools to choose from in San Francisco.
Blue Bear School of Music, a place to indulge your love of music from the age of 4 months!
This not-for-profit school first opened its doors in 1971, and is today located in Fort Mason on Marina Boulevard. Blue Bear’s School of Music offers classes to children and adults, as well as to young babies.
The school runs a ‘Little Bears’ program - musical discovery classes offer children the opportunity to develop their ears for music (as well as their love for it!) and include plenty of play.
On the piano, the school offers the choice of private, or ‘share with a friend private’ lessons. Students who have the chords down on a keyboard can also audition to join one of the several music groups and bands run by the school.
It’s a great opportunity to learn more about music generally, and piano specifically. It’s similar to what you can find further South, if you’re learning to play the piano in LA, for example.
Little Mission Studio
This recently opened music school is located in the heart of San Francisco’s Mission District, and offers private piano classes, as well as paid vocal and piano sessions. Practice rooms are free to use for students, a blessing if you don’t have your own piano at home, but must be reserved a head of time. Ensembles, repertoire, and beginners' piano classes are all also on offer for children and adults alike.
The Music Room
The Music Room, in Inner Richmond, is a school entirely dedicated to teaching children to play the piano in a fun and friendly environment. The school offers summer sessions which cover the basics of reading music, solfege, rhythm and playing. There are also regular group piano classes for children aged 3-10, using the Harmony Road Method. The Harmony Road Method includes parent participation and also includes fun music games as well as playing piano.
The Community Music Center
This San Francisco institution has two branches - one in Richmond and one in Mission - and has been teaching music since 1921.
The center offers classes in harpsichord and piano, covering styles from classical, jazz, and pop. They recommend that students have a keyboard to practice on at home. Piano students can also choose to take part in several of the center’s ensembles, including the jazz ensemble, latin ensemble, and classical ensembles.
Learn piano with private classes in San Francisco
Outside of music schools and conservatories, it is always possible to learn to play the piano using online courses. The downside, of course, is that you’ll be on your own, with no support for what can often be a difficult task. Taking classes online means there won’t be anyone to correct you as you put your fingers in the wrong place, or pick up bad habits with your rhythm or posture.
Given this, it’s a good idea to opt for private lessons at home to help you learn to play the piano.
The cities and suburbs of the Bay Area offer countless music and piano teachers suitable for students wanting to learning how to play the piano, place their fingers for the chords, and take classes at home.
Superprof has become one of the most popular databases for private teachers. We have plenty of teachers registered in the area who offer their musical talents to help you improve your piano skills or learn to play the piano for the first time.
Craig’s List is also always a good source of private tutors, and there are many university students, especially in Palo Alto, willing to hire out their piano skills to earn a bit of extra money. Just keep in mind that the quality of the teachers can be a bit hit or miss, so try to ask for references if possible.
From San Francisco to Palo Alto, and throughout the Bay Area, there are countless music teachers, schools, and university music departments to help you in your quest to learn to play the piano. There’s no excuse not to learn to play the piano in San Francisco!