'Blue Bear School Of Music' Opens In FiDi

Nonprofit Blue Bear School of Music is now offering one-on-one guitar lessons in the Financial District.

Hoodline spoke with Dan DeWitt, program director at the new location which opened September 5th, as well as Steve Savage, the school's executive director and one of its founding members. 

One Sansome Street entrance. | Photo: Elaine Gavin/Hoodline

The new classroom is on the 35th floor of 1 Sansome Street, office space that has been soundproofed with largely donated material, Dewitt said. “We do all our lessons on low-volume instruments, specifically electric guitars that are not amped, and chambered acoustic guitars.”

Only solo lessons in guitar are offered here, but the school hopes to add a larger variety of classes, including keyboard instruction. Classes are held between 8am and 9pm. "To offer that kind of timeframe is huge, compared to other locations," said DeWitt. 

Photo: Elaine Gavin/Hoodline

Blue Bear's Fort Mason headquarters houses the bulk of its classes for both adults and children, which include ukulele, mandolin, voice, piano and turntables. Blue Bear also has band practice facilities through Lennon Studio in SoMa and group voice and guitar at the Noe Valley Ministry.

"When you get into middle school and high school range, there’s more band and ensemble things they can do,” said Savage.

Photo: Blue Bear School of Music

The Noe Valley Ministry and Children's Creativity Museum in Yerba Buena Gardens house classes for Blue Bear’s “Little Bears,” students between 4 months and 5 years old. Little Bears also has off-site music classes at various schools and community centers around the city.

“The Little Bears program is all about being exposed to music and being in a musical environment and singing and clapping," said Savage, the school's executive director since 2013.

Photo: Blue Bear School of Music

“We recognize how important music is in people's lives, especially in kids lives," he said. "There’s a lot of benefits in cognitive skills and social skills. What we offer is a supportive environment where kids get to play the music they love.”

Blue Bears partnered with the Haight Street Art Center, which recently opened the doors to its new facility at 215 Haight St. Classes begin at HSAC on October 17th; to get the word out, the center is posting artwork on Muni buses with donation support from media services firm Intersection.

View from Sansome Street classroom. | Photo: Elaine Gavin/HoodlinE

Prices for lessons at the new Sansome spot run around $40 per half hour session; a full catalog with pricing is laid out on the school's website.

Financial aid is also available for younger students, and for students up to age 22, "we also have a scholarship program based on not only need but skill and desire,” said Savage. 

Dan DeWitt. | Photo: Elaine Gavin/Hoodline

Blue Bear is hoping to continue expanding and offering classes in new locations in the city as part of their neighborhood program, such as FiDi's new spot. "Blue Bear's mission is to make music accessible to everyone," said DeWitt.

"Playing music changes lives," said Savage. "Music speaks to us in ways nothing else can. It’s a tremendous force for good in the world."

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Blue bear school of music opens in fidi