Blue Bear is celebrating 50 years of making music!
Hear a little bit about the early days here, and 
scroll down to see highlights of our last half century.

1971 | Blue Bear is Born!

Blue Bear Waltzes School of Music opens in San Francisco, founded as a nonprofit school by local rock band Wolfgang & Strauss.

Blue Bear students, teachers, and staff outside the first Blue Bear storefront in 1971

1972 | Electric Orchestra and Folk Chorus

Blue Bear introduces the Electric Orchestra and Folk Chorus, a band comprised of over 30 teachers and students. They’re a hit at venues all across San Francisco.


1973 | The Band Breaks Up, the School Lives on!

Wolfgang & Strauss dissolves. The school turned out to be a much better idea than the band.

1970s | Blue Bear Makes News

The school is a hot item! Blue Bear is covered far and wide — from the Chronicle and the brand new BAM Magazine to the nationally-renowned Rolling Stone to the then-fledgling radio station NPR.

1978 | Blue Bear School of Music

Name AND Venue Change! Blue Bear drops the “Waltzes” and moves to Fort Mason Center.

1987 | Scholarship Program

Blue Bear begins its long-running scholarship program, funded by generous donors and celebrity sponsors.


1989 | Welcoming the Bear

Founder Steve Strauss designs the beloved bear logo.

2000 | Rockin' the Bay.

Blue Bear Workshop Bands Bring Music All Around SF! All levels of musicians – put together in Blue Bear created bands – take the stage at the Fillmore, Cafe du Nord, Sweetwater, Boom Boom Room, Bottom of the Hill, The Chapel, and many more!

2001 | Blue Bear is Online!

30 years in, Blue Bear School of Music launches Welcome to the future!

2005 Outreach Programs

bringing the music to those who need it most, including partnerships with SFUSD, Glide Memorial, Tenderloin Rec Center, Bayview YMCA, and more!

A child smiles as she plays the guitar.
2005 | Blue Bear Live

Blue Bear debuts Blue Bear Live, showcasing the best of the best. Headlined over the years by Elvin Bishop, Los Lobos Mavis Staples, Trombone Shorty and more!


2006 | Little Bears!

Blue Bear introduces the wildly popular and incredibly cute toddler music program “Little Bears”. 

2010 | All Star Bands

Blue Bear introduces the All Star Band Program, forming awesome middle and high school rock bands!

Rock band summer camp

2016 | Legacy Business

Blue Bear is recognized as a San Francisco Legacy Business, joining a prestigious group of fewer than 300 community-serving businesses that are recognized as valuable cultural assets  —  not to mention that they’re some of SF’s favorite places!

2020 | Apart, but together!

Blue Bear weathers the storm, and makes the most of socially-distanced music education.  (But we miss our friends!) Lessons on zoom and Little Bears in the park help keep us making music throughout the shutdown. 

Teacher Rachel tunes a ukulele in the park while a toddler in the foreground holds a rhythm stick.
2021 | blue bear turns 50!

Blue Bear celebrates 50 years! To commemorate the milestone, we gathered a few of the current Blue Bear crew — some teachers, staff, board members and a four-legged friend — in front of the original Ocean Ave campus. We are so grateful for our deep history, and along with our loyal, incredible and musical community, we look forward to making music for another 50 years!

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