Scholarship Program

Sliding Scale

Sliding Scale Support

As part of our Scholarship Program, Blue Bear provides significant savings to students from families with financial need through our generous sliding scale tuition program. The amount of support you receive is based on your gross income from your tax return. Sliding scale support is available on a first-come, first-served basis, and is not limited to the 12-to-25 age group.


Blue Bear Scholarships

  • Music scholarships for young musicians and singers 12-25 years of age are sometimes available based on financial need and the motivation of the applicant.


The Awards

Music scholarships are awarded on a variety of factors including the skill and accomplishment you demonstrate, the talent we perceive, and your interest and commitment to the study of music.

Past Winners

Past Scholarship Winners

Some past music scholarship winners have gone on to successful music careers, including Howard Wiley (tenor sax phenom active in the Bay Area and national jazz scene), essence (successful Bay Area singer/songwriter) and Arion Salazar (bassist with Third Eye Blind). More recent scholarship winners are establishing themselves in emerging bands or as solo artists.
Other scholarship winners have become professional working musicians, and many have maintained an active and rewarding involvement with music balanced with non-music careers. Whatever the result, a Blue Bear Scholarship offers a fantastic opportunity for musical growth and development under the guidance of experienced professional musician/teachers.



Since 1986 Blue Bear has offered music scholarships to talented and dedicated young musicians. These scholarships are supported by music businesses and individuals with an interest in making quality music education available to motivated youth who might not otherwise be able to fully explore their passion.
You can help too! Make a tax-deductible donation to the Blue Bear Scholarship Fund. The form will allow you to note any honorarium or memorial intent. It’s easy! Your grocery purchases can support our music scholarships. And it’s free!
Bobby Sharp was a singer, songwriter, and pianist who spent his final days making music, and calling Alameda home. He is best known for the hit song “Unchain My Heart” made famous by Ray Charles and Joe Cocker. Bobby died in 2013 at the age of 88. His passing marked the end of a life filled with generosity toward friends, colorful storytelling about mid-century times in Los Angeles, New York, and California, and a long songwriting career. Thanks to his creative partnership with fellow singer, songwriter, violinist Natasha Miller, Bobby Sharp lives on with us in the The Bobby Sharp Memorial Scholarship Fund. Donations to The Bobby Sharp Memorial Fund can be made here.

Steve Strauss Founders Fund

Steve Strauss was a visionary, an artist, a musician, an ad man and a lover of friends and family. We are indebted to him for his pivotal role in the founding of Blue Bear School of Music and for his iconic graphics for the school. And we treasure many warm personal memories. We are grateful for support of this special Scholarship Fund, which will underwrite youth programming and/or tuition grants for talented young musicians to provide them with the opportunity to begin, enhance or further their music education and music-related studies. Donations to the Steve Strauss Founders Fund can be made here

Ted O’Connell Memorial Scholarship Fund

Ted O’Connell was a guitar player, luthier, amplifier designer, furniture builder and mountain biker much beloved in the Marin County community. He taught at the Marin location of Blue Bear summer camps for many years, where he influenced and inspired the young guitarists with whom he worked. His passion for tone, idiosyncratic ideas, and judicious use of the Fender Stratocaster whammy bar are well-known to serious guitarists and music-lovers in Marin. Ted was a fixture in the San Anselmo/Fairfax music scene, exemplified by his 14-year Saturday morning residency at the San Anselmo Coffee Roasters with his duo partner and best friend Frank Bohan, often accompanied by fellow musicians Jeb Harrison, Kevin Hayes, Dave Burns, aka the Treblemakers. The depth to which he influenced people with whom he came into contact in any capacity is hard to overstate, and the community was deeply saddened by his unexpected passing on January 3, 2015 at the age of 57 years old. Through a generous donation from an Anonymous Donor, Blue Bear has instituted a Ted O’Connell Memorial Scholarship Fund for young musicians. Donations to the Ted O’Connell Memorial Scholarship Fund can be made here.

Keith Allen Memorial Scholarship

Keith Allen, an early Blue Bear teacher and Association Member, passed away unexpectedly on January 1, 2004. He was 50 years old. According to Bonnie Hayes (Blue Bear teacher, board member and alumna): “To say that Keith was an incredible musician, a precise and soulful singer, a gifted teacher, is to say things that have been said a lot since he died. But what I think he’d like is for me to say that he made musical situations work through generosity, humor, and a kind of pure goodness you don’t see much. Keith was deeply, deservedly loved, and he loved well. And he played well. What’s better than that?”
Through a generous donation from Ned and Robin Selfe, also members of the Blue Bear community in the ’70s, Charles Felsenthal, and Thomas and Patricia Allen, Blue Bear has instituted a Keith Allen Memorial Scholarship for a promising young guitarist. Donations to the Keith Allen Memorial Scholarship can be made here.


  • Anonymous
  • Mike Kappus – The Rosebud Agency
  • Bonnie Raitt
  • Subversive Foundation


  • Anonymous
  • Ellen Beller


  • Ned and Robin Selfe


  • Bill Graham Supporting Foundation of the Jewish Community Federation and Endowment Fund
  • The Walther Foundation


  • Natasha Miller


  • Marilyn Bramwell
  • Clifford Caplan
  • David Dickson
  • Sarah Evers Hoffman
  • Charlene Kennerknecht
  • Jeanne Lambert
  • Sally Power
  • Ken Rackow
  • Penny Rammer
  • April Sheldon
  • Sharon Smith
  • Elise Sommerville
  • Roy Sonn
  • Cynthia Sullivan

Blue Bear School of Music does not discriminate according to race, color, or national or ethnic origin in the administration of its educational and admissions policies and in its programs.