…San Francisco’s pre-eminent school of rock, blues, jazz, folk and pop music
…a home for aspiring musicians of all ages and all skill levels
…a place where each student’s unique talents and goals are recognized and supported
…a nonprofit bringing music programs to underserved communities
…a vibrant community, a place for making, learning, and sharing music
Play the music you love!
Nonprofit organization Blue Bear School of Music was founded as “Blue Bear Waltzes School of Genuine Music” in the summer of 1971 by a rock band called “Wolfgang & Strauss” – “Wolfgang” was a dog, and “Strauss,” two brothers in the band. Before moving to San Francisco to make their fame and fortune (and to found a music school), they lived in Northern California on the Bear River. When naming the school, the brothers Strauss whimsically recalled Johann Strauss’s “Blue Danube Waltz,” substituting the Bear River for the Danube, and the rest is history.
For a period in the mid-’70s, when the founding members moved on, Blue Bear was run by a co-operative of teachers and students. In 1978 operations moved from the original storefront on Ocean Avenue (photo, right) to Fort Mason Center, where Blue Bear has thrived and evolved to its current state of more than 850 music-loving students per quarter. Blue Bear’s current Board of Trustees and Staff includes former “Wolfgang & Strauss” members Steve Savage (ED and Board President) and Richard Strauss along with Electric Orchestra & Folk Chorus (and Blue Bear Association) member Bonnie Hayes. Day-to-day operations are under the direction of Dennis Criteser, a former student who has been associated with the school since 1979.
We’re most celebrated for being a welcoming, energizing, and soulful community that cultivates musical passion and skill in musicians of all ages. As San Francisco’s pre-eminent school of rock, we go deeper with blues, jazz, folk, EM, pop and more.
We’re your home for music. Our doors are open to aspiring musicians of all ages and skill levels. We are passionate about cultivating and supporting your unique talents and goals.
Something that we at Blue Bear have learned in our almost half-century in business is that music truly changes lives. Transformation can occur instantly – bringing joy and happiness. Over time, the habit of music provides confidence, discipline, and improves academic and motor skills while creating community.
Blue Bear strives to bring the power of music to underserved communities all across the San Francisco Bay Area. Through donor support, we offer free and low-cost programs in many wonderful local schools, community centers, churches and family shelters. Your donation to Blue Bear School of Music is an investment in a vibrant, established and legacy nonprofit organization that improves lives. Join our community today.
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Board of Trustees
Tom O’Connell – Chair
Steve Savage – President
Ariel Sutro – Vice Chair
Wyeth Coulter – Treasurer
Steve Strauss – Founder
Mitchell Stevko – Founding chair
Maria Cardamone – Chair
David Schwartz – Chair
David Given – Chair
Dominic Haigh – Chair
Blue Bear is grateful for volunteers who help with
If you have talents or contacts, and the dedication to volunteer with Blue Bear School of Music, please contact us at 415.673.3600 or at [email protected]
Blue Bear School of Music does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national and ethnic origin, age, political affiliation, disability, gender and gender expression, sexual orientation, physical appearance, language, educational background, veteran status, or religious belief in the administration of its educational policies, admission policies, scholarship programs, and other school-administered programs or in affording students the rights, privileges, programs, and activities generally accorded or made available to students at the school.
Blue Bear Band Workshop performing at the Boom Boom Room for their end-of-quarter Showcase