Meet Our Teaching Faculty

San Francisco’s Best Music Teachers & Educators

 

Our Team, One Commitment

Our faculty is deeply committed to teaching as a profession, dedicated to helping students meet their unique goals.

Blue Bear teachers also work as musicians, expert in their individual crafts, with significant experience in the music industry.

Teacher Bios

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Lea Centauri

Lea Centauri has been singing since age four.  She is the author of two vocal programs:  Voicedance for Young Voices and Inner Voice for adults.
 
A mezzo-soprano, Lea lived in Paris for several years, performing and teaching throughout France as well as in other countries in Europe, in Turkey, and in North Africa.  She is a vocal coach for all genres–Jazz, Pop, Blues, R&B, Rock, Show Tunes, Hip Hop, and Rap–working with individuals on technique and preparation for recording and performance.  Lea is also a songwriter and teaches beginning piano.  She teaches only private online lessons

Caroline Dahl

Caroline Dahl plays boogie-woogie, blues and rock piano in bands and solo at many Bay Area clubs.  She is frequently seen wearing sequins and sensible shoes.  Born and raised in Louisville, Kentucky, she earned a B.A. in English Literature from the University of Kentucky.  She had some classical piano lessons in high school, but soon abandoned them to self-teaching of American popular styles picked up from records and the radio.  Specializing in up-tempo boogie woogie, swing, and blues, Caroline currently plays with the Cajun/American roots band, Tom Rigney and Flambeau.  Caroline also plays solo piano regularly on Sundays at Mama’s Royal Cafe in Mill Valley.  She has played solo at piano boogie-woogie and blues festivals in France, Switzerland, Norway, Belgium, Denmark, Canada, and at numerous venues in the United States.  She is also an internationally exhibiting textile artist. carolinedahl.com and YouTube at dahlvideoCaroline teaches only private lessons.
 
What students are saying:
  • “Caroline is a great teacher. She is patient, teaches at a pace that is understandable to me and is upbeat and encouraging. I look forward to my lesson every week and always leave motivated to learn more and get better.” – Mike E.

Sharman Duran

Sharman Duran, vocalist and keyboardist, has been performing jazz standards, Top 40, Soul, Rock, Pop, and Latin jazz in bands since 1976.  She works with students in high school and adults.  Sharman teaches private lessons in voice and piano – in person or online.

Francesca Lee

Francesca Lee graduated from Sir Paul McCartney’s Liverpool Institute For Performing Arts (Music) in 2002 majoring in pop vocal performance and songwriting with disciplines in both guitar and keyboard.  She is best known for her soulful/sultry vocals and music that merges styles of Folk, Pop, Blues, and Jazz.
 
During her residency in the U.K., Francesca performed as a backup singer for the popular televised awards show, The Top of the Pop Awards at The Manchester Arena alongside artists like Nellie Furtado, Tom Jones, Mariah Carey, Jennifer Lopez, Kylie Minogue, Wyclef, and Travis.  She was also featured in a pilot episode for the MTV Networks show (The Real World).  She recorded her first debut independent album with Scottish Sony recording artist Sandi Thom, who later topped the Billboard charts in the U.K. with her song “I Wish I Was a Punk Rocker.”
 
In 2004 she moved to San Francisco and established herself in the Bay Area music scene as a singer-songwriter.  A top ten regional finalist in The Lilith Fair Talent Search through Ourstage.com, songs from her album The Pieces Left, produced by Michael Winger, Executive Director for NARAS (The Grammys), was featured on KFOG’S LOCAL Scene Vol. 6 and Songwriters Unplugged-Live at Yoshi’s.
 
She has been working as a professional musician in The Bay Area since 2004 and has been a staff show producer for Bread & Roses Presents since 2010.  She is passionate about guiding students on how to discover their own unique sound, carve out their niche, and how to develop their craft as singer-songwriters.  She has also served as a previous judge for West Coast Songwriter’s monthly songwriting showcase & competition.
 
Francesca teaches online private lessons.

Lucia Pontoniere

A native of San Francisco, Lucia Pontoniere began playing violin at the age of 6. After pursuing classical violin seriously for 10 years, she began to explore other styles of music on the violin, including jazz, Irish, Scottish, and old-time fiddle. Lucia graduated from Berklee College of Music in 2018 with a Bachelor’s in Violin Performance and American Roots Music. During and after college she toured the country and recorded albums with her band The Ladles, a space where she began to explore writing songs and playing the guitar. Lucia teaches all styles of violin and fiddle as well as guitar, voice, ukulele, songwriting, and beginner piano. She particularly likes to work with violinists who have mostly played in a classical setting and are looking to explore other styles of music. She loves teaching and her music philosophy is built upon the idea that we should always follow the spark of our creativity.

Janak Ramachandran

Janak Ramachandran has been playing guitar for the better part of two decades and teaching it for more than 15 years.  His acoustic guitar technique is designed to progressively build the skills needed to become a one-man or one-woman band.  With the use of songs specifically chosen for their instructive value, Janak’s teaching approach can take you from your first notes and chords to the complex rhythms, chord progressions, and scale knowledge that can make you a complete guitar player. Electric guitar shares many skills in common with the acoustic guitar, of course, but Janak’s electric approach includes more tailored skill building with regards to both the tools of phrasing (particularly as it applies to single-note lead work) and the aesthetic variety of different chord styles.  Since Janak also teaches voice and songwriting, he is a one-stop shop for anyone wanting to eventually sing and play together, whether learning to create their own music or interpreting the songs of others. 
 
Janak began his vocal training at the age of six and eventually studied more professionally following college in various styles including Bel Canto and Speech Level Singing.  By combining ideas from these and other vocal schools of thought (e.g., Alexander Technique), he forms his foundational vocal philosophy, upon which he layers his own technique.  He has had success coaching beginning students unable to match pitch to eventually perform on stage as well as guide professional singers in the studio when recording an album.  He has fronted (both with and without an instrument) numerous bands, performed in musicals as well as dramatic and comic stage plays, and developed an acting technique for singers and instrumentalists designed specifically for musicians performing on stage. In 2008, Janak’s band Bottoms Up! was the top cover band in a California battle of the bands competition.  His teaching credits include the children of Todd Rundgren and Linda Ronstadt as well as numerous local musicians in bands like Tainted Love and The Doorslammers, some of whom have studied with Janak for years.
 
Learn more about Janak at musiclessonguru.com and secretsofsinging.com.  Janak teaches online private lessons in guitar, voice, ukulele, bass, and piano, and group voice and guitar classes online and in-person at Blue Bear.
 
What students are saying:
  • “Every week is challenging, requiring lots of practice in between, but rewarding because skills that seemed impossible when they’re introduced come easily within a couple weeks. The variety and progression by which skills are introduced simply cannot be reproduced in a self-taught environment & the group setting provides the additional motivation to practice during the week. I feel fortunate to have stumbled upon Janak from the beginning and I highly recommend him to anyone similarly looking to learn guitar from the ground up!” – Forbes H.

John Turner

With an early background in trumpet, piano, and voice in concert bands, marching bands, community symphony orchestras, and barbershop quartets, John Turner eventually settled on the keys, touring with national recording groups and working as a session player.  He has also accompanied cabaret acts and played for Top 40 and show bands, upscale restaurants, five-star hotels, corporate events, and private parties.  John teaches only online private lessons
 
What students are saying:
  • “I am a mid-forties professional with absolutely zero musical experience. I started in November of 2012 and this was my first musical lesson of any form. Although Fort Mason is far for me to travel, I have never considered changing my teacher, because John has an ability to make it interesting and change the lesson based on what you need so that it never gets boring. Even when I feel completely stuck and think I just don’t have the time to devote to it, John finds some way from his wonder tool kit to make me produce a little break through.” – Sabine

Amanda VanderMeer

Amanda VanderMeer graduated with high honors from Portland Community College’s Professional Music Program and has been playing and writing music for twenty-five years, touring the globe and releasing two studio albums. Since 2006, she has taught a wide range of ages in drums, piano, vocals, music theory, and songwriting. She plays drums in her current band Deathtrap America.  Amanda teaches online private lessons in piano, drums, and voice, and is Co-Director of our All Star Band Program.

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