Music Lessons in Millbrae

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After finishing her classical education in Moscow, piano player Elena Orduyan switched from student to teacher. For more than a decade, she’s taught the ivory-tickling arts to youths and adults alike, sending students off to institutions like Juilliard with skills she helped them hone. She tailors each lesson to her individual students, creating customized lesson books for every player and curating her own lesson materials by mixing and matching texts from a variety of publishers and schools of thought. Her curricula extend past key-tapping: beginners also pick up the basics of music theory, and intermediate-level musicians learn to use music software. Orduyan even helps young kids along with color-coded markers and stickers. Never content to rest on her musical laurels, she also furthers her own education by attending annual music-teaching conferences and events.

720 El Camino Real
Belmont,
CA
US

Mexico City native Ricardo Téllez began dancing when he was 12, shimmying his way through styles such as cumbia and guaracha. In 1995, he packed up his dancing shoes and moved to the Bay area, accelerating his salsa study not only by studying under Gabriel Romero, but also by trying out his footwork in clubs. Armed with a passion for dance, Ricardo founded RicaSalsa Dance Company in 1999 to share his love of the art. Today, he and dance partner Tianne Frias—with whom he placed third in the World Latin Dance Cup—teach private lessons and group classes that impart new and advanced dancers with the steps, partnership skills, and medallions filled with glowworms needed to light up the floor. By focusing on social dance skills and the ability to follow the rhythm, they help their students adapt easily to different songs and settings.

1830 17th St
San Francisco,
CA
US

When Joan Barnes founded Gymboree Play & Music in 1976, she envisioned a facility where parents and children could play together in a safe and age-appropriate environment. In the following decades, Gymboree Play & Music spread to more than 30 countries across the globe, helping youngsters from infants to 5 years old develop cognitive, physical, and social skills. The company's instructors lead classes such as Play & Learn, its flagship course, in which parents and kids move through a seven-level program filled with storytelling, play activities, and debates on the merits of sandwich crust. Talented staffers also prep youngsters for school and foster development in areas such as music, art, and sports. Throughout all classes, they make use of custom play equipment designed by acclaimed playground designer and seesaw-tamer Jay Beck.

1525 Sloat Blvd
San Francisco,
CA
US

Operating out of Washburn Studio, DJ Chucky Brown of The Art of DJing trains his students when to rock the party and when to recognize that the party is happening inside a lifeboat. “You throw bait out,” he says, recognizing that different crowds, such as indie dance rock and Top 40 audiences, require different tunes. “If you start with Azari and nothing happens, throw out some Datarock or LCD Soundsystem; or if you start with Daft Punk, then throw out some Usher, Calvin Harris, or Madonna.” Brown imparts this encyclopedic knowledge of music in private, small-group, and large-scale classes, where his charges learn how to mix, scratch, and reinvent on the fly. On Brown’s student mixes page, visitors can listen to mash-ups and mixtapes created by his former pupils. The DJ has even performed for several of the artists sampled by his students and himself, having spun at events thrown by Elton John, Missy Elliot, and Justin Timberlake.

473 Broadway St.
San Francisco,
CA
US

Before he met singing instructor David Stroud—a onetime coach of American Idol's Adam Lambert—Alexys Paris subjected his naturally mellifluous vocal cords to constant stress, admitting on his website that he would "force notes or yell on pitch." Working in the Speech Level Singing system, Stroud taught Paris how to blend the various registers of his voice and to better control his pipes, a method that inspired Paris to take up vocal coaching himself. Now a Level III instructor in the system, Alexys teaches students how to comfortably transition from the deep-chest register to the high-pitched head register without resorting to voice-straining exertions or discretely switching places with virtuoso body doubles.

681 Page St
San Francisco,
CA
US

The skilled instructors at Inspire Music Center encourage students to express themselves through song during beginner, intermediate, and advanced lessons in a variety of instruments, including electric guitar, cello, French horn, and voice. Its ensemble of music graduates and seasoned performers uses its extensive musical knowledge and collection of 20 different instruments to teach aspiring musicians proper playing techniques, practice methods, theory, and how to topple glass houses with high notes. In addition to honing students' music-playing skills, instructors prep advanced pupils for professional auditions, instrumental competitions, and concerts.

1241 Taraval St
San Francisco,
CA
US