Before Max Abrahams was a music teacher, he was a longtime music student. Earning a degree in music from the University of Denver, Max concentrated in jazz music and bass playing. Additionally, on a sojourn in South Africa, he not only studied traditional African music at the University of Kwazulu-Natal in Durban––he learned to play the zulu drum.
He draws on his years of study, as well as stints playing with the Lamont Symphony and assorted jazz trios, as he teaches guitar and bass. His lessons start simple: during the introductory ones, he encourages students to strum out basic songs. However, the lessons soon ramp up to musical theory, sight-reading, and other higher-level material. He also helps his students branch out into a panoply of musical styles, from heavy metal to R&B to pop.
Live performances at events such as the Reno Jazz Festival are regular parts of life for Steve Trovao, a musician with a music degree and more than three decades of drumming experience. At Steve Trovao Drums, he helps students of all ages find their own beats as they learn to play along with their favorite musical genres. A pair of high-quality Pro Drum sets are the centerpiece of the soundproof, acoustically tuned studio, which is also outfitted with a library of drumming books, DVDs, and play-along CDs that mimic the experience of performing with a band.
Captained by multi-instrumentalists Aja and Daniel, the talented teachers at Music to My Ears have trained many accomplished pupils on a range of instruments. The team includes teachers John Paul Norris, who specializes in guitar, bass, and ukulele, and John John, who teaches students to keep the beat through drum and percussion instruction. New students can hone their musicality with one-on-one sessions or alongside their peers during group classes in the 15?x10? ensemble room. Afterward, they can stock up on music books, accessories, or rental instruments in the shop. Players ready to demonstrate their musical chops can rent out the recital room, where up to 45 guests can hear them belt out gorgeous melodies after they quiet the stage's baby grand piano with a pacifier. In addition to concerts, Music to My Ears fills stages with song through its non-profit musical theater program, which annually introduces youngsters to the process of auditioning, rehearsing, and performing in a Broadway-style show.
The first student Cheryl Franklin ever taught was herself. As a child, she never needed goading or threats of a brussels-sprouts-only diet to pick up her music and practice. After performing a one-man band’s worth of instruments throughout her entirely self-taught youth, she attended Whitman College and The Juilliard School of Music, where she stoked her passion into the white-hot flame that it is today. Drawing from a quarter-century of teaching, performing, and recording, she teaches all ages and levels in more than 20 instruments, which range from piano and guitar to ukulele and voice. Lesson programs in her studio start with each student learning a song. Subsequent sessions advance their paces by covering such topics as reading music, music history, and theory. While spinning their melodies, pupils may encounter the music school’s adorable canine mascot, Daisy, a boston terrier known for her baked-bean recipe.
After graduating cum laude from Duquesne University's Mary Pappert School of Music, violinist Kendra Vernon went on to earn a degree in violin performance at Duquesne's Honors College. In 2002, she took the next logical step: sharing her hard-earned skills with aspiring violinists during private lessons. At Vernon Music Studio, she tailors each lesson to the needs of the individual to help students pick up skills quickly and thoroughly. All lessons are one-on-one and free of distractions, and there's a comfortable waiting area for parents.
The main attraction at the El Cerrito Swim Center is a pair of heated outdoor pools, which are open year-round for swimmers of all ages. The competition pool features eight lanes for lap swimmers aged 14 and older, while the recreation pool boasts three lap lanes, as well as shallow play areas, a fountain, and a water slide. Both pools keep a constant schedule packed with lessons, fitness classes, lifeguarding courses, and sea monkey speed dating, and in the summer, the recreation pool hosts open swim seven days a week. The pools are also home to area teams including the East Bay Masters Water Polo Club and the El Cerrito Gators youth swim teams.
Those interested in more laidback activities can come by for Friday Family Fun Nights with themed music and games, or take advantage of facilities that include covered picnic tables, a grass lawn, and a barbecue area. The center also entertains guests with Splash Park, a water-fueled playground with fountains and an installation of colorful buckets that pour water over kids as they fill.