Noe Valley Voice May 1998

Music Classes for a Song

By Michele Lynn

Is your child itching to tickle the ivories, twang the guitar, or just clap to the beat of the music? If so, you may want to check out some neighborhood music classes for your budding Beethoven or Spice Girls.

Rhythm Kids, a class held at Natural Resources, 1307 Castro St., for children 18 months to 31/2 years, gives students the chance to sing songs, play instruments, and dance. The class, says instructor Katherine Baird, is "a really fun way to get kids involved in music and teach them the fundamentals in an enjoyable way."

During the 40-minute sessions, kids -- accompanied by a parent or caregiver -- learn how to tap out a beat, do finger games to music, and play percussion instruments like bells, drums, and rhythm sticks.

Baird, a cello player who also teaches that instrument, has been leading Rhythm Kids for the past three years. "I really love the kids," she says. "It's fun to see them develop. There are always a few kids who sit quietly the first few classes, but by the fourth class they're joining in."

The next six-week series of Rhythm Kids begins June 9. Classes cost $49 for the session, and are offered Tuesday mornings from 10:40 to 11:20, or Friday mornings from 10:40 to 11:20 and 11:30 to 12:10. Class size is limited to nine (plus one adult per child). To register, call Natural Resources at 550-2611.

A hop, skip, and a jump away from Noe Valley, at 544 Capp St. in the Mission (between 20th and 21st streets), Community Music Center offers a wide range of group and individual music classes.

"Music is a joyful thing," says Steve Shapiro, executive director of the center. "Why not involve a child in something so enriching?"

In the "Music for Children" class, kids 4 to 7 develop their musical skills through rhythm games, songs, movement, and a variety of instruments. In "Introduction to Keyboards," 6- to 8-year-olds can try their hand at the piano.

Community Music Center also offers private lessons for children ages 8 and up (adults can take lessons too). Instruction is available in many Western classical instruments, including piano, guitar, and flute. But students can also try popular Latin instruments like the conga drum, or folk instruments such as the Chinese version of the hammered dulcimer. Classes generally meet once a week.

Registration for the summer session, which runs July 6 to Aug. 29, will be held June 26, 3 to 7 p.m., and June 27, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. The registration fee is $10.

For group classes, the cost is $114 for the full eight-week session. Students who take private lessons pay $134 for a series of half-hour classes or $268 for hour-long classes.

An open house featuring the Music for Children class will be held on Wednesday, June 24, from 3:30 to 4:15 p.m. (for kids 4 and 5) and from 5:30 to 6:15 p.m. (for ages 4 to 7).

For a complete list of classes or to RSVP to the open house, call Community Music Center at 647-6015.