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  • Amy Levine

    Piano - Wed & Thurs (SAN RAFAEL)

    Genres: Classical, Jazz, Blues, Pop, Latin
    Specialties: Ear Training, Improvisation and Harmony

    Amy Nicole Levine was born in San Francisco. From the age of 3, she was picking out tunes on the piano by ear. At age 7, she began her classical training. In her teens, she branched into Jazz, R&B and funk and started playing in the school jazz band and joined an original band. Upon graduating high school, she started playing in other original bands as well as cover bands, performing at various clubs in the Bay Area. She took some music classes at the college of Marin and soon after transfered to San Francisco Sate University where she studied music and sociology.

    After college, she joined hip hop band 75 degrees who worked their way up to performing in Bay Area venues sharing the same bill with the Roots, Digital Underground, the Pharcyde, Common, and other well known artists. You can still catch them performing in the Bay Area.

    Amy returned to school at Los Medanos to study recording arts and proceeded to intern at several recording studios such as the Plant, Laughing Tiger, and Tarpan Studios, with Narada Michael Walden.

    Amy Nicole, or more frequently named, “Amynix”, also has worked with and performed with other Bay Area artists namely Biambu, Pi, Regina Espinoza, Juan Escovedo, Dbass and the Meeting, and currently performs with party band, Notorious and other local artists.

    Don't forget to check out Amy's website, www.amynix.com.

  • Andrea Ingraham

    KINDERMUSIK CLASSES in San Rafael - Starting in May! Sign up Today!

    Andrea has been teaching children's music classes for 11 years and a Kindermusik Studio owner for 8. She is very proud to be sharing her love of music with children in Marin and Sonoma Counties. She has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Music and Vocal Performance from Chico State and 30 years of performance experience. Her main instrument is her voice, however, she played violin for 10 years, and plays ukulele, piano, and autoharp for her music classes. It is her joy in life to pass on what she has learned and experienced through her passion for music.

  • Angeline Saris

    Electric Bass - Wed (SAN RAFAEL)

    Genres: Teaches All Music Genres

    Angeline has taught at the National Guitar Workshop, at the Warwick Bass Camp in Germany, in the Marin County and LA Unified School District and privately for over 10 years.

    Angeline got her start at San Rafael High School, where she began playing bass in the award winning jazz band, then headed by Mark Peabody (who started MSA). After high school, she went on to attend UC Berkeley for Rhetoric/Pre-law. During her four years at Cal, Angeline continued her bass studies through the extracurricular Cal Jazz program. Since graduation, she has studied with Uriah Duffy, Bobby Vega, Kai Eckhardt, Rodney Franklin and Narada Michael Walden. She also had the amazing opportunity to take a lesson from bass giant Victor Wooten. "I've looked up to him since I was 16. To take a lesson with him was one of the best moments of my life."

    Angeline now works as a full-time freelance bassist touring for a number of bands, doing session work and releasing music for her solo projects. Playing in groups whose stylistic range include rock, jazz, funk, R&B, Cuban, metal, flamenco, hip-hop and rockabilly has made her one of the busiest bassists in the SF Bay. She currently plays mostly with Narada Michael Walden, Ernest Ranglin, Zepparella and has even had the opportunity to share the stage with Carlos Santana, Steve Morse and Richie Sambora. She tours regularly and can be seen playing out live almost every weekend in venues across the US and the world.

    As far as her teaching style, Angeline's number one priority is to make it fun and interesting for the student while making sure to include some solid musical theory. "Take the main guitar riff to 'My Girl' for example. It's a major pentatonic scale. If a student knows how that line goes, they already have some theory under their belt without even knowing it!"

    Angeline is proudly endorsed by Fender, GHS Strings, MONO cases, West Coast Pedal Boards, Warwick, Marleaux Basses and Harman pedals. To learn more, please visit her website at: www.angelinesaris.com.

    Check out a cool video of Angeline here : "Angeline Saris for GHS Strings"



  • Avelix Cueto

    Guitar - Thurs (SAN RAFAEL)

    Genres: All genres
    Specialties: Classical Guitar & Hard Rock/ Metal

    Avelix began playing the guitar at age 11. He learned from his friends and was self taught until he was 19. Unsatisfied with his knowledge on the guitar, he decided to take lessons and a dramatic improvement began taking place in his playing. He studied classical guitar and in 1994 he was invited to play at the prestigious Lincoln Center in New York City. Avelix enjoys playing genres from Alternative Rock, Classic Rock, Heavy Metal, and Classical Guitar. In 1995 he taught at Colton Music Center in Hayward for five years. He pursued other business ventures but came back to music so now he fulfills his passion by teaching and developing repertoire for his students, for himself, and constantly developing strategies to keep the lessons interesting.

    Avelix teaches students of all ages, starting with children as young as 8. He is a patient and thorough teacher who encourages the student to progress through consistent practice, dedication, and positive reinforcement.
  • Brett Fenex

    Guitar - Wed (SAN RAFAEL) - - - - Tue & Thurs (SANTA ROSA)

    Genres: Folk, Rock, Jazz

    Specialties: Sight Reading, Theory, Composition, Songwriting

    Hello, I am Brett Fenex and I have been in love with the guitar for thirty years! In that time I have studied classical, jazz, rock, folk, pop, funk and blues (not necessarily in that order). I am Musical Director for Alchemia, a non-profit organization serving the developmentally different community in the creative and performing arts.

    I currently perform with the West County Jazz collective as well as “strange daisies”, an original folk/rock band and as a solo artist. I recently won Song of the Year from the West Coast Songwriter's Association for my song “New Year Blues”.

    In my twenty year tenure at Bananas At Large I have nurtured a love of the instrument and music in many students who have become accomplished musicians in their own right. My curriculum consists of classical coordination exercises and sight reading in addition to improvisation and theory. Dull as this may sound, I make every effort to keep it FUN! I also devote a portion of the lesson to include whatever the student would like to work on, be it popular songs, soloing, improvisation or composition.

    Most of all I seek to inspire a love of music in general and guitar in particular, to create an outlet for a lifetime of enjoyment and creative self expression.

  • Christian Pepin

    Percussion & Drums - Fri, Sat, and Sun (SAN RAFAEL)

    Specialties: Timbales, Congas, Bongos, Cajon, and Latin Percussion

    “If a conga could talk and sing, it would certainly be in the voice of Christian Pepin, for he speaks through his instrument. Equally fluent in Jazz, Salsa and other Latin and World idioms, his fluid versatility sets him apart. Christian's total command of his instrument allows him a freedom of expression that is at once captivating and liberating, powerful and genuine.”

    A musical multi-linguist 2014 GRAMMY® Award Winner and 2016 GRAMMY® Nominated Percussionit, Christian Pepin is a versatile musician that embodies the soul of a percussionist that inherently stirs the human spirit. From his supersonic slaps to the thunderous open tones and heavy hitting bass notes, the young Christian Pepin shows perceptiveness and adoration for Latin and World music. His keen sense, gifted interpretation of music, and the influence of the New York streets has allowed Christian to translate his bliss. Whether it be on the stage or set to Avant-garde Jazz, Salsa, Latin Jazz, he can make his drums speak fluently to any listener.

    From his humble roots in Rio Piedras, Puerto Rico, Christian Pepin has played music all his life. His father, a gifted musician in his own right, and mother, a talented vocalist, gave him a set of drums at the tender age of six. As he became older, he made the transition to timbale, then congas, and onto bongó all while perfecting his musical craft. Music is innately a dominant part of the Pepin family: his great-grandfather Toño Pepin, his Grandfather Papo Pepin, and his cousin Bobby Allende. All musical icons and legends in their own right. Music breathes life into the soul of Christian Pepin that sustains him as a musician.

    He has performed and/or recorded with the likes of Poncho Sanchez, Tommy Igoe, Nestor Torres, Pete Escovedo, Steve Turre, Sheila E. as well as the likes of other Latin artist such as Roberto Roena,

    Jose Alberto "El Canario", Tito Nieves, Michael Stuart,

    Tony Vega, Tito Rojas, Ray De la Paz, Spanish Harlem Orchestra and many other artists.


  • Clarence Stephens

    Bass - Mon & Thurs (SAN RAFAEL)

    Genres: Teaches All Music Genres
    Specialties: Electric, Acoustic, and Upright Bass

    Clarence Stephens, B.A. Performing Arts

    Learn To Play Your Bass - Take Lessons with Clarence

    Classically Trained - Professional Performer
    Electric - Acoustic - Fretless - All Styles

    I will teach you what you need to know:

    Know Your Fingerboard
    Basic Scales You Must Know
    Walking Bass Line Construction
    Getting Friendly With The Piano
    Blues Lines
    Walking Lines
    Developing Dexterity
    Soloistic Concepts

    Ready To Take It To The Next Level?
  • Cole Tate

    Ukulele & Guitar - Mondays (SAN RAFAEL)

    Genres: Blues, Rock, Folk and Pop

    Cole Tate is an inspiring and patient guitar / ukulele teacher as well as a band leader, singer/songwriter/guitarist with The Cole Tate Band. Cole has been a music instructor, professional touring musician and recording artist for over 25 years. He teaches acoustic and electric guitar to all ages and all skill levels, and loves working with beginners and kids! He teaches most styles with an emphasis on blues, rock, folk and pop.

    His passion for teaching is contagious, as he inspires his students to have fun with their learning process and to work on songs that they love.

    Cole also teaches guitar to middle school students through a non-profit program called Ripple Jams which promotes equality in education through music in schools who don't have sufficient funding for a musical curriculum.


  • Dana Miller

    Drums - Mon, Tue, Fri & Sat (SAN RAFAEL)

    Genres: Teaches All Music Genres

    Dana has been teaching students of all ages and levels for over 10 years. He has been a working professional drummer for over 20 years and brings that experience to his students.

    Having studied with drumming masters such as Chuck Brown and Pete Magadini, among others, Dana has developed a very natural, efficient approach to technique on the drum set. This technique ensures the student has a solid foundation on which to develop his/her playing. The focus is on good technique followed by an organized approach to developing coordination and creativity on the drums.

    Students of all levels and ages are welcome. For younger students, the focus is on building good practice habits and reading fundamentals (a skill they can use on any instrument they play), along with a fun atmosphere in which to learn.

  • Daryl Bond

    Guitar - Mon Tue Wed Thurs & Fri (SAN RAFAEL)

    Genres: All genres

    Daryl Bond has been playing guitar since 1996 and teaching professionally since 2006. He has a degree in Jazz Performance from Cornish College of the Arts in Seattle, WA, and has studied with some of the finest guitarists on the West Coast, including Chris Pimentel, Mike Denny, and Dave Peterson. He has performed with legendary jazz trombonist Julian Priester (Herbie Hancock Sextet), Latin Grammy nominee Jovino Santos Neto, and opened for The Bad Plus.

    Daryl enjoys playing and teaching a wide variety of guitar styles, from progressive rock to jazz. He currently lives in San Francisco and teaches at Bananas At Large in San Rafael. Daryl’s teaching philosophy is that learning guitar should be fun, and the student's interests should always come first.

    When not immersed in music, Daryl enjoys surfing and spending time with his girlfriend, Katie, and their dog, Fred.

    For more information, check out his website www.darylbond.com

  • John Varn

    Piano - Mon & Tue (SAN RAFAEL)

    Genres: Classical, Rock, Jazz, Pop, R&B, Soul

    Specialties: Improvisation, Classical Technique , Hammond Organ , Classic Rock and Pop Piano Style

    John Robin Varn began studying music at the age of 10 through school ensembles and private lessons until graduating Sir Francis Drake High School and continuing on to College of Marin to study Classical and Jazz Piano.

    At age 19, after 2 years of College, JRV started playing keyboards professionally in the Bay Area music scene, working with various local artists until joining The Neal Schon Band(guitarist of Journey) for its debut U.S. tour and follow up recording which lead to a full time touring position with the Piano based pop group Thriving Ivory and a spot on the VH1 “Best Cruise Ever”. Since then JRV has expanded into the realm of teaching, instructing, and music direction/production and also continued to tour and record with a wide spectrum of artists from Bay Area favorites The Mother Truckers and Petty Theft to the late 60s jazz pop group Orpheus and 80s hitmaker Greg Kihn.

    “As a teacher I like to fashion the lessons directly to the student, wether its classical, jazz, rock or pop. Each student learns differently and i find the best way to advance a students progress is to create a specific pace and environment that suits their specific needs, strengths and weaknesses..”


    Some Skills and Concepts (each point can be taught from a beginner level to an advanced level) :

    *Reading musical notation

    *Scales, modes, chord progressions and general music theory

    *Classical technique/interpretation and fingering skills


    *Ear Training

    *Themes and traits of popular Piano/Keyboard styles from early jazz, swing and ragtime/stride, to modal jazz and fusion, to classic rock and all the way through 80s-contemporary keyboard production(including how to build your own sounds or recreate sounds and patches for electronic keyboards and synthesizers).

  • Josh Needleman

    Upright Bass & Electric Bass - Tue, Wed, Thurs (SAN RAFAEL)

    Genres: Blues, Rock, Jazz, Pop, Classical, Bluegrass, Folk, Latin, Reggae, R&B, Funk
    Specialities: Beginners, Jamming and Improvisation, Bass Techniques, Bass Theory

    Bassist and author of the best selling bass instruction manual "Getting Around The Bass" Josh Needleman has taught electric and upright bass students of all ages and levels at Bananas at Large since 1997. Known for his patience, excellent playing ability, and thorough knowledge of technique, theory, reading, transcribing, and improvisation, Josh Needleman has inspired hundreds of bass players to improve. Josh is a regular transcription and video contributor to Bass Musician Magazine http://bassmusicianmagazine.com/author/joshneedleman/ and has also recently co authored another bass instruction book for Hal Leonard Corp where he wrote 100 two page lessons (and played 201 sound samples) on jazz bass concepts for both electric and upright bass. "Jazz Bass Goldmine" hit the shelves on January 1st 2015!

    Check out Josh Needleman's website here: http://www.joshneedleman.net

    I also offer flat-picking acoustic guitar lessons customized to your learning style.
    Beginning to advanced players of all ages welcome.

    I can teach you:

    - Your favorite songs (folk, bluegrass, jazz, gypsy jazz, blues, acoustic rock)
    - How to play solid rhythm from chord symbols
    - How to pick the melodies to tunes
    - How to play many different chords & their uses
    - How to solo over chords
    - Fast flatpicking technique and tone production
    - Singing while playing

  • Josh Zee

    Guitar - Mon, Tue, Wed (SAN RAFAEL)

    Genres: Rock, Blues, Country

    Josh Zee has been playing for over thirty years, is a major label recording artist, session player, touring musician and has been teaching for over 15 years. Josh has recorded 2 major label records on the SONY/Work label as the singer/guitarist and songwriter for the Rock group "Protein". They toured extensively throughout the U.S. on "The Warped Tour" and also toured Europe and Japan as part of MTV Asia Summer Fest. Josh’s next original band, "the Mother Truckers", has released 4 albums, toured all over the country and Europe, and have played along side such acts as Willie Nelson, Hank Williams 3, The Old 97’s, The Avett Brothers, the Supersuckers and many more. He also currently plays with The Whiskey Sisters and Mojo Rising, just to name a few. Josh has been written up in many national publications including frequent features in Guitar Player Magazine. Josh has many production and arrangement credits on the albums of other artists as well.

    “…this guy is still the best-kept secret in the blues-based country-fried universe!” - Matt Blackett, GUITAR PLAYER MAGAZINE

    Josh Zee Shred Compilation


  • Kathy Quain

    A Music Educator in the San Francisco Bay Area for over 20 years, Kathy Quain, MME, MT-BC, is now living and teaching in Marin County. Kathy began studying piano at the age of five in Seoul, Korea, trained at the Aspen Music Festival, Northwestern University and holds a Masters of Music Education in Music Therapy. She is founder of www.MusicForTherapy.com, www.MarinMusicLessons.com and www.PacificDrumCircles.com. A spokeswoman for the power of drumming, her work has been featured on PBS and endorsed by Remo, Inc.

    A certified Orff Schulwerk Music Specialist, her teaching style caters to each student from practical technics to game-like fun. She inspires music students of all ages to achieve their personal best. At Feather River Camp, Kathy simultaneously taught kids & parents learning ukulele for the first time. They performed together at the end of the summer camp week! She has a wide range of enjoyable songs spanning many decades and is a regular performer at the Wine Country Ukulele Festival in Napa Valley.

    Students master their favorite songs & fun strumming patterns. For those interested in more advanced study, students learn to read music, tablature and to play melodies on their ukuleles.

    Private Lessons are currently only on a Waitlist for Kathy. Please contact us to be placed on a Waitlist.

    Kathy also leads our monthly Ukulele Meetup starting in January 2017.

  • Lynn Asher

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    Do what you love, and you will find a way to get it out into the world.” – Singer/songwriter Judy Collins

    For the past twenty years, Lynn has been helping singers and singer/songwriters achieve their dreams and goals. As a voice teacher, coach and mentor, Lynn works to develop each artist’s skills and confidence to deliver an honest, dynamic, heartfelt performance. She also helps prepare students for auditions, open mic's, touring and recording projects, including lyric writing and vocal arranging.

    Whether you are singing covers or your own original material, students will learn how to best serve the lyric and melody with a focus on phrasing, rhythm, breath work, placement, vowel shaping and more, while incorporating live performance skills. Lessons include music backing tracks for practice and or recording purposes.

    Lynn was born in Portland, Maine and grew up in two adjacent coastal towns in Cumberland and Yarmouth. Her Welsh Grandmother was a Soloist in the Baptist church, and her Aunts and Uncles all performers, sang and played piano. Music was always a part of family life. Listening to the radio and playing records was one of her favorite things to do. She loved the music her family played on their stereo, and spent hours singing along to her transistor radio or her 45’s. From Gospel, Rock & Roll and R&B, to Country, Jazz, Big Bands and Musicals, Lynn enjoyed it all and found she had a natural ability and love of expressing herself through music. Her influences included artists from the 50's, 60's, 70's. Artists like Elvis, Dolly Parton, Patsy Cline, Glenn Miller, The Rat Pack, Frank Sinatra to The Doors, The Rolling Stones, The Beatles, Aerosmith and Led Zeppelin, as well as The Mamas and the Papas, and later Janis Joplin, Aretha Franklin, Patty LaBelle, Melissa Etheridge and Lucinda Williams.

    With a childhood dream of moving to California and pursing a career in entertainment, Lynn left her roots in 1994 and moved to Marin County, CA to pursue her love of singing and performing. She landed in Mill Valley, home of the legendary Sweetwater Saloon, and in a few short months, Lynn met master vocal coach Raz Kennedy who helped launch her music career, and the rest is “herstory.”

    Lynn’s dynamic performances, and music connections, placed her in the forefront of the Bay Area music scene. Her band Asher & Paige, with fellow rocker Allyson Paige, was beloved by fans and musicians alike. Her performances came to the attention of Dave Getz, drummer with Janis Joplin’s original band Big Brother & The Holding Co. Before she knew it, Lynn was paying homage to her lifelong idol Janis Joplin, touring the U.S. as the lead singer for Big Brother. Lynn has also shared the stage with Grammy Award winning producer and drummer, Narada Michael Walden, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee, Jerry Harrison, (Talking Heads) and Miles Schon, James Moseley, Bob Weir, James Nash, Raz Kennedy, Vicki Randle, Bonnie Hayes and many more. She also hit the Billboard charts with one of the Bay Area’s favorite bands Danny Click and the Hell Yeah’s!

    An avid supporter of her local community, Lynn volunteers her time and talent to Bread & Roses and the Narada Michael Walden Foundation. Lynn is also a passionate supporter of charities who support Breast Cancer research. Since 2009, Lynn has helped raise money and awareness for Breast Cancer performing at “Wine, Women and Song’s” annual benefit fundraiser, and most recently for “To Celebrate Life's" annual fundraiser for Breast Cancer.

    For more information please visit Lynn's website www.lynnasher.com

  • Marina Lynn

    Piano - Wed & Saturdays (SANTA ROSA)

    Ms. Lynn has a Bachelor's and Master's degrees in piano performance, music education and Art History from the Music College of Tashkent (Russia). She is a member of Music Teachers Association of California and was teaching "Music for Young Children" program which was created to develop solid music skills among preschoolers and elementary school children, based on Karl Orff and Zoltan Kodaly methods. Currently, she is collaborating with the Santa Rosa Symphony educational program: Simply Strings and Summer Music Academy.

    With an outstanding background as a professional musician and over 15 years of teaching experience, Marina Lynn brings both her passion and her expertise to the lessons, helping you believe & achieve! She is passionate about music and enjoys sharing her passion, experience and knowledge with her students. As a member of California Music Teachers Association she prepares her students for Certificate of Merit Music Exam and encourages them to participate in piano recitals and competitions.

  • Neal Harris

    Guitar - Thurs & Fri (SAN RAFAEL)

    Teaches: Teens & Adults - Intermediate to Advanced Players

    Neal Harris is a jazz guitarist and composer who has been teaching improvisation and guitar for more than thirty-eight years. His studies with guitarists and composers (some of whom have worked with artists such as Miles Davis and Duke Ellington) along with Neal's own unique style and talent have culminated in his innovative method of teaching music and improvisation.

    His teachers/colleges attended include:
    • Berklee School of Music
    • North Texas State University (Rich Matteson)
    • Sonoma State University (Will Johnson)
    • Jerry Hahn (Jerry Hahn Brotherhood, John Handy, Gary Burton)
    • Barry Finnerty (Miles Davis, The Brecker Brothers, Hubert Laws, The Jazz Crusaders)
    • Dave Creamer (Miles Davis)
    • Davis Ramey
    • Allaudin Mathieu (Duke Ellington, Mills College, The San Francisco Conservatory of Music)
    Neal has played with:
    • Bobby Freeman
    • Pee Wee Ellis (James Brown, Van Morrison)
    • Merle Saunders
    • Jimmy Strassburg (Sly Stone, Gotham, Sawbuck)
    • Crescent (Charlie Stevens, Mark Peabody, Kevin Dillon, Rob Suddith, Neal Harris)
    • The Neal Harris Trio (some of the people involved over the years included Wilbur Krebs, Kevin Dillon, Tom Hayashi, Glen Cronchite, Steve Smith, Alan Hall)
    • And many more!

    Neal is the author of Foundations for Improvisation: A Guitarist's Guide to Improvisation, written and published in 1992. Neal continues to teach and perform jazz and original music in the San Francisco Bay Area.

  • Ralph Cetola

    Guitar - Bass - Mandolin - Ukulele - Wed, Thurs, Sat & Sund (SANTA ROSA)

    Ralph Cetola is a multi-instrumentalist, teacher and band leader, playing and studying music since he was a child. Ralph began playing guitar at 12 years old and after taking formal guitar lessons for about 3 years ventured out on his own learning from such great players as Jorma Kaukonen, Jerry Garcia, Jeff Beck and many others by listening intently to their recordings and watching them play live. Ralph attended music classes at Laney College in Oakland and SRJC in Santa Rosa. Utilizing learning methods such as Mel Bay's Modern Guitar Method and various materials from the Berklee School of Music in Boston, Ralph has successfully taught 100's of students on Guitar, Bass, Violin, Mandolin, and Ukulele since becoming a full time music instructor in spring of 2000. Ralph is well versed in Jazz Improv and Jamband music. Ralph currently play's in 2 bands as the lead and rhythm guitar player.

    Ralph was asked to begin the music lesson program at Sonoma Valley Music; has taught group classes and band class at Sonoma Charter School; was the assistant violin teacher at Woodland Star Charter School in Sonoma Valley; and has been teaching privately at home and through Banana's at Large for the past 6 years in Santa Rosa, CA.

  • Rik Elswit

    Guitar - Banjo - Mandolin - Thurs, Fri, Saturday (SAN RAFAEL)

    Genres: Fingerpicking, Flatpicking, Slide Guitar, Banjo

    Rik Elswit's first gig was at Little Pietro's Pizza Parlor, just off the USC campus, in 1965. He got free beer, a pizza, $10, and his career was set.

    Moving to San Francisco just in time to miss the Summer of Love, he went to work teaching guitar and playing almost every bar in the Bay Area. He also did studio work, playing guitar on sessions that ranged from folk guitar for Shel Silverstein to Fender-bending for the electronic duo, Beaver and Krause, with more than a few ad agency jingles thrown in to help pay the rent. Shel introduced him to Dr. Hook and the Medicine Show in 1971 and he spent the next 15 years touring the world with them, and earning eight gold records.

    Home from the road, he plays country-esque music with Gayle Lynn and the Hired Hands, jazz-esque music with Annie Z. and The Best She Could do, and writes for Acoustic Guitar Magazine.

    Rik teaches ongoing lessons in flatpicking and fingerstyle acoustic guitar, slide guitar, and banjo, and a six-week course in enhanced practice and accelerated learning.

  • Sandy Israel

    Banjo & Guitar - Tue, Sat, Sunday (SAN RAFAEL)

    Sandy has been a musician for 35 years, teaching and performing full time for 18 years. He has taught well over 4,000 thousand music lessons on banjo and guitar and is an top banjo teacher - among the best in the country. He was for many years the top banjo teacher in New York City and has created an extensive library of his own teaching materials, honed and expanded over many years. He is well versed in Rock and an expert in bluegrass banjo and guitar. Sandy has also written his own music theory textbook and a book of bluegrass fiddle tunes and variations for guitar.

    Sandy’s teaching style is clear and relaxed with a focus on practical musicianship. The lessons are 100% customized to the needs and wishes of each student and he prepares polished materials for the student’s home study – no hand-scrawled notes on a sheet of paper. Students can request to learn any song, arranged for their own level or exactly like the recording. He enjoys preparing thoroughly for each class, figuring out whole songs in detail or writing an instrumental part for a student to play. His focus is to teach students to play in a band or on their own.

    A recent arrival to the Bay Area, Sandy spent a decade as an advertising executive in Tokyo and New York, before turning to music full time. His band Citigrass played San Francisco’s famous Hardly-Strictly bluegrass festival in 2010. Citigrass CDs are available on Amazon, ITunes, Etc.

    He loves what he does and will enjoy every minute in class with you.

  • Scott Lawrence

    Piano - Wed, Sat, & Sunday (SAN RAFAEL) - - - - Monday (SANTA ROSA)

    Learn Jazz, Blues, Rock, Country, Classical.

    Adult and teen beginners are Scott's forte.

    If you already read music, Scott can help you improve your reading and sight-reading skills. Or would you like to learn your favorite tunes off of records without learning how to read? Scott has very good ears and can transcribe tunes off recordings, teach you how to do the same, and teach you solo arrangements. Do you want to learn how to read "fake" books (books with just melody lines and chord symbols)? Do you want to play country? Interested in Salsa/Cuban music? Scott can teach you all of this, and more. If you are a professional, Scott can help you hone the skills you already possess or assist you in developing new ones.

    Scott has 35 years of performing, recording, and touring experience. He has played all popular styles professionally, in small clubs, theaters, and stadiums. Some venues include Carnegie Hall and Oakland Coliseum. Scott has worked with such artists as Jesse Colin Young, Country Joe, Norton Buffalo, and Magic Slim. His credits include more than 25 albums. Scott also has a Masters Degree in Jazz Studies from North Texas State.

    Scott Lawrence currently works with Bay Area swing/dance band Stompy Jones. Stompy Jones plays in San Francisco every Tuesday night at the Verdi Club, and every Thursday at the Top Of The Mark, in the Mark Hopkins Hotel. For more information, visit www.stompyjones.com or www.myspace.com/stompyjones.

    All student levels in all styles are welcome!

  • Shaana Keller


    (415) 457-7600 x 104 or lessons@bananas.com

    Regular Office Hours :
    Monday - Friday 9am - 5pm

    f you are trying to reach me after hours during the week, please leave me a voicemail or email me directly.
    If you are trying to cancel or reschedule a lesson for a weekend appointment, you can reach me before 5pm on Friday OR contact the teacher directly to notify them.

    Messages & Emails will be returned the following work day as quickly as possible.

    Shaana is a single mother of two fantastic teenagers who keep her constantly on her toes. She is a lessons coordinator by day, but a singer-songwriter mom extraordinaire by night who is also pursuing her Business Management Degree. You can check out her website at www.shaanamarie.com
  • Susie Davis

    Piano & Voice - Saturdays (SAN RAFAEL)

    Currently Susie is Full : Please Contact Us to be placed on the Waitlist

    Genres: Teaches all musical genres
    Specialties: Sight reading, Technique, Theory, Lessons tailored to the student

    Susie's balanced approach to music education emphasizes practical skills for people interested in; accompanying themselves as they sing, writing and recording their own songs, reading chord charts, playing by ear, improvising, playing in bands, performing live, and just having fun with music.

    Piano Lessons - Beginners receive instruction in basic skills such as note reading, theory, and technique while also exploring playing by ear, improvisation and composition As technical development allows, students move to a chord based method while continuing with music fundamentals. Learning chords allows a student to play simple popular songs, and accompany themselves while singing.

    Voice Lessons - With a 32-year career as a professional singer, Susie knows how good vocal techniques can help eliminate strain, balance the voice throughout the range, and produce the richest, fullest, most natural sound possible. Lessons cover the basics of proper vocal technique; breathing and support, warm-ups, expanding range, tone-placement and articulation, and strengthening pitch accuracy. Recordings of song performances are often made as a teaching tool and for students' personal archives.

    Susie is a respected music educator, vocalist, keyboardist, songwriter, guitarist, accordionist and producer. She has been a music professional for 32 years, touring and recording with some of the top names in the music world including; Van Morrison, Prince, Sheila E., Billy Idol, Daryl Hall, Melissa Etheridge, Sinead O'Connor, Pat Benatar and Mick Jagger.
    She has also acted as Music Director for theatrical productions with Marin Academy High School, the Stapleton Theatre Company, and many local schools.

  • Tal Morris

    Guitar - Fri, Sat, & Sun (SAN RAFAEL)

    Longtime Marin resident, Tal Morris is a professional touring and session guitarist, clinician, master teacher, and music producer at Ice House Studios in San Rafael, and has been a customer of Bananas at Large since 1981!

    Tal graduated with honors from Musicians Institute in Los Angeles in 1988 studying under such masters as Scott Henderson, Joe Diorio, Robben Ford, Norman Brown, Steve Trovato, Paul Gilbert, and attended the music program at College Marin where he focused on ear training and theory. Tal also attended Blue Bear School of music in San Francisco studying under Bruce Ettleson, Bonnie Hayes, and Steve Savage.

    Tal later returned to Blue Bear years later and taught classes, workshops, and individual lessons for 10 years from late 1999 to 2010.

    Tal has toured he US and the World with many acts as a sideman and was a member of the Ronnie Montrose Band, Sons of Champlin, Huey Lewis and The News, Creedence Clearwater Revisited, and Jeff Watson and Lone Ranger to name a few.

    Tal produced guitar performance on several tracks for blues legend Tommy Castro and has played with most of Marin's music royalty such as Neal Schon, Carlos Santana, and many others.

    As a teacher, Tal focuses on the individual and that persons learning dynamic. A singer songwriter vs a budding virtuoso are taking very different roads down the diverse path of music and thus how the information is presented, coached, and refined in order to create actual tangible results, must be tailored to the individual in order to broaden their skills and confidence.

    Tal also teaches guitarists about equipment, tone, effects, and performance, as well as music theory, and stylistic approaches such as rock, blues, R&B and soul, jazz, fusion, country, and acoustic guitar technique.

    Tal is endorsed by Mesa Boogie, Dunlop, MXR, WayHuge, MONO, and B3 Guitars by Gene Baker.

  • Talc Tolchin

    Piano - Thursday, Friday, & Sat (SAN RAFAEL)

    Genres: All genres
    Specialities: All ages

    I grew up in a musical family in Brooklyn NY. My mother, played piano, and was my first teacher. My father played violin, owned a music store and ran the piano division of Universal Musical Instrument Co. He played in the Brooklyn College orchestra, and I think his main concern for me was to have me love music and be a musician. You succeeded at that dad. Sometimes a cellist would come over and I would hear chamber music played. It was just my normal environment. He took my to Carnegie Hall and listened in one of the boxed seats over the stage. That was cool. My rebellion to classical music came in my teens through the form of jazz. A close friend David Leibman (now a world renowned sax player ) took me to hear greats like John Coltrane, before I was even old enough to be allowed into the clubs.

    One of my first jobs in college was working as a busboy at the famous Village Gate. I got to hear my all time favorite pianist Bill Evans night after night. I was eventually fired for paying too much attention to the music. I’ve studied piano my whole life up to the present. One of my best teachers as a teenager was Mike Garson, who later became David Bowie’s arranger and pianist. I’ve taken classes at the Jazz School in Berkeley in salsa, gospel, theory and jazz with Frank Martin, who plays with Sting and works for the producer Narada Michael Walden here in San Rafael.

    My greatest love is song writing and recording and producing my songs. It is a different process than learning a new piece of music. It requires using intuition and going into the unknown and giving form to something that hasn’t been before. I do rely on patterns and chords that are encoded in my hands and brain, and then I just try to come up with the right notes and chords at the right time.

    I have been teaching piano for over 40 years. I’ve always tried to let students choose the music they want to learn, when ever possible. It helps them to be more motivated. Of course it requires me to learn it first and I’ve learned many hundreds of tunes. I started teaching at Bananas at Large at the beginning of this year. I love working here. One of the most unique aspects of my teaching method is that I offer students the opportunity to choose their own material whenever possible. This requires me to learn their songs and tailor the lessons to each individual. I have a good ear, and know the theory that supports that skill. Students are therefore more highly motivated to learn new material. I'm always changing with the times and it keeps me fresh and current. It is usually the keyboardist in a band who needs to figure out tunes and write out the charts, and it's a skill I pass on to students. Once someone has the ability to hear and figure out chords, melodies, rhythms, all the recorded music out there is a source for learning and inspiration.

    I also work with synth technique, multi-track recording, sequencing, and drum programming. I love jazz and improvisation is key to that art form. My other love is song writing, which I encourage once the skills are there. Going into the unknown and creating something is a skill that can be developed.

    I am not the only teacher out there doing all this. But for me, the personal connection and communication is primary.

  • Teal Collins

    Ukulele - Voice - Beginning Guitar - Mon & Tue (SAN RAFAEL)

    My method focuses on creating scale-based vocal exercises that are tailored to your range - after we focus on the technical aspect of singing, we can work on songs together that you love, and even record them using your own voice to stack harmonies, and you can learn about the recording process.

    All levels welcome! I hope to give you great techniques that will help you sing the way you want to as well as strengthening the voice, your confidence, develop strength in the range you already possess while bringing out the natural sound of your voice!

    Whether you are a beginner and are looking for some tips on becoming comfortable with your voice, have studied with other teachers and still have unresolved issues with your voice, or if you are performing every night and need techniques to improve stamina / endurance, even if your voice is fine and you just want to develop your range, acquire better tone or control, this method will help you be the singer you know you can be!

    Develop GREAT habits that strengthen and inspire!!! It is fun and energizing to connect with your voice- it is your own unique sound, and music feeds the spirit!

    Teal’s Bio: Teal has recorded 5 albums with her original band The Mother Truckers, and has toured the US and Europe extensively for the last 15 years with The Mother Truckers and also The Whiskey Sisters. She has taught voice for 6 years. Teal has recorded sessions for Grammy award winning producers Narada Michael Walden (Whitney Houston) and Stephen Bray (Madonna). Teal has also received Gold and Platinum albums for her work on Shanice (Motown records) and Third Eye Blind's album Blue.

  • Tim Cleary

    Guitar - Saturdays (SAN RAFAEL)

    "Without music, life would be a mistake."
    ~Friedrich Nietzsche

    Embodying that philosophy, Tim Cleary started playing guitar, saxophone, harmonica, and singing in his preteens and is still playing 45 years later. Tim’s extensive experience as a musician has encompassed a wide array of styles including classical, folk, rock, blues, pop, and jazz.

    Individual lesson plans are created for each of Tim's students in order to fulfill their particular wants and needs. Tim is very comfortable and skilled at working with both children and adults and has been very successful in working with adults who are either beginners attending to an unfulfilled passion or who are returning to music after leaving it (perhaps after being turned off by earlier experiences). Tim has a relaxed, easygoing teaching style that will ensure that you have fun, while his ongoing study of the cutting edge of practice techniques, and brain plasticity, will ensure maximal results from your lessons and practice time.

    Tim’s extensive playing experience includes playing at many festivals, events, and venues either solo or with other jazz musicians. He has also performed in the highly regarded group Afro-musicology presenting educational programs for local schools demonstrating the African influence on American music and dance. Tim’s several appearances at the Montreux/Detroit jazz festival were a particular career highlight.

    Tim graduated with Honors from The Musicians Institute (GIT) in 1993. He studied music theory, arranging, composition and improvisation with the esteemed Dr. Morris Lawrence, Jr. in Ypsilanti, Michigan. Tim has also studied privately or attended master classes with many notable musicians including: Jim Hall, Mimi Fox, Mick Goodrick, Mark Levine, Kai Eckhardt, and John Stowell. Tim has been performing and teaching in the Bay area since 1994.

  • Tommy Rickard

    Drums - Mon, Tue, Wed, & Thurs (SANTA ROSA)

    Tommy Rickard is a musician born and raised in Northern California. He is a singer/songwriter, drummer and guitarist, currently rooted in both San Francisco and Los Angeles. He started playing drums young and spent his early days in local punk bands, opening shows for the likes of Black Flag, Dead Kennedys, Sea Hags, Victim’s Family and Agent Or-ange. A restless search for new challenges, combined with a knack for playing just what songs need, eventually landed Rickard on the road and in the studio with Vain, Linda Perry, Eric Martin, Ronnie Montrose, Brian Jonestown Massacre, and many others, as well as a long list of independent singers, songwriters and producers. All the while he kept at his studies with Bay Area teaching legend, Chuck Brown. While working with Perry, Tommy recorded her Grammy winning song “Beautiful,”which became a #1 single for Christina Aguilera. In 2010 he completed a successful tour of Europe with his bandmates from Vain. As well as playing on the critically acclaimed, 2011 Vain release, Enough Rope. In 2010, and 2012, Tommy also toured the US with former Stone Temple Pilots frontman, Scott Weiland. Most recently Tommy is working on recordings for a new album. Here’s a link to his previous release, “Dream California.” He just finished tracking drums for Todd Herfindal’s upcoming album. He is also co producing, and co directing The Hard Road; a documentary style TV show that is focused on musicians and artists, and their lives journey’s, in pursuit of their creative passions. Tommy Rickard approaches teaching in a fun, creative, and inspiring yet disciplined way. Creating a lesson plan that engages students with their favorite songs, introducing Motown grooves and instilling a solid foundation including snare solos written for drum corps. Each lesson plan is uniquely crafted for the student’s individual personality, talent and desires. Studying extensively with the legendary Chuck Brown, and Mike Johnston, Tommy has leveraged years of experience and learnings in his approach to teaching.
  • Vernon Black

    Bio coming soon
  • Vince Littleton

    Drums Wed & Thurs (SAN RAFAEL)

    Teaches: children over 9yo, Teens, Adults

    Vince Littleton has been teaching drum lessons in the San Francisco Bay Area for nearly 15 years. Some of Vince's students now have active careers in music; others learned just for the fun of playing the drums. Besides teaching privately, Vince has worked with drum and bugle corps, middle school, high school and college marching percussion, symphonic percussion, and percussion ensembles. Vince is a methodical and patient instructor who enjoys working with people of all ages, at all playing levels. He combines his own methods with those he learned from the great instructors he has had since childhood. Vince still continues to learn about the vast world of music and percussion, and enjoys sharing this knowledge with his students. Vince currently plays drums professionally doing freelance work, as well as as a studio musician, and with the band Super Diamond.

    Visit Vince's website, www.vincemusic.com, for more information.