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From an early age, music plays a vital role in a child’s development. Whether it’s a classic nursery rhyme or a modern day music app, children of all ages benefit greatly from the gift of music in areas like cognitive learning and language development. For parents interested nurturing their children further by learning to play a musical instrument, there are many top-rated music schools throughout the Bay Area to consider. The following are just five of the very best music classes for kids in the Bay Area.

Blue Bear Music
Fort Mason Center
2 Marina Blvd., Bldg. D
San Francisco, CA  94123
(415) 673-3600

Winner of multiple Best of the Bay awards, including best music school in the city, Blue Bear Music is San Francisco’s original school of rock and roll. Established in 1971, the non-profit located at Fort Mason Center has instructed more than 30,000 students and currently instructs 850 students every quarter. Blue Bear offers several music classes in a number of age categories, including toddlers, middle school age and older teens. With a talented and well educated staff of more than 30 music teachers, students can receive expert music instruction in voice and a number of instruments such as piano, drums, acoustic and electric guitar, trumpet, saxophone and violin. Blue Bear also offers private instruction, as well as popular workshops like Rock and Blues, programs like All Star Bands and summer camps. Over the years, the award-winning music school has had a number of celebrity sponsors, including the Bay Area’s own Doobie Brothers, Green Day, Metallica, Les Claypool and Carlos Santana.

Myriad Music School and Dance Academy
2250 Palm Ave.
San Mateo, CA  94403
(650) 574-2844

Myriad Music School and Dance Academy is easily one of the best music and dance schools in the entire San Francisco Peninsula. Founded in 1997 by Simone Bley and Keith Johns, the award-winning music school offers private lessons and group classes for children in five specified age groups from 3 years old to 11 and older. Among the music classes offered by Myriad Music School are Piano Teams, String Ensembles, Guitar Teams and Kids’ Chorus and Glee Singers. Last year, Myriad Music School was named the gold medal winner for Best Classes for Musical Instrument Instruction in San Mateo County by respected local publication Best of Parents Press.

New Mozart School
305 N. California Ave.
Palo Alto, CA  94301
(650) 324-2373

With an active enrollment of more than 500 students, the New Mozart School of Music is the largest music school in Palo Alto. Founded in 1989 by longtime music educator Christine Shin, New Mozart offers private lessons and group classes in three age groups, including the popular Harmony Road program for children ages 3-7. The school has a music faculty of more than 30 gifted music teachers, offering instruction in piano, stringed instruments like violin and electric guitar, flute and saxophone. A past winner of the Best of Silicon Valley by the local Metro Newspaper, Mozart School of Music has two convenient locations in Palo Alto. Due to the popularity of the classes offered, early advance registration is recommended.

San Francisco Community Music Center
544 Capp St.
San Francisco, CA  94110
(415) 647-6015

The San Francisco Community Music Center (CMC) is one of the oldest and largest community arts organizations on the West Coast. Founded in 1921, the community center serves more than 2,400 students annually, from toddlers to high school level. The CMC offers affordable course instruction on more than 30 different musical instruments, in addition to other courses like music theory and voice. Celebrating its 95th anniversary this year, the CDC has more than 120 talented instructors in its faculty. Each year, the CDC hosts more than 300 performances at its Capp Street concert hall, as well as other locations across the Bay Area. In addition to the Mission District main facility, the San Francisco Community Music Center has a second branch in the Richmond District.

The Music Place
1617 Willowhurst Ave.
San Jose, CA  95125
(408) 445-2787

With multiple South Bay locations, the Music Place offers music and dance classes for children of all ages. Led by founding directors Mike and Janice Morris, The Music Place has served nearly 10,000 students since its inception in 1984. Both group and private lessons are offered for children as young as 12 months, but instrument survey and prep courses are for students 6 years old or older. The Music Place has more than 40 well respected teachers on its staff, offering instruction with stringed instruments like guitar and violin, woodwind instruments like saxophone and clarinet, percussion and keyboards. Other services include free student assessments, tuition assistance and student placement.

Randy Yagi is an award-winning freelance writer covering all things San Francisco. In 2012, he received a Media Fellowship from Stanford University. His work can be found on Examiner.com