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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.

  • Angeline Saris

    Electric Bass - Wed (SAN RAFAEL)

    Genres: Teaches All Music Genres

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    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 & Saturday (SAN RAFAEL)

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

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    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

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    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.

  • Cherie Lebow

    Cherie is a seasoned Bay Area performer. Originally raised in Manhattan, she grew up in Greenwich Village where the vibrant art and music scene inspired her to begin playing guitar and piano at age ten. As a teen and young adult she focused on guitar and songwriting and after completing her studies at Berklee College of Music, finally made her way to San Francisco where her career took off.

    She is known for her sultry mix of jazz, rock and blues styles with a strong, soulful energy that gives her a unique, recognizable sound. As a band leader she has founded several Bay Area bands including Bond Girl - A James Bond rock band, Blue Light Boogie - a jazz duo and The Cherie Lebow Band - original material. Additionally, she has played in various Bay Area bands, including The Minks, an all-girl Kinks tribute band.

    Cherie has been teaching guitar and voice lessons in the Bay Area for the past 20 years. Originally trained at the Berklee School of Music in Boston, she offers a supportive, fun, professional music education for students of all levels and ages. She previously taught at The Blue Bear School of Music in San Francisco and now is happy to be offering her services at Bananas in San Rafael.

    She is a great match for beginners as well as advanced musicians. With more than 500 students throughout her career, she offers a wide range of teaching techniques and a creative teaching spirit to ensure great outcomes for students.

    If you’re a singer Cherie can help you...
    • understand your range and how to alter a song to suit your voice
    • improve your pitch with ear training and vocal exercises
    • improve your tone with exercises and songs that target key areas in your voice
    • learn to use vocal arranging to improve performance and comfort
    • find your style and learn how to make a song your own
      Book a 30min Voice Lesson
      Book a 1 hour Voice Lesson

    If you’re a guitarist or songwriter Cherie can help you...
    • grow your knowledge of chords & harmony
    • read music & tablature
    • perform a song in your best key using chords that suit your level
    • grow your knowledge of soloing & improvisation
    • sculpt a song to make it exciting and performable
    • workshop your original songs and prepare them for performance and recording
      Book a 30min Guitar Lesson
      Book a 1 hour Guitar Lesson

    Guitar Genres: folk, rock, jazz, blues and classical
    Voice Genres: folk, rock, jazz, blues
  • Cole Tate

    Ukulele & Guitar - Mondays (SAN RAFAEL)

    Genres: Blues, Rock, Folk and Pop

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    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

    Find 30 min Lesson

    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

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    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

  • Jennifer Wilsey

    Drums & Piano
    Thurs, Fri, and Sat (SANTA ROSA)

    Jennifer Wilsey—percussionist, improviser, composer, and educator—is a co-founding member of improvising ensembles Timeless Pulse (with Pauline Oliveros, Thomas Buckner, and George Marsh), The Bloom (with W. Allaudin Mathieu and George Marsh), and Gestaltish (with Rachel Condry, Gretchen Jude, and Jacob Peck). Jennifer’s projects have also included work with The Good Sound Band, Wrestling Worms, The Luna Ensemble, Petr Kotik and the SEM Ensemble, Stuart Dempster, Bernie Krause, and Anna Halprin, among others. Her recordings can be heard on the Deep Listening, Mutable, Cold Mountain Music, Public Eyesore Records, and Pitch-A-Tent labels. She received her BA in Music from UC Santa Cruz and MFA in Performance and Literature with Improvisation Specialization from Mills College (with the Margaret Lyon Prize), and is a Deep Listening Certificate holder. As an educator, Jennifer directs the Musicianship Program at Mills College, teaches percussion, percussion pedagogy, and directs the Percussion and Improvisation Ensemble at Sonoma State University, and teaches in the Deep Listening Online Certificate Training Program at Rensselaer. She offers workshops in Improvisation, Music Games, and Deep Listening, and individual lessons via her creative music studio in Santa Rosa and Oakland, California.
  • 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

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    John offers a Buy3Get1 Free Promo for New students - Click Here to Purchase the Promo pack!

    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

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    Please contact us if you are interested in taking acoustic guitar with Josh. We are happy to help schedule it for you.

    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 is available in San Rafael on Sundays, Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays.

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    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.

  • Michael Papenburg

    Instruments: Electric & Acoustic Guitar, Slide Guitar, Lap Steel, Dobro, and Ukelele

    Michael Papenburg is a Bay Area native with over 35 years of teaching and

    performing experience. He has performed and recorded with many local artists

    including The Jerry Hannan Band, Matadore, Matt Nathanson, Brittany Shane,

    Orange, Penelope Houston, Lilyvolt, The Mad Cattle Ensemble, and Missile Harmony.

    He currently plays lead guitar for Petty Theft, a tribute to Tom Petty and the


    Michael specializes in rock, alternative, slide guitar, blues, funk, country, and folk.

    His influences include Jimmy Page, David Gilmour, Jeff Beck, Bill Frisell, Robin

    Guthrie, Daniel Ash, Mike Campbell, and many others.

    He is a very patient teacher with students ranging from beginning to advanced

    players. His teaching has a focus on playing technique, chords, scales, music theory,

    musicianship, and transcriptions of songs and solos in either tablature or standard


  • Michael Price

    30 min Guitar or Bass Lesson
    1 hour Guitar or Bass Lesson
    30 min Piano Lesson
    1 hour Piano Lesson

    BUY3GET1FREE Promo Offer
    Buy a pack of 4 lesson with Michael, and pay for only 3! Good for NEW Enrolling Student only! After purchase, you can schedule your lessons through the student portal.

    Current performance projects as leader or sideman include Lulu & The Rent Party, Fantastic Fourth Street Quartet, Surfer Roma, Lonestar Retrobates, The American Alley Cats, and The New Moldy Figs. Various other groups, theater shows, school affiliations, and pickup bands round out a typical monthly schedule. Michael was especially honored to be the bassist for Dan Hicks & The Hot Licks 2012-2016.

    Musical parents – his mother a piano teacher and his father a blues/rock guitarist – gave Michael an early inspiration to create music and a wide exposure to musical styles. His musical path became a full time occupation when he formed a band with his friends in the fledgling Sonoma County “Jam Band” scene circa 1990-94.

    He went on to study Jazz and Classical music at Santa Rosa Junior College, Cabrillo College, UC Santa Cruz, Ali Akbar College of Music, and San Jose State University, acquiring various certificates and degrees along the way. But his primary education came from learning on the job in the various Jazz bands, show bands, dance bands, symphonic orchestras, pit orchestras, jam sessions, and of course from the recordings and performances of the masters who came before.

    Michael began teaching guitar around 1995, and immediately recognized that it was a valuable gift to be able to help aspiring musicians learn and grow. He has taught piano and guitar as a primary occupation (along with performing) for more than 10 years in Marin County, solid references on request.

    Michael’s approach to teaching music is generally focused on fundamentals, proper technique, and fluency in the language of music. A wide variety of materials and repertoire can be used, and older or more advanced students are encouraged to bring pieces that they are interested in. Improvisation, Jazz/Rock/Pop theory, traditional Western music theory, and musical etiquette are topics that come up if there is interest or demonstrated need.

  • Neal Harris

    Guitar - Thurs & Fri (SAN RAFAEL)

    Teaches: Teens & Adults - Intermediate to Advanced Players

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    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)

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    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

    Find 30 min Guitar Lesson - - - Find 1 Hour Guitar Lesson

    Find 30 min Banjo Lesson - - - Find 1 Hour Banjo Lesson

    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.

  • Sam Smetana

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    Sam Smetana is a musician who grew up in Clancy, Montana playing classical guitar before spending his teenage years touring in a rock band with some of his best friends.

    That band (Goodnight Sunrise/The Goodnight) signed a record deal in Japan, got songs played on MTV & VH1, and had a handful of endorsement deals (Taylor, Elixir, Rocket Clothing, Glamour Kills, etc.).

    He and the band eventually moved to LA where Sam did some work as a freelance musician before accepting an opportunity to study music at UC Berkeley.

    Between Montana, LA, and the Bay Area, Sam has played in jazz, folk, indie, and rock groups, and currently keeps himself occupied teaching, writing songs, and collaborating.

    See more about Sam here
  • Sandy Israel

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

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    Find 30 min Banjo - - - Find 1 Hour Banjo

    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.

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    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
  • Talc Tolchin

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

    Talc will be unavailable from August 4th through October 6th, as he will be out of the country. If you would like to schedule lesson after he returns, please send an email to: lessons@bananas.com

    Genres: All genres
    Specialities: All ages

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    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)

    Use the links below to search availability in Teal's schedule.

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    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.

  • Teresa Topaz

    Bio coming soon
  • 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)

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    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

    Meet Vernon Black

    An accomplished guitarist and vocalist, Vernon Ice Black has spent the past 30 plus years touring, recording and or performing with music legends like;

    Herbie Hancock, Stevie Wonder, Mariah Carey, Celine Dion, Whitney Houston, Aretha Franklin, Chakka Kahn, Maze, Carl Perkins, Willie Nelson, Busta Rhymes, Nate Dogg, Lionel Richie, … (to name a few).

    Vernon's work can be heard in films like “The Bodyguard,” “License to Kill,” and “Beverly Hills Cop II”. In advertising jingles for Jaguar, Chevrolet, Toyota, Nissan, Mattel, Levi’s. And in songs and sound effects on video games for Sony Play Station, Nintendo, Sega and EA Sports. And at the Jimi Hendrix Festival at Bumbershoot Stadium in Seattle Washington he was the co-music director and opened the show with the legendary "Experience" (Jimi's Hendrix’s original band) - Mitch Mitchell (drums), Noel Redding (bass).

    Vernon is also a producer, composer and music director. Credits include; Regina Belle (composer), Phillip Bailey (composer),

    Booker T Jones (music director), Spice Girls (music director), the Family Stone (music director), Lenny Williams (composer, producer). And his 1st solo album, “Sneak Previews” (composer, producer). Guest artists including; Herbie Hancock, Steve Smith, Tom Coster, Phillip Bailey. And for multiple artists on his “Ice Black Productions” production company / independent record label.

    Also an innovator of musical instrument design, Vernon designs his own electric guitars. He is the co-designer of the MP2 digital guitar preamp, which won the award for best guitar processor of 1993. He also received an award from the DVD Association for co-designing DVD on CD (multi layered enhanced cd) in 2000.

    In 2004, Vernon took a break from the "guitarist for hire" market to create a situation that would allow him to pursue and develop his own producing and writing career as well as being a solo artist. Equally so, he was motivated to create a place that gave artists a more fair and friendly (artist based business) environment. This led to the creation of his production company / independent record label "Ice Black Productions."


    Vernon's Method Is:

    Self Expression, Individuality, Improvisation, Music Theory, Composition, Heart & Soul

    Also teaches Vocals & Bass.

    He teaches many styles of music. Specialties are - jazz, rock, funk, r&b, pop, blues, reggae, latin, country, … … …

    He also consults in tone & equipment selection.

    He teaches beginners, intermediates and advanced students.

    If you are interested in receiving lessons, contact

    Carrie Black

    415 686 1052 (ph)


    Or visit -


  • Vince Littleton

    Drums Wed & Thurs (SAN RAFAEL)

    Teaches: children over 9yo, Teens, Adults

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    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.