Does your little rocker prefer the Rolling Stones to Raffi? Is the clarinet just not cool enough? Don’t even bother bugging them about marching band and sign them up for one the the Bay’s rock band programs instead. There are plenty of local options where kids can amp it up and rock out in style—not to mention learn an instrument, gain confidence performing in front of a crowd, and master their head banging skills. Still looking for fun activities to fill the coming summer months? All of the following offer summer camps as well, and enrollment is already underway.

rockbandland_2015Photo credit: Rock Band Land

For 22 years, BandWorks has been offering kids aged 8-18 the chance to rock out to their favorite cover songs.  Your rocker is placed by age, experience and musical preference into a band that’s just right for them. During the 2-hour practice sessions, kids get to build their band, play together as a group and trouble shoot the pit falls of performance. BandWorks welcomes all experience levels and while they don’t offer individual instruction, kids are guided by a professional musician-instructor every step of the way in a fully equipped music studio, giving them the confidence to perform live at a local concert venue at the end of the 8 week session.

623 – 3rd St.
Oakland, Ca

150 Mitchell Blvd.
San Rafael, Ca


rockbandland1Photo credit: Rock band Land

Rock Band Land
This program takes wannabee rockers as young as 4 and lets them experiment with rock instruments and even record a track. For the 5-9 year old, the creative collaboration amps up into 2-hour practice sessions after school where kids get to work on a story idea, develop musical themes and then put it all together into an original rock song. The end result is more of a rock ‘n’ roll orchestra with anywhere between 13-16 kids performing in front of their fans at the Mission’s Verdi Club within just 6 weeks. The Encore? Rock Band Land has a new HQ on 17th and Folsom with a Rock Out room and Laser Lounge.

3075 17th St.
San Francisco, Ca

school of rock

Photo credit: School of Rock

School of Rock
Kids at School of Rock get weekly private instruction in either keyboard, vocals, guitar, bass or drums. Come the weekend they bring what they have learned to a 2/3 hour band rehearsal. The sessions are open to kids of all ages who are then put into bands according to their experience. When they’re ready to perform, they start learning harmonies, musicianship and the nuts and bolts of a rock show environment. The shows happen every 12 weeks and center on a theme, such as an artist, style and period of rock music. At the end of the session 15-20 kids perform in a revolving cast live on the main stage at the school.

711 South B. St.
San Mateo, Ca

5035 Almaden Expwy.
San Jose, Ca

2645 Middlefield Rd.
Palo Alto, Ca


school of rock

Photo credit: School of Rock

Bird School of Music
At Bird, individual music instruction supports the band program. While bands can come ready formed, the music teachers are pros at tapping into the personalities of the kids and placing them into bands according to age, ability and musical taste. Band size is usually 3-5 kids and they meet once a week for rehearsals. The 9-week session is followed by a Tech Week where kids get 3 nights of mock performances. This prepares them for their on-stage moment at the end of the session. Tech Week is designed to build community and encourages healthy competition ahead of their live performance. Bird embraces all instruments and the band program is open to kids from 7 years and up.

1924 Polk St.
San Francisco, Ca

11411017045_3b95e92e96Photo credit: Bay Area Girls’ Rock Camp via Flickr

Bay Area Girls’ Rock Camp
This one-of-a-kind, girls-only program offers 10 weeks of group instruction and band practice for girls aged 8-18 years.  Students get an hour-long group lesson on either the guitar, keyboard, bass, drums or vocals followed by an hour and a half of band rehearsal. Students focus on writing and performing their own original music and get to perform live at the end of the session. No previous musical experience is required and kids are grouped according to age and ability.

610 16th St.
Oakland, Ca

Photo credit: School of Rock

San Francisco Rock Project
This non-profit music school offers kids aged 7- 17 a chance to learn an instrument, collaborate with their peers and rock out. There are programs to accommodate any level of experience. Kids age 8-11 generally meet once a week for 45 minutes of private instruction in guitar, bass, drums, keyboard or vocals. They also get a group rehearsal to prepare them for live performances at local music venues, festivals and special events. The kids are all working on the same material and with 10 to 15 band members in a group, there’s enough flexibility to rotate kids out of rehearsal for lesson time if they need it.

375 1st St.
San Francisco, Ca

Do you have a favorite rock school you want to tell us about? Let us know in the comments below.

—Emily Myers