Since 1989, San Francisco Performances has taken a different, more intimate approach to arts education in the schools. In small, hands-on programs, our resident artists—guitarists Beijing Guitar Duo, jazz pianist Vijay Iyer, tenor Nicholas Phan and the Alexander String Quartet—work directly with students and teachers in public schools around the Bay Area.

Story of the String Quartet

This seminar brings the Alexander String Quartet and other apprentice ensembles into high school classrooms for multiple visits of musical dialogues that introduce motivated English and History students to chamber music. Through performance and discussion, the quartet demonstrates how the evolution of the string quartet reflects Western socio-political ideas and events from the 18th to the 21st centuries.

Music and Culture

The diversity of American culture and society is truly reflected in America's native music, and VIjay Iyer connects the traditions and history of the genre with new American influences, including spoken word, hip-hop, and world music. Elementary, middle and high school music students learn to identify, perform and create elements of musical language true to their own cultures and time.

Performance Poetry

In collaboration with high school English teachers, Nicholas Phan provides many points of entry into the study and composition of poetry and song. During these informative and interactive workshops students read, analyze, discuss and listen to early English Renaissance and Folk poems as sung by Mr. Phan.

Guitar Trek

Developed to highlight Guitarists-in-Residence the Beijing Guitar Duo’s in-school performances, this program presents a history-based curriculum that traces the evolution of the guitar from ancient times to the present. With a wide-ranging guitar repertoire at their disposal, the Beijing Guitar Duo introduce world history students to the diversity of cultures whose musical heritage embraced this most versatile of instruments.

Music Mentors

Graduate students and young professional instrumentalists provide weekly coaching to music students. Through the Mentors program, middle and high school students improve their technique, concentration, and level of performance. The Mentors learn and apply techniques for successful outreach with students of all backgrounds, and are coached, in turn, by SF Performances’ Artists-in-Residence.

Professional Development

In collaboration with other community partners, SF Performances develops workshops linked to major performances, sparking new ideas about how teachers and students can experience the performing arts in the classroom and on stage. Workshops provide cross-disciplinary forums for discussion and interaction with artists and their art. Tickets to related performances are offered especially to teachers at a significant discount.