Discover the Best Music Classes in Los Angeles
To define music feels like an impossible task. How can a single word be used to encompass such diverse genres and approaches as ear-worm pop music as well as the wall of sound that is dissonant death metal?
Attempts to resolve such diverse styles typically resolve on music as an idea of “organized sound,” considering music to be an artform that consciously works with rhythm, melody, harmony, and other emotionally evocative sounds into a purposeful aesthetic arrangement.
Learning music involves attention to both theory and to technical skill. Music theory covers the fundamental principles governing how sounds relate to one another. This relationship can be defined temporally, as is the case when talking about rhythm, or defined aurally, as when considering similarities between sounds in harmonies, melodies, or dissonance. When it comes to technical skill, learning music involves learning how to manipulate an instrument to make particular sounds. While music classes typically blend the theoretical and the technical, expect the focus to skew a bit more heavily towards one side of the equation. While you can expect to learn the fundamental principles of music theory while taking a piano class, for example, the lessons will naturally focus more heavily on learning how to play the instrument.
Why You Should Learn Music in Los Angeles
Lost Angeles has been a hotbed for music movements since at least the 1960s when the “sound of California” emerged from legendary performers like The Byrds, The Doors, The Beach Boys, and Frank Zappa. In fact, the Beach Boys formed in Hawthorne, a suburb of Los Angeles where most of the members grew up. And while Zappa was originally from the East Coast, his breakout album, 1966s Freak Out!, famously reflects the “freak” subcultures of LA’s underground music scene in the 1960s.
While the sound of California has certainly changed since the 60s, Los Angeles remains a popular spot for musicians of a new generation. The thriving Los Angeles club scene makes the area a place where many aspiring DJs cut their teeth, and many teaching resources exist to train new performers in this contemporary form of music production.
While some may opt to tap into Los Angeles’ storied music community for commercial reasons, others may instead pursue music for reasons related to personal fulfillment. Engaging with music offers a great outlet for creative self-expression and leisure, tapping into the sense of personal satisfaction that accompanies mastery of a skill, and especially an artistic endeavor. Research coming out of major institutions like Harvard and the University of Pennsylvania supports the idea that music, and especially playing an instrument, can have a strong positive influence on cognitive satisfaction by engaging multiple parts of the brain simultaneously.
In-Person Music Classes in Los Angeles
In the Los Angeles area, local colleges with community-centric programs are a great resource for music classes, with multiple colleges offering lessons in common instruments.
East Los Angeles College, which fosters an outreach program of community-centered access and participation, offers group piano classes at a variety of skill levels, including Group Piano Level 1, Level 2, and Level 3.These classes offer a way to learn how to play piano in a positive, motivating group environment. While working within a group setting, students will also have opportunities for individual instructions, and to play and progress at their own pace. These classes operate from a book, the Michael Aaron Piano Course Lessons: Primer, which students will need to purchase from Amazon or a local music store.
For those interested in string instruments, East Los Angeles College also offers a similar series of violin classes for learners of all levels in Violin I, II, III, and IV. These classes emphasize ensemble performance and polishing technique. Each student is asked to please come with her own violin.
Over on the coast, Santa Monica College offers a program of low-cost, noncredit community education courses. The goal of the program is to provide members of the Santa Monica community with workshops and classes in art, writing, music, and many other areas not typically associated with an academic education.
As part of this community education program, Santa Monica College hosts multiple guitar workshops. Beginning Guitar offers a foundation for complete beginners, providing a basic overview of music theory and teaching how to read music and play some of the open chords that are commonly found in guitar music. Guitarists with some basic guitar skills may find Guitar II to be a more appropriate option. This class expects proficiency in the foundational skills of reading music a basic chords covered in the beginner class, and builds upon those skills to help students reach increased proficiency in guitar playing technique. In each of these classes, students are expected to bring their own guitars (either acoustic or electric), and to purchase the Hal Leanord Guitar Method, Second Edition.
Aspiring vocalists can train their vocal technique in Contemporary Singing Techniques, a crash course in the fundamentals of contemporary singing. The class operates following a “vocal yoga” method, which blends principles from musical schools of thought including the Bel Canto school of Singing, the Alexander Technique, and Yoga. Fundamental topics covered include breathing techniques, intonation, vocal range, and overcoming performance anxiety.
Mt. San Antonio College is dedicated to a program of community and personal enrichment whereby local members of the community can enroll in fee-based classes. Among the offerings open to community members are a series of group music classes including Introduction to Violin and Group Violin.
Originally established in New York by Jam Master Jay, the DJ of legendary East Coast hip hop group Run DMC, Scratch DJ Academy was founded with the mission of lowing the barrier of entry into the arts of DJing and music production. While initially a New York organization, Scratch has since grown into a national organization with sites in Los Angeles to spread DJ skills beyond just the East Coast.
The Intro to DJing (DJ 101) course is the perfect option for a beginner DJ who wants to hit the ground running. By covering basic DJ techniques as well as some core skills for mixing and blending live, this crash course is an effective way to build competence in live performances. To emphasize the importance of live performance, the course is capped with each student performing a 15-minute set in front of classmates, showcasing in real time their newly developed skills. They also offer an Accelerated Intro to DJ Course, which combines the introductory material covered in the DJ 101 course with additional intermediate mixing techniques. Both of these introductory courses operate over the course of six weeks, meeting two times a week.
Scratch DJ Academy also offers an intensive DJ Certification program for those looking to start a career as a DJ and can devote significant attention to the art. This crash course in DJing, which meets over the course of roughly a year, consists of eight classes devoted to mixing, production, performance, and business that prepare students with the necessary foundation to start working in the industry.
Virtual Music Classes
In addition to a vast selection of local music classes, CourseHorse offers an impressive range of online music classes available to anybody with an internet connection. Whether the offerings in your local community don’t match your exact interests or you need additional flexibility in scheduling, these virtual classes are a great way to get hands-on experience with a professional instructor without the need to commute to the studio.
By opting for an online class, you are securing all of the core benefits of in-person instruction. An instructor will be working with you in real time, demonstrating techniques for you to follow, responding to your own technique as you play, and providing feedback and technical advice as you go. Moreover, online classes provide you with more access to niche subjects that may not be available in your local scene, and instructors are typically willing to provide flexible scheduling to find a time that best accommodates your busy schedule.
Be advised that an online class does require some extra attention to your personal equipment and playing space. While high quality speakers and microphones are not essential - even basic equipment is functional - the sound quality of a session will depend on your equipment, and cannot hope to match the acoustics of being in the same room as your instructor. While the notes will still be recognizable, the discrepancy in quality may prove frustrating to those particularly sensitive to such matters.
Los Angeles’ own Songwriting School of Los Angeles, a prestigious institution whose instructors include Grammy-winning and Grammy-nominated songwriters, ASCAP and BMI Song of the Year Award winners, and film and tv composers, offers classes with it’s expert faculty in an online format to ensure increased access to the incredible resources it has to offer. The Songwriting School offers specialized courses on specific topics and genres that rotate throughout the year, with their newest upcoming class tapping into the East Coast spirit of Broadway in How to Write for Musical Theater. This class covers everything needed to write music for a theatrical production, including strategies for developing and expressing character through song, advancing the plot through song, placing a song within the overall structure of the performance, and also techniques for revision and rewriting.
Other organizations with online offerings to supplement in-person classes include Scratch DJ Academy, a New York school founded in 2002 by Run DMC’s Jam Master Jay, which has offices in Los Angeles. In addition to their in-person offerings listed above, Scratch offers private online 1-on-1 DJ Lessons that can be tailored specifically to your personal needs and equipment setup.
Private Group Music Classes in Los Angeles
When people talk about “rock star” employees, they’re usually not referring to the debaucherous lifestyles and onstage antics that we typically associate with a “rock and roll” lifestyle. Instead, they’re referring to individuals who perform with a high degree of energy and, more importantly, make significant contributions to the success of the group or band. There is some truth in this statement; there really isn’t a bonding experience quite like playing in a band together. If you’re looking to make your “rock star” status a bit more literal, a virtual jam session can be a great way for a team to unwind and collaborate, strengthening inter-group bonds through shared music creation. To start a band for some group bonding, CourseHorse offers music classes for private groups.
While CourseHorse doesn’t currently have any public listings for virtual jam sessions, they can work with you on an individual basis to organize a customized musical event. You can reach out to CourseHorse to learn about the options they can provide, and they’ll get to work scheduling the perfect event for your group.
If you’ve got a team of music lovers who don’t necessarily all play instruments, music can still be the centerpiece of a team social event. Let your team flex their music knowledge with a Music Trivia night, or have a bit of Christmas in July with Holiday Music Karaoke Trivia.
Whether you’re scheduling a custom course or pursuing public listings, CourseHorse makes it easy to book an online group course with a streamlined checkout process and options to tailor your event to your specific needs. It’s also easy to change your booking details after the fact; CourseHorse will hold your date as soon as your event is confirmed, and allows you to change your group size if anything changes leading up to the class. You can be flexible and add or remove people from your group, and CourseHorse won’t finalize payment details until you have a truly definitive headcount.