Calling all musicians! Want to play at BCC? Well, you can’t. Berkeley City College lacks a music practice program. The school offers numerous creative art classes, such as visual arts, multimedia, and creative writing; yet, aside from music appreciation classes, a musician’s stream of resources runs dry on this campus.
Simply put, the school lacks acoustic facilities, faculty, and equipment such as stands, chairs, and books—all of which would require tens of thousands of dollars to acquire. According to the East Bay Express, “The Peralta Community College District is facing a $7.3 million shortfall in its tentative 2018-2019 budget,” and in light of these budget shortages, it doesn’t seem likely that the school will soon implement a more comprehensive music program.
Laney and Merritt have strong programs, including a diverse range of classes and great equipment that BCC musicians can turn to. And if you’re willing, their program offers students many benefits and opportunities for growth. Yet, traveling all the way to these campuses can become problematic. Round trips on BART twice a week from Downtown Berkeley to Lake Merritt, the closest station to Laney, would add another $130 to tuition. Also, lugging an instrument city-to-city during packed rush hours is a major inconvenience.
Even if the students try to create their own music program on campus through club production, the structure and acoustics of the school make it hard to hear the wavelengths coming off of an instrument. The music just bounces around and disappears into the cold concrete fixtures of the school.
Clinton Day, a professor and music instructor at BCC explains, ”Acoustics here are horrible. Though there are many musicians here that love to play, the only place where students can practice is the auditorium.”
So if you’re a musician who loves playing in an organized group, just became a full time student at BCC, and want to build your music community in the warm vicinity of the City of Berkeley, well, before you throw away your violin, guitar or drums, you should check out a number resources and collectives scattered around the BCC campus that can aid your artistic talents and aspirations.
Meetup.com: Jam – Get together with people from your community
Want just casual jam sessions? These “meetups” are totally free and are open to anyone, beginners and experienced musicians, interested in music. Whether it be jamming in the back of a small music store, going to events where you can derive inspiration from other musicians, or meeting others who love music just as you, Meetup.com offers numerous opportunities for any passionate musician wanting to play.
Check out these groups at Meetup.com: Bay Area Classical Group: Meetup [San Francisco, Oakland, Berkeley] Bay Area Music Circle: Monthly Concert and Potluck [Berkeley] Geeks Who Love Music: Let’s Jam Together! [Emeryville] Plus many more!
California Jazz Conservatory — For the serious artist: Just across the street from BCC, on Addison, this institution offers classes for the same price as a class at Berkeley City College. This includes proper instruction, great feedback, as well as excellent practice rooms and facilities in order to encourage your inner Thelonious Monk, John Coltrane or Ella Fitzgerald.
California Jazz Conservatory
2087 Addison St.
Berkeley, CA 94704
Guitar Center — Rent out rooms to jam/practice:
If you have nowhere to practice your violin or drums, and your landlord threatens to throw you out from the numerous noise complaints you get, you can always rent out a room at Guitar Center in Emeryville. For just $20 an hour you can get a great room, with awesome acoustics, as well as access to equipment, such as speakers and instruments. Better yet, bring a friend and split the cost of a whole day of great music playing.
Guitar Center Emeryville:
5925 Shellmound St.