SFEMS also takes an active role in music education. It offers a nationally renowned series of summer workshops (first held in 1980) taught by artists in residence at Sonoma State University in Rohnert Park and at St. Albert’s Priory in Oakland to over 300 amateur and professional musicians.
SFEMS offers one of the most comprehensive summer early music programs in the United States, led by a faculty of international artists in residence. The Medieval and Renaissance, Baroque, Recorder, and Classical workshops offer instrumental and vocal master classes, lectures, coached ensembles, and recitals and provide opportunities for musicians and dancers at a variety of levels to improve their ensemble skills, performance techniques, and teaching abilities.
SFEMS also has offered a series of popular evening classes and collegia in Berkeley on all aspects of early music. In recent years, it has added programs for children, including after-school classes in the public schools and a special summer workshop. Occasionally, the Society also arranges master classes and symposia given by visiting performers.
Quotes from past participants:
Very positive, encouraging, nonjudgmental attitude from both fellow students and of course from our teachers, who set that tone from the first moment we met. Master class format in which one listens in on another student’s work is instructive and exciting in all kinds of unexpected ways, even when the other student’s abilities are vastly different from one’s own.
— from the 2013 Baroque Workshop
When I attended the SFEMS summer workshop I had just gotten my hands on a baroque oboe and didn’t quite know where to put the fingers. It was just what I needed: a friendly, relaxed, yet challenging atmosphere. What amazes me when I think about it now is that some of the people I met then have remained friends and colleagues to this day, and I’m sure that’s true for many other participants, not just the crazy ones who somehow turned it into a career.
— Gonzalo X. Ruiz, professional Baroque oboist and Juilliard faculty