Arts & Music for Preschoolers in the East Bay, CA

From our roots as a music preschool in Mrs. Faith Nomura’s Berkeley home, we at Nomura Preschool believe that exposure to art and music at an early age has an enormous positive influence on children. Cognitive development, social life, creative life and physical skill building are all strengthened in the viewing and creating of art and music.We feel lucky to be living in the San Francisco Bay Area, where opportunities for artistic and musical experiences are embedded in our innovative and unique culture.

We decided to collect a few of those opportunities and post them to our blog to encourage our families with preschool age children to experience the arts in the East Bay, CA. Some preschool children show a great interest in performing or art-making early on; others just like to observe, smile, or dance and feel the beat. Wherever your child falls in this spectrum, one of our great purposes as educators of children is to bring out the joy of the arts and music.

The following list is comprised of many popular and recommended venues and organizations, but is not comprehensive. Many thanks to the Berkeley Parents Network for culling together so many good reviews on their discussion boards.


Performance Arts for Preschool-Age Children

Redwood Grove Concert series at the UC Botanical Garden – A family-friendly concert series held in the beautiful Redwood Grove amphitheater. If your child gets antsy, enjoy a stroll along the garden paths and let nature do its magic. Check the website around June for the schedule.

Youth Musical Theater in Berkeley – This company of talented middle- and high-school students produces professional-caliber performances that will delight and inspire younger performers.

Cal Performances “Family Fare” – Keep an eye on this spectacular, family-friendly, international performance series put on by the University of California Berkeley. Offers matinee shows for those with early bedtimes.

Ashkenaz Music & Dance Community Center – This dance and music hall on San Pablo Ave in North Berkeley is a Bay Area staple for world music performances and always-all-ages fun (parents will find a good beer, wine, and vegetarian food menu). Check out the website for the schedule.

Renaissance Faires – With sites up and down California, Renaissance Faires are a spectacle of entertainment, arts and historical transformation. Songs are performed, workshops are held, fine wares are sold, and talents displayed; one might even get a visit from the Queen! A fun venue for children and parents – we especially like the Dickens Faire, a Victorian-era festival held at the Cow Palace in San Francisco in November-December.


Artists’ Workshops / Visual Art Classes for Young Children

Albany Community Center – A robust program of youth classes; their classes for Tiny Tots are specially designed for young ages. Flip through their Activity Guide to find the right class for your child.

Richmond Art Center – An important institution, supporting many aspects of public art for the City of Richmond. They offer a variety of art classes; here’s the schedule.

Monart – Located in Berkeley, Monart founder Mona Brookes offers classes with an “academic-based drawing curriculum” to a variety of ages, including preschool children. Check out the course offerings.

Young Artists’ Work Space – A Berkeley arts center focusing on education, youth exhibitions and teacher training with great reviews from parents. Check out their lovely website for the class schedule.


Family Music Sessions for Preschoolers

Kindermusik – Voted a Bay Area Parent Favorite of 2010, this is a national curriculum of family playdate musical sessions. New families can try a first class free. “Each Kindermusik session is a world of discovery and adventure. In every session, both in class and at home, you’ll witness your child’s developmental evolution in language, literacy, listening, problem solving, social skills, self-esteem, and musicality. It all happens within a nurturing environment full of energy, imagination, music, dancing, and playful delight.” 

Music Together – With locations throughout the East Bay, this curriculum offers family playdate musical sessions for various age groups. Siblings and various family members are invited.

Jingle Jamboree – With a mission to “instill a love of music in each child”, Jingle Jamboree in Berkeley starts with singing and teaches music concepts from there.

Sing Thing – Located in Albany and Oakland, Sandi Morey’s Sing Thing “is an ongoing, family-oriented group for everyone who likes to sing. It is an opportunity to share a musical experience with your children and to meet other families who enjoy making music. We include two-parent families, single-parent families, couples, and single adults. We don’t use song sheets and no musical experience is necessary. We sing for fun and relaxation—period! Children should be at least five years old.”


Choral/ Instrument Music Groups & Lessons for Young Children

Crowden Music Center – This Berkeley music center offers beginner solo music lessons, group instrument lessons, and musical sessions for young children. Check out their diverse offerings; the youngest ages are 4-5.

Piedmont East Bay Children’s Choir – Kids from 4-18 enjoy a deeply musical career with the Piedmont East Bay Children’s Choir. “The internationally-acclaimed Piedmont East Bay Children’s Choir offers children throughout San Francisco’s East Bay an outstanding program of choral training and performance. Founded in 1982, the Choir has established itself as a leading force in international choral activities and new music under the dynamic leadership of Artistic Director Robert Geary.”

Albany Music School – The Albany Music School in El Cerrito has private lessons, group classes, and special programs like recording and youth choir. Instruments include piano, flute, violin, voice, drums, guitar and “more”. The school is located next to the El Cerrito Plaza, convenient for our El Cerrito, Richmond, and Albany families.


Nomura Preschool is a Bay Area preschool located on the El Cerrito – Albany border in Richmond, CA, whose focus has always centered on providing healthy social, academic, and physical development experiences for children ages 2 to 5. Conveniently located along the I-80 and I-580 corridor, Nomura Preschool proudly works with Bay Area families in Berkeley, El Cerrito, Albany, Richmond, Point Richmond, Kensington, Marina Bay, San Pablo, Hercules, and Pinole since 1964. For Open Houses and tour information, visit Admissions.