Community Talking about Music

Celebrating 50 years with Blue Bear

We were just doing this while we were waiting for the band to get famous,” says Steve Savage, who founded the Blue Bear Waltzes School of Music in 1971 with friend Steve Strauss and their colleagues in the rock band Wolfgang and Strauss. And now, 50 years and 40,000 students later, Blue Bear School of Music is a San Francisco institution.

A percussionist, recording engineer/producer, and musicologist, Steve is an avid student of how the very technology that has advanced our access to hearing music – recorded performance – has pushed active music-making to the sidelines. Before the ubiquity of recorded music, for most people music was something you DID, not just listened to. Recordings could be edited to achieve an artificial sense of perfection, making music more intimidating for amateurs to attempt. And over time, that division between being a musician and being a listener has widened dramatically.

With his own roots in rock, Savage sees playing in a band as a natural, welcoming path for amateur musicians. Blue Bear supports everyone who want to learn to play and sing for the joy of it, whatever their skill level or past experience.

Amateur Music Network loves this, of course, and we salute Blue Bear School of Music and wish them another successful 50 years – and many more!

Watch the whole interview with Steve and AMN founder Lolly Lewis in this video.

Blue Bear Executive Director Steve Savage, Ph.D., a Blue Bear founder and current President of the Board of Trustees, is an active producer and recording engineer and has been the primary engineer on seven records that received GRAMMY nominations, including CDs for Robert Cray, John Hammond, The Gospel Hummingbirds and Elvin Bishop.  He is former Chapter President and National Trustee of the San Francisco Chapter of the Recording Academy and teaches in the Humanities Department at San Francisco State University.  Steve has a Ph.D. in musicology from The University of London and has three recently published books: Mixing and Mastering in the Box from Oxford University Press, The Art of Digital Audio Recording from Oxford University Press, and Bytes & Backbeats: Repurposing Music in the Digital Age from The University of Michigan Press.  Steve also sits on the board of Spirit Series, which is a drama-based character education curriculum that brings inspirational biographies to life.  More at

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