Call Us Today!

Welcome to Surya Music Lessons

Currently accepting students either in person with mask, or online through Facetime/ Zoom.

Offering Music Lessons in:

Why Choose Surya Music Lessons?

  • Skilled, Knowledgeable and Patient Instructor
  • Passion For Music Education
  • Affordable Rates:
    • 30 minutes - $40
    • 45 minutes - $55
    • 60 minutes - $75

"Surya is a thoughtful, terrific teacher and wonderful human being. He was well prepared for the lesson, and ready to meet me exactly where I was at. I left my lesson feeling inspired, excited, and ready for more!"


Music Lessons
    Surya is a music educator with a Bachelor of Music from the Oberlin Conservatory in Ohio. He has been teaching music for over 15 years. Surya teaches online and out of his own studio in San Pablo, CA. He teaches ages 5 and up.
    In lessons with Surya, students learn to approach their instrument with solid technique and creativity. Lessons are fun, accessible and well-paced. All lessons involve a combination of learning by ear and learning by reading music notation. Lessons include fundamentals like getting a good sound and good posture, ear-training and hearing musical patterns, learning to read music, tempo and groove, and learning to play songs.
    Surya is a patient teacher and is very supportive in the student's learning process. Each person has a different learning style. Surya modifies the pace of the lesson to fit the student, so they can master the material at hand. Studying music can open up a whole world of sound, imagination and joy, and Surya seeks to establish a healthy relationship to that world.
    Surya took piano lessons from age 6-13. He started playing drums in 1991 after enrolling in a high school world music course, and fell in love with music from different parts of the globe. He went to the Oberlin Conservatory of Music and got his Bachelor of Music. There he studied with jazz drummer Greg Bandy and also took formative lessons with Joe Morello and Michael Rosen. He studied Music Theory, Aural Skills, Piano and Western Music History. He studied African-American music history, composition and arranging with Dr. Wendell Logan.
    Surya studied and performed African diaspora percussion with Santeria priests Adenike Sharpley and Adetobi Greg Jackson. After Oberlin, Surya travelled to DeGambia (West Africa) and stayed with a dance and drumming troupe. He then moved back to the Bay Area, playing jazz gigs, and teaching.
    Surya has been a teacher at The Jazz School, the SF Community Music Center, Edna Brewer Middle School, Elmhurst Middle School, California College Preparatory Academy, and more.
    After moving back to the bay area Surya studied voice with Julia Uhlehla at the Community Music Center, and with Andrea Fultz at the Voice Studio in San Francisco. He studied North Indian style singing with Rita Sahai, and then North Indian and Kirtan style singing and harmonium with Jai Uttal from 2011 to 2016.
    Surya was a back-up vocalist and drummer for Pyeng Threadgill from 2008 to 2009. He has led many kirtans, an Indian style of devotional singing. He was a lead singer in the band Bolo, a group that was based in the bay area from 2012-2017.
    His teaching expanded to represent the range of his musical expertise, and now he teaches singing, beginning piano, drumming and harmonium.
    Surya plays music for Shabbats and High Holiday Services at Congregation Kol Shofar.
    He teaches full-time out of his studio.
Hero banner


    Surya is a music educator with a Bachelor of Music from the Oberlin Conservatory in Ohio. He has been teaching music for over 15 years.
    With the construction of his studio 8 years ago, he has since expanded his teaching to include singing, piano, and much more like drum sets and the djembe.
    Join music lessons that engage students in a fun, caring, and enriching way. Surya is here to teach skills you need to be a great musician.
    Contact Surya Music Lessons today let the creative process begin!
Hero banner

Our Services

Singing for Young Singers

Voice lessons are based on a method developed by Gregory Blankenbehler, with influences from the Full Voice curriculum and the Hoffman method. Lessons are really fun and well-paced, keeping young people engaged in the process. Lessons include games, body movement and awareness, encouragement and positive reinforcement, age-appropriate songs, ear-training, and more.

The lessons begin with fun stretches to wake up the body, opening the muscles in the pelvis, torso, chest, neck and face. We make fun animal sounds while we stretch. After waking up the face, tongue, and mouth, we learn a fun new tongue-twister each week to work on articulation and mouth shape awareness.

Next, to wake up the breath we do some movement to get the heart-rate and breath going and promote a mind-body connection. After this movement, students feel the breathing movement of their bellies/lower torso to build the habit of breathing low and not in their shoulders. Then students stand and test how long they can exhale on a hiss, a ‘zzzz,’ or a hum. The time is recorded each week so that the student can try to surpass their previous record.

Posture is an important part of singing, and the student learns to check their own singing posture to see if it is in alignment. This includes feet, knees, hips, back, shoulders and head alignment. It also includes mouth posture. Students learn the correct way to open the inside and back of the throat and find resonance there. They learn to make the right mouth shapes for the primary vowels, moving between the vowels and keeping the tongue forward.

The Siren comes next, with students choosing a vowel or a trill to sweep up and down the range of their voice. We often play a ‘rollercoaster’ game here, imagining different ways the voice can sweep up and down.

I move to the piano, and we play a game called ‘Solfege Surprise.’ This is a fun way to teach young singers the solfege language and to learn intervals.

Next Surya takes the voice through exercises with piano in stepwise motion. Exercises include the trill, slides, and legato and stacato sounds. Different vowels are used here, with different consonants added as well (such as Mee, May, Mah, Moh, and Moo). We sing fun phrases that help with learning the different steps and skips, like “I like to fly like a plane” or “Stepping up and Stepping down and Skipping up and down.”

After the exercises, we delve into the student’s repertoire. We review earlier songs that they have already learned, and then move to new songs that they are working on. Some songs have fun backing tracks with a full band behind them to get the sense of singing with an ensemble. Repertoire development is based on starting with songs that have a ‘Do-Re-Mi” range with stepwise motion, to a ‘Do-Re-Mi-Fa-So’ range with stepwise motion, then to the same range but with skipping intervals, then to the interval of a fourth, a fifth, a sixth, and so on.

Students learn to sing all songs with words, and solfege. They also learn to identify primary and secondary vowels in the song, breath placement, and places where there are skips or other intervals. Singers learn to sing songs with the letter note names as well. Students also learn how to sing a ‘Rhythm language’ that identifies quarter notes, eighth notes, sixteenth notes, etc, so that they understand vocally what rhythm the song is made of.

Finally, Surya provides a fun worksheet on music theory for the level they are on, teaching things like drawing and identifying clefs and notes, rhythm compositions, or transcribing a melody.

Surya writes down what was done in the lesson, and the student goes home with plenty to practice for the next week. Here is a list of the repertoire of songs students will learn:

C is Do and D is Re, Hot Cross Buns, Merrily We Roll Along, Little Things, Chocolate, Five Woodpeckers, Oats Peas Beans and Barley Grow, Down By the Station, Frog In The Middle, Rain Come Wet Me, Let Us Chase the Squirrel, Mary Had a Little Lamb, Mouse In the House, Dinah, Love Somebody, Skipping Song, Gone to Play, Lightly Row, Oh When the Saints, Oranges and Lemons, Tarzan of the Apes, Aura Lee, I’m the Best At Being Me, Grandfather’s Clock, Spinning Song, Spinning Song Upside Down, Listen for Bells, Who’s That?, Lavender’s Blue, All the Pretty Horses, Black Snake, Wild Horses, Silver Birch, Debka Hora, Taps, Home on the Range, The Holly and the Ivy, I Wish on a Star, Deta Deta, Old Folks at Home, Chumbara Chumbara, Canoe Song, If I Had a Big Robot, Halloween, Be Kind to Your Web-Footed Friends, Graduation Song....and more.

Suggested Practice Outline for Young Singers:

Stretching/movement, Posture check - 5 min

The hiss and the four steps to singing - 5 min

Tongue Twister - 2 min

Solfege - 3 min

Siren, trill and Exercises - 5 min

Songs - 10 min (one review, one new)

Total time = 30 min, three or more times in a week.

Beginning Piano and Musicianship

Piano and Musicianship lessons are based on the Hoffman Method. This curriculum is amazing and over the course of 12 units, students learn 64 songs, all 12 keys, proper piano technique, how to sing and hear what they play, and how to notate, read and compose music. They develop a real understanding of what they are playing and how music works. The Hoffman method is an “Ear to Eye” approach, where students sing and/or hear the sound of the music they are learning before they see it and learn to read it on sheet music.

Students start with posture at the piano, finger power, finger numbers, high and low sounds, and call and response. Melodies are played in both left and right hands, as well as together. Students learn to identify all the notes on the piano. Lessons include hand-over-hand warm-ups, note identification games and dictation. Students learn to sing the melodies they play, using note names, solfege, and rhythm language.

Students learn to read notes on the Grand Staff, to identify and understand rhythmic notation, and how to write the notes themselves. Students learn to improvise in different modes, beginning with the C major pentascale, or to improvise with different set rhythms that they compose themselves.

Surya uses visual, kinesthetic, vocalization and listening tools. Students learn to hear melodic patterns and rhythmic patterns and to reproduce them on the piano or on musical staff paper. Each song a student learns contains particular challenges that build the student's skill level, which in turn prepares them to learn their next song.

Here is the repertoire of songs students will learn:

Hot Cross Buns, D journey, C boogie, Five Woodpeckers, Frog in the Middle, Chocolate, Listen for Bells, Mouse in the House, Rain Come Wet Me, Who’s That?, Let Us Chase the Squirrel, Dinah, The Wild Horses, Love Somebody, Mary Had a Little Lamb, Silver Birch Tree, I Have a Dog, Oranges and Lemons, Lavender’s Blue, Spinning Song, Spinning Upside Down, Bagpipe, Debka Hora, Ode to Joy, Row Row Row Your Boat, Lady Lady, I Hear the Mill Wheel, Au Clair de la Lune, La Cinquataine, Honeybee, Kye Kye Kule, Harvest Dance, Happy Birthday to You, Vivace, All the Pretty Horses, Dance, Are You Sleeping, Black Snake, Musette in D, Deta Deta, Allegro in C, Dragon Night, When the Saints Go Marching In, Canoe Song, Melody fo Left Hand(Schytte), Chumbara, Etude(Biehl), Morning Salute(Gurlitt), Tarentella(Hoffman), Promenade(A. Reinagle), Heart and Soul, The Bear(V. Rebikov), Minuet in C(J.-P. Rameau), When Johnny Comes Marching Home, Andante(J.C. Bach), Down By the Bay, The Village Prophet (J.J. Rousseau), Amazing Day(J. Hoffman), Land of the Silver Birch, Arabesque(F. Burgmuller), Greensleeves, Ballade(F. Bergmuller), Musette in D, Sonatina in C.

Suggested Practice Outline for Beginning Piano and Musicianship:

Warm-up(note I.D., finger-power exercises): 10min

Review songs plus backing track: 10 min

New song: 5 min

Theory worksheet: 5 min

Total time = 30 min; three or more times in a week


Drum set lessons will give you the tools to be a solid and creative drummer, to practice daily, and also to have fun with the instrument. Lessons are based on learning stick control/technique, coordination, grooves or beats, soloing, and playing with songs. The students learn fun warm-ups to get started. We work through a piece of Stick Control by George Lawrence Stone, Syncopation by Ted Reed, and A Funky Primer by Charles O’Dowd, and then we move to learning a song. Over time, the student works their way through the three books mentioned above, and learns a whole repertoire of songs that have progressively more difficult beats. Students will also learn fills and solo development, how to listen while they play, how to read music and drum charts, and diverse styles of drumming.

Drum lessons usually begin with some games like call and response, conversational drumming, or number recognition to wake up the ears and move toward getting totally comfortable with the instrument. This is followed by stick control work, learning singles, doubles, paradiddles, flams, closed rolls and other rudiments. After working on stick control, students work on independence between the hands and the bass drum. This is called coordination work because you are learning to do at least 2 different things at once. Students learn to sing the rhythms as well as play them.

After coordination work, students work on drum beats, usually involving three parts(hi-hat, snare, and bass drum). Once the student can play the beat steadily and repeatedly, we add a fill to the beat. This introduces the idea of soloing on the drums and using the rudiments we learned in Stick Control.

Finally, the student learns the beat to a song, along with breaks, fills, intros etc, and plays along with the song over the speakers. The song teaches the student how to play in an ensemble and understand the role of the drums. It also teaches them tempo, dynamics, and how to mark the form of a song. Many of these songs are classics and become part of the student’s repertoire.

Once the student has become comfortable coordinating three limbs(HiHat, Snare and Bass), Surya introduces using the left foot as a fourth limb. This coordination is more advanced and is the beginning of studying jazz rhythms, latin rhythms and more complicated funk beats. The student's repertoire will expand to include songs with odd meters, songs with cross-cultural influences(such as reggae, african or latin), and transcribing beats. In addition, more advanced students will use Master Studies by Joe Morello and the All-American Drummer by Charles Wilcoxon. Students will also learn to play longer solos, including trading fours and eights, as well as reading big band charts.

Here is the repertoire students will learn: We Will Rock You, I'm Not the Only One, You Don't Know How It Feels, Billie Jean, Another One Bites The Dust, Eye Of the Tiger, Seven Nation Army, I Love Rock N' Roll, Every Breath You Take, Thriller, Play That Funky Music(White Boy), Free Fallin', Sugar, We Can Work It Out, Darling Darling Darling, Tramp, Sunshine, Machine Gun (Live at Fillmore East), Under Pressure, Ordinary Love, Stay Up Late, Come Together, Chicken Strut, Magnificent Sanctuary Band, Sunday Bloody Sunday, Happy, I Heard It Through The Grapevine(Creedence Clearwater), Steady As She Goes, Thunder, Maps, What's Goin' On, Smells Like Teen Spirit, D'yer Ma'ker, Fame(David Bowie), Tomorrow Never Knows, Whole Lotta Love, The Ocean, American Girl, Gimme Shelter, Immigrant Song, Since I've Been Lovin You, Something's Burnin', Man On The Moon, American Girl, The Wind Cries Mary, Tequila, Hallelujah I Love Her So, Money, Shade From The Sun, One Day, King Without A Crown, Chain Of Fools, Liberation (Outkast), Feel It Still, Wipeout, Dazed and Confused, Dancing Days, Slippin Into Darkness, Purple Haze, Pixie (Ani DiFranco), 50 Ways To Lose Your Lover, Take Five, Over The Hills and Far Away, Nights on Broadway, Chameleon, Lovely Day, Ain't No Sunshine, Superstition....and more.

Suggested Practice Outline for Drumset:

(Older students just double or triple the amount of time spent on each component)

Warm-up - 5 min

Stick Control (Hand work) - 5 min

Syncopation (Coordination work) - 5 min

Funky Primer (Beats, and beats with fills) - 5 min

Songs - 10 min (one review, one new)

Total time = 30 min; three or more times in a week


star star star star star

As a professional music teacher myself, I have to say that it is extremely rare to find a music educator who is as well rounded, talented, and profoundly kind as Surya. Whether he is teaching voice, drums, or piano, he brings great joy AND precision to the lesson. When I'm learning from Surya I feel totally comfortable and supported. I highly recommend Surya Music Lessons!

star star star star star

I loved and miss my drum lessons with Surya. Hoping to go back soon. He is a professional, skilled, warm, patient man. Our first lesson he assessed what I wanted to work on and what my skill level was, and tailored my lessons thoughtfully in a methodical way. He was always prepared and is a very experienced teacher. I have taken drum lessons with others and none had the teaching chops or were as professional, thoughtful and organized as Surya. I give him the highest recommendation.

star star star star star

As a professional music teacher myself, I have to say that it is extremely rare to find a music educator who is as well rounded, talented, and profoundly kind as Surya. Whether he is teaching voice, drums, or piano, he brings great joy AND precision to the lesson. When I'm learning from Surya I feel totally comfortable and supported. I highly recommend Surya Music Lessons!

Contact Us

1250 Gerald Ave.
San Pablo, CA 94806

View Hours

Dialog will close after 10 sec.

Thank you for submitting your contact request! We will reach back out to you within 24 hours of receiving your request.


Surya Music Lessons Support Team


Google Map

Select language to translate this page: