I offer instruction in both songwriting and piano, and would love to talk with you about how I might be able to assist you with your musical goals.
For those living in the Bay Area, I offer individual instruction in both songwriting and piano out of my Oakland studio.
For piano I teach classical, jazz, and various other contemporary styles. I work with all ages and skill levels.
My approach to songwriting is distinctly anti-formula. Unlike many songwriting classes out there that focus on songwriting rules, I use a more challenging but I believe ultimately more rewarding approach of taking each song only on its own terms… My goal is to help each one of your songs become more authentically what it is, and to help you as a songwriter home in on and cultivate your specific and unique songwriting voice. I have developed a number of tools for this process, and it has been my absolute joy to help aspiring songwriters use them and watch as they creatively bloom before my eyes.
If you are a songwriter living in the Bay Area, and like group settings, you might consider taking my course at California Jazz Conservatory’s continuing education program. This 9-10 week course shines a spotlight on each of the most important components of songwriting (for example lyrics, melody, negotiating the relationship between lyrics and melody, diatonic harmony, writing chord progressions that leave the key, and song form), as well as provides a safe and dynamic space for learning from your favorite songwriters and workshopping your original songs. This is a great way to establish a foundation in the stuff of songwriting, to springboard your songwriting, and/or to strengthen under-noticed areas of your songwriting that may be preventing you from writing your most effective songs. Find out more on the CJC website.
For those not living in the Bay Area, I am now offering remote songwriting consultation. You can send me a song and I will offer ideas on how to further develop it, either via email or a Skype session. Please contact me directly for details.
Rachel is an excellent songwriting teacher. There are so many factors that contribute to making a good song and she is an expert at all of them. I have received so much valuable feedback from her and she has assisted me in developing many of my songs to be so much stronger than when I first presented them. I am a prolific writer and I came to her class to learn how to go about taking my raw songs and crafting them to make them better. I got that and so much more. My entire world of songwriting has been broadened and changed forever in a wonderful way. I am so grateful I decided to take her class, it’s one of the best investments I’ve made in my career as a singer songwriter. —Bekah Barnett, singer/songwriter
I came to Rachel purely as a tunesmith who thought he had no gift for writing lyrics. Within months she had me writing not only better music but lyrics I’m proud of, and I’ve seen similar improvement in other Efron disciples. Well-versed in styles ranging from cabaret to rock, Rachel, never attempting to force a songwriter into a mold, begins her coaching by asking what a song’s message is and what, if anything, should be changed to strengthen it. She might suggest surgery (say, the deletion or addition of a bridge or a shift to from major to minor to improve the compatibility of sprightly melody and somber words) or merely a small reduction in number of syllables or a change of one or two chords. (Rachel has cured my habit of piling on show-off chromatic harmony at the expense of emotional honesty and gotten three-chord folk-rockers to add harmonic excitement by venturing into secondary dominants and augmented chords.) A superb song doctor, Rachel is also a guide to freeing the imagination. I’ve gotten past creative blocks via such Efron recommendations as scribbling free-associatively in a notebook or leaving the piano bench I’ve been squirming on for a mind-clearing jog in the streets.—Joe Kornfeld, songwriter
I am delighted and grateful to say that Rachel Efron has been the midwife of many of my songs. In the several years I have had the pleasure and honor of working with her, both the quality of my music and my understanding of its construction have improved dramatically. Warm, empathetic, patient, creative, and brilliant, she is without a doubt one of the finest teachers I have ever had! —Patricia Stamm, songwriter/playwright, psychiatrist
I first met Rachel when I took her class on songwriting at the California Jazz Conservatory. It was like I had been standing around the kitchen for a few years really, really hoping to cook and create something musically, and Rachel welcomed me in, lent me some spoons and knives and showed me how to chop. In the three years since, I’ve worked with her frequently at the Salon and defrosting the piano lessons of my youth. We had a weekly phone meeting for over a year to keep me on track to create my demos and bring this project into the world, as well as comb over all my seven potential songs in pre-production.
Precise, compassionate, empowering, and rife with hilarious visual metaphors, Rachel is a master teacher and a jewel of an editor. Who else would say, “There’s too much weather in that verse – it’s too Jane Eyre,” and know I would understand, exactly? —Melanie Chopko, singer/songwriter, visual artist