Summer Music Academy

Registration for July 2024 Now Open!

Summer Music Academy offers an exciting three weeks of music immersion. Students can learn to play an instrument for the first time or enrich their music studies, all while making new friends with musicians from throughout Sonoma County. They develop musicianship in fundamentals and rhythm classes and enjoy workshops and ensembles led by professional musicians, including members of the Santa Rosa Symphony.


Instrument Workshops

MON-FRI, 9:00 am – 3:00 pm, July 8 – July 26

For 0-3 years of experience, ages 7-14 (Kinder Violin for ages 5-6)

Full days of music create a strong foundation for developing musicians (ages 7-14; Kinder ages 5-6) with experience ranging from zero to three years of playing. Students can learn a new instrument or develop skills on an instrument they already play. Students will be placed in classes with peers of compatible skill level. From 9:00 am to 3:00 pm, every weekday for three weeks, students are thoroughly immersed in the exhilarating world of music.

Choose an instrumental workshop from the following:

  • Kinder Violin, ages 5-6   (Limited space available)
  • Violin or Viola, ages 7-14
  • Cello or Double bass, ages 7-14
  • Guitar, ages 7-14
  • Woodwinds, ages 7-14
  • Brass, ages 7-14

Workshop enrollment includes classes in Choir, Rhythm, Movement, and Fundamentals.

Performance Academy

MON-FRI, 9:00 am – 3:00 pm, July 8 – July 26.
*Select 1-week course options available.
Performance Academy Concert on Saturday, July 27 at 10:00 am

For experienced instrumentalists ages 9-23. Placement audition required.


Audition-based ensemble courses and advanced musicianship for older, more experienced instrumentalists ages 9-23. From 9:00 am to 3:00 pm, every weekday for three weeks, students are challenged to bring their musicianship to the next level. Select 1-week course options are available. Performance Academy culminates with a concert on Saturday, July 27, 2024. 

  • Prelude String Orchestra (3 weeks only)
  • Intermezzo String Orchestra (3 weeks only)
  • Chamber Ensemble/Electives*
  • Music Technology/Composition*
  • Jazz Ensemble*

*sign up for one, two, or three weeks of these courses.  Each week will have a specialized focus. Customize a package by selecting one ensemble for each week.

Performance Academy enrollment includes specialty classes such as Composition, Improvisation, Conducting, and more.

Workshops – Course Details

For 0-3 years of experience, ages 7-14 (Kinder Violin for ages 5-6).

Workshop classes are a good choice for brand new or developing musicians. Students with some instrument experience will be placed in classes with peers of compatible skill level.  Enrollment includes daily Choir, Rhythm, Movement and Fundamentals classes.

One week option NOT available for Workshop Courses.​

Kinder Violin

Ages 5 to 6.  More info soon.
Faculty: Liz Moore Cooper

Beginning or Continuing Violin and Viola

No prior music experience is necessary for beginning violin and viola; 0-3 years’ experience for continuing violin and viola students. Classes teach students to play violin or viola in a group setting. More experienced players develop new skills and hone the fundamentals. Ages 7 and up.
Faculty: Alex Volonts & Daphne Gooch

Beginning or Continuing Cello

No prior music experience is necessary for beginning cello; 0-3 years’ experience for continuing students cello. Classes teach students to play the cello in a group setting. More experienced players develop new skills and hone the fundamentals. Ages 7 and up.
Faculty: Kathleen Balfe

Double Bass Intensive

No prior music experience is necessary for beginning bass; 0-3 years’ experience for continuing students bass. Classes teach students to play the bass in a group setting. More experienced players develop new skills and hone the fundamentals. Ages 7 and up.
Faculty: Karen Zimmerman

Beginning or Continuing Guitar & Classical Guitar

No prior music experience is necessary for beginning guitar; 0-3 years’ experience for continuing guitar. Classes teach guitar technique, standard music notation and music theory in a group setting. Includes both ensemble and solo playing. Ages 7 and up.
Faculty: Chris Newton & Julio Reyes

Beginning or Continuing Woodwinds 

Appropriate for beginning to intermediate students who have played woodwinds for 0-3 years. Open to flute, oboe, clarinet, saxophone, and bassoon. Classes introduce students to playing woodwinds in a group setting. More experienced players develop new skills and hone the fundamentals.
Faculty: Sara Williams

Beginning or Continuing Brass 

Appropriate for beginning to intermediate students who have played brass instruments for 0-3 years. Open to horn, trumpet, trombone, euphonium, and tuba. Classes introduce students playing brass in a group setting. More experienced players develop new skills and hone the fundamentals.
Faculty: Rachel Aragaki

All workshop courses include supplemental classes in Rhythm, Movement, and Choir

Faculty: Darina Drapkin & Liz Fanora Jones (Rhythm, Movement & Choir)

If you have questions about Summer Music Academy, please contact program manager, Ryan Contreras:

Performance Academy – Course Details

For experienced instrumentalists, ages 9 – 23.

Students focus on performance in an ensemble setting and deepen their musical understanding through specialty classes such as composition, conducting, improvisation, music theory, and more. The courses culminate in a performance on Saturday, July 29. Students are appropriately placed in ensembles by audition.

One-week option is available ONLY for Chamber Ensemble, Jazz Ensemble & Music Technology.
Customize a package by selecting one of these ensembles for each week.

One-week option NOT available for Prelude or Intermezzo.

Prelude String Orchestra

Audition required. Open to violin, viola, cello, and double bass. No prior ensemble experience required. Students must have played their instrument for at least one year. Students will master the basics of playing in an ensemble.  
Faculty: Karen Zimmerman

Intermezzo String Orchestra

Audition required. Open to violin, viola, cello, and double bass. For intermediate string students with at least two years’ ensemble experience. Students will learn to follow a conductor as they enhance their ensemble skills, improve their technique and develop their musicianship.
Faculty: Jeanette Isenberg

Chamber Ensemble  – One week course option available

Audition required. Open to violin, viola, cello, and double bass. For advanced string students with at least four years ensemble experience. Classes will focus on technique and ensemble playing as students practice standard repertoire for chamber ensembles. Students also choose one specialty class (TBD) to complement their ensemble learning. May enroll for one, two or three weeks.
Faculty: Joel Cohen

Jazz Ensemble  – One week course option available

Audition required. Open to all instruments. For intermediate to advanced students, this class is an exploration of different jazz styles, with a focus on improvisation technique and ensemble playing. There is a special need for musicians who play drum set, bass (electric or upright) and piano. Drum set and keyboard are provided by Santa Rosa Symphony.  Students also choose one specialty class (TBD) to complement their ensemble learning.  May enroll for one, two or three weeks.
Faculty: Robert Bowman

Music Technology/Composition – One week course option available

No Audition required. Open to all instruments. This course explores everything related to Music Technology while working in the state of the art Media Tech Lab. Students enrolled will be able to use a desktop workstation every day, learning about programs including Rock Band and more.   Students also choose one specialty class (TBD) to complement their ensemble learning.
Faculty: Costantinos Dafnis

Film/ Theatre/ Video Game Music – One week course option available

No Audition required. Open to all instruments.This course explores the music of film, video games and musical theater, giving students a taste of the life of a professional musician. The class is taught by outstanding San Francisco Conservatory professor Costas Dafnis. Students may sign up for this course on a weekly basis.
Faculty: Costantinos Dafnis

Performance Academy courses include supplemental classes such as Music Exploration Lab, Conducting, Improvisation, and more!

Faculty: Jeanette Isenberg (Music Exploration Lab), Costantinos Dafnis (Composition), & Robert Bowman (Improvisation)

If you have questions about Summer Music Academy, please contact program manager, Ryan Contreras:

Faculty & Staff


Rachel instructs brass with a pedagogy centered around mindfulness, physiology, and over ten years of elite performing experience. Her teaching mission is to foster a lifelong love for music in her students while cultivating sustainable practices to support that passion. She is an avid proponent of anatomical wellness schools like Alexander Technique and Body Mapping, but she also looks to physics and psychology for pedagogical inspiration. Rachel is a relatively new transplant to Sonoma County, but she’s developed a huge appreciation for the local area’s food, outdoors, and community. After earning her master’s degree from CSU Long Beach studying with her Hollywood music heroes, she moved to Santa Rosa to spend time with family while developing her teaching career both locally and online. She currently holds the Principal horn position with the Sonoma County Philharmonic, plays in a brass quintet, and teaches horn privately.

“Kathleen Balfe, cellist, has lived in Spain since 2003 where she has built a multifaceted career and developed a variety of styles as a soloist and as a member of different groups in Granada and in Tenerife.

She is currently on a sabbatical from her position as principal cellist of the City of Granada Orchestra and performed as guest principal cellist with the Royal Symphony Orchestra of Sevilla and the Tenerife Symphony Orchestra. Starting next season, Kathleen Balfe will be the principal cellist of the Modesto Symphony in California. She also is a tenured member of the Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music and has worked as a substitute with the Santa Rosa Symphony and the New Century Chamber Orchestra.

Kathleen Balfe has taught cello technique to cellists of all ages in private classes and at master classes in conservatories and universities, and coached the cello sections of youth orchestras in Spain and the United States. A student of Irene Sharp, Lawrence LesserElisabeth Reed, and Emmanuel Balssa, she recently she completed an “Every Child Can” certificate for the Suzuki Association of the Americas and is working on the Level 1 Suzuki certificationKathleen has also attended numerous courses and symposiums on string pedagogy through the string teacher program in Spain called CEPIC and through the American String Teachers Association.”

Robert Bowman has played bass professionally for over ten years. After graduating from California State University Northridge with a Bachelors of Music in Jazz Studies, Robert moved to Sonoma County to pursue performance as well as begin his career as an educator. Robert Bowman is involved with several working bands all around Sonoma and Napa counties. He is currently on faculty at St. Vincent de Paul High School where he serves as Art Dept. Chair as well as Band Director, Simply Strings and Summer Music Academy. While his degree is in Jazz, Robert is proficient in a variety of musical genres including classical, pop/ rock, bluegrass, musical theatre and many others. Robert has played all over the country and the world, recording and performing with several artists in a wide variety of musical genres.

Photo by Jurgita Mazeika

Cellist Joel Cohen has played with many musicians and organizations throughout his multifaceted career. He has played with orchestras in California, Ontario (Canada), Vienna, Boston; chamber music concerts in Vienna, Boston, southern France, Malta, Martha’s Vineyard, San Francisco. He went to university in Canada, and has also lived in France and Austria, and has toured with various ensembles throughout Europe, Japan and the U.S., as well as to South America, North Africa, Turkey and China. His first position after school was with the Oakland Symphony Orchestra. He became co-principal cellist there in 1979, and continued in that position until he moved to Vienna in 1985. He began playing with the Vienna Chamber Orchestra (under Philippe Entremont) soon after arriving in Austria, and while living there he also played regularly with the Vienna Radio Symphony, the Wiener Kammeroper, the Johann Strauss Festival Orchestra (playing annual tours to Japan) and was a member of Quartett Yggdrasil, a string quartet specializing in “Music from the music of the 20th century”. In 1997 his career brought him back to the US, landing him in Boston. While living there he played with the Boston Symphony, the National Lyric Opera, the Landmarks Orchestra and many other organizations, as well as teaching cello at the College of the Holy Cross (Worcester). In 2001 he became a founding member of Quartet San Francisco, a string quartet playing modern genres, including jazz and tango. This group won Grammy nominations for “Best Classical Crossover CD” for two consecutive productions, “Latigo” (2006) and “Whirled Chamber Music” (2007). He left the quartet in the spring of 2009. He moved back to California in the end of 2007, and has been living in Mendocino County since then. Along with continuing his classical explorations as recitalist, chamber musician and soloist with orchestra, he has also been exploring the expanding role of the cello in non-classical settings, including jazz, celtic and improvisation. He has been leading the Cello Big Band at the annual New Directions Cello Festival since 2001, and he taught at Alasdair Fraser’s Sierra Fiddle Camp from 2010-2019. Mr Cohen currently performs regularly with the Santa Rosa Symphony and with Quantum Piano Quintet.

Photo by Stephanie Winship

Costas Dafnis is a composer, conductor and a professor of Technology and Composition at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. He has collaborated with director Christopher Coppola on several projects including the feature film Torch, short film Sammy & Quinn and experimental narrative VR experience Universe At Play. In 2021, his film score for Overwhelm the Sky was released by La La Land Records. His work has been awarded by New Music USA, the American Prize, International Music Prize for Excellence in Composition, and the Dallas Winds. His Mariana for soprano and processed underwater audio was featured by NOAA/PMEL in an article called “The Music of Challenger Deep” and his 2019 set of Cajun-language art songs is the subject of soprano Nancy Carey’s series of DMA lecture recitals and dissertation. His remote-produced electro-acoustic chamber suite Talos Dreams was commissioned by the Greek Chamber Music Project and his orchestral work was featured at the 2019 Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music’s In the Works series. Costas plays mandolin, designs experimental instruments, and conducts and curates concerts of contemporary music.

Darina Drapkin is a life-long singer and musician. Having studied classical piano, guitar, flute, percussion, ukulele and, most recently, violin, she feels at home with a wide variety of styles and genres of music, both as a teacher and performer. Darina performs with the Sonoma County women’s Balkan ensemble “Gradina”, who put out an album in March, 2020. Darina has studied classical piano for 17 years and Balkan voice with Lily Storm of Kitka for over a decade. She is well versed in the Kodaly method of music education, having taught music at Sunridge and is a faculty member of Simply Strings.She is currently recording a second album of diverse multi instrumental songs and has included her flute-playing young son on the first one.

Daphne Gooch is a Portland-based violist whose passion for both chamber and orchestral music encompasses a wide range of repertoire, from the Baroque period to contemporary music. During her formative years as an undergraduate at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, she played with the Baroque Ensemble as well as with the New Music Ensemble while also collaborating with numerous chamber groups. She then went on to receive a Master’s in Orchestral Performance from Manhattan School of Music and an Artist Diploma from the San Francisco Academy Orchestra. A founding member of the Astraeus String Quartet, Gooch enjoyed four years with this ensemble before moving to Portland. She is currently privileged to play with the Oregon Ballet Theatre, Portland Opera, Oregon Symphony Orchestra, Eugene Symphony, and the Santa Rosa Symphony in her Northern California hometown.

Photo by Neil and Susan Silverman

Liz Fanora Jones is a singer/songwriter and music educator in the North Bay. She specializes in guitar, vocals, ukulele, piano & flute and also enjoys accompanying several different groups and genres of music. Some of her favorite styles are R&B, rock, blues, reggae, soul and pop music and she loves to work with theaters accompanying musicals as well. Liz Fanora loves to share her original empowerment music at local venues but she adores to teach music in individual and group settings. She works with students of all ages and levels, and believes in using optimism, creativity and theory knowledge to help encourage her students to grow into their full musical potentials.

Ms. Isenberg holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in music and divides her time between teaching and performance. She has diverse musical talents: she plays violin with the Santa Rosa Symphony, classical chamber ensembles, jazz combos and country swing bands.

Photo by Neil and Susan Silverman

Chris Newton is a Multi-Instrumentalist, Singer-Songwriter, Composer, Arranger, Producer, Music Teacher and has been playing music in the Bay Area for over fifteen years. Chris was first self-taught on the guitar at the age of 13 but in college, he began studying music more seriously, learning Jazz with instructors such as Tuck Andress, Randy Vincent, Brian Pardo, Gary Digman and Bennett Friedman. He received his AA in Jazz Studies from Santa Rosa Junior College and his Bachelor’s of Music from Sonoma State University. He performs both solo or with his band Mood Jungle blending elements of jazz, rock, funk and neo-soul influences.

Julio Reyes started his musical training on the classical guitar at the age of 5 and by the time he was 18, learned the cello, electric bass, and was appointed Assistant Conductor to a young Kent Nagano for the Oakland Symphony Youth Orchestra. He gave his guitar recital debut at the age of 12, placed 4th in an International Agustin Barrios Competition in Mexico City at age 13, and gave a 3-week concert tour of Paraguay the following year. He performed Rodrigo’s “Concierto de Aranjuez” with Calvin Simmons and the Oakland Symphony Orchestra as a senior in High School. Since then, he has conducted youth and adult orchestras in the US, Europe, South America, and Cuba. He conducted Prince Albert of Monaco’s private orchestra in the opera, “Fay Yen Fah” at the Monaco Opera in 2010. He made his Carnegie Hall debut in February of 2022. He has been an educator for many years and has given lectures and masterclasses on the life and music of Agustin Barrios at various conservatories of music, colleges, and guitar societies in the US and South America. He excited to be working for the education department of the Santa Rosa Symphony and teaches guitar privately.

Alex Volonts is a musician and educator in Sonoma County. He has been a member of the Santa Rosa Symphony since 2007 and is also contracted with the Monterey Symphony Orchestra. Mr. Volonts studied viola performance at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music as well as the Juilliard School’s pre-college division. He began his musical studies at 5 years old as a violin student at the North Shore Suzuki Institute of Long Island, New York. Mr. Volonts has performed as a soloist, chamber musician and orchestral player throughout the Bay Area. He resides in Santa Rosa with his wife and fellow accomplished musician (Tingting), and their 2 young children (Nathan and Tiana). Mr. Volonts is currently the specialty strings teacher at SunRidge Elementary in Sebastopol.

Photo by Neil and Susan Silverman

Sara Williams is an oboe/woodwind performer and music teacher at Herbert Slater Middle School and Strawberry Elementary school. She loves teaching woodwinds and working with beginners to develop solid foundational techniques on instruments. She enjoys performing in pit orchestras for musicals and playing oboe, flute, clarinet, and saxophone. As a student she performed with the Santa Rosa Symphony youth ensembles and participated in the Summer Music Academy on flute and oboe. In her spare time she enjoys hiking, playing video games, and watching scary movies.

Ms. Zimmerman holds both Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in music from the Juilliard School. While in New York, Karen played with the New York Philharmonic and the Metropolitan Opera along with appearing with various chamber ensembles throughout the city. She now plays with the Santa Rosa Symphony along with other local orchestras, has an active teaching schedule and is the Librarian for the Santa Rosa Symphony.

Photo by Neil and Susan Silverman


If you have questions about Summer Music Academy, please contact program manager, Ryan Contreras,

Tuition & Financial Aid


Kinder Violin Workshops – 3 weeks ONLY$900
Instrument Workshops – 3 weeks ONLY$850
Performance Academy Courses – 3 weeks$925
Performance Academy: Music Technology – 3 weeks$950
Performance Academy: select 1-week courses$475

Payment information can be found on the registration form.
A $50 non-refundable deposit is required with application and will be applied to tuition.

After completing your registration form, please submit your deposit:

Tuition includes daily chef-made lunch for all students! SAMPLE MENU>

Financial Aid

Priority deadline for financial aid is June 1, 2024. Applications received prior to the deadline are given preference over those received following the deadline.

A limited number of financial aid awards are available to help cover tuition fees. Student eligibility is based upon family income and expenses, using criteria created by the State of California Department of Education. Please note that financial aid recipients are not eligible for other tuition discounts.

dates & Safety

Important Dates

February 1, 2024Registration opens
June 1, 2024Financial Aid Application priority deadline
June 26, 2024Registration closes
July 8, 2024First day of Summer Music Academy!
July 25 & 26, 2024Open House for all workshops and specialty classes
July 27, 2024Concert featuring Performance Academy students

Health & Safety

The health and safety of all campers, faculty and staff is our top priority.

Guidance from state and local authorities will determine actual policies in Summer 2024. Please check back as we release our current guidelines and updated Health & Safety Plan.

If you have questions about Summer Music Academy, please contact program manager, Ryan Contreras,


Sonoma Academy
2500 Farmers Ln, Santa Rosa, CA 95404

SMA returns for a third year to the beautiful Sonoma Academy campus! Surrounded by 1,000 acres of protected open space at the base of Taylor Mountain in Southeast Santa Rosa, this school has become the home base for many Santa Rosa Symphony Youth programs.

We gratefully acknowledge the generous contribution from:

Summer Music Academy sponsored by The Friends and Family of Sonja Coyman-Myklebust, in loving memory

Additional support from Kiwanis of Santa Rosa