Workshops

Klezmer Style Guide & Tune Archive

For information about playing klezmer music in general and on specific instruments, see Klezmer Style Guide »  While we recommend learning and playing by ear, workshop leaders may make sheet music and/or recordings available in our Tune Archive. This Archive also includes popular klezmer tunes at full speed and at half-speed, to make learning by ear as convenient as possible. Watch some of our leaders perform »

KlezCalifornia Workshops

Click here to see upcoming workshops »

KlezCalifornia presents workshops through which individuals can improve their skills in playing klezmer music, singing Yiddish songs in the traditional style, and dancing Yiddish/klezmer dances. We also publicize workshops presented by other groups and teachers. Details of each workshop are given on that workshop’s page; click “View Detail.”

Our goals for workshops are to expand our participation base, increase the cultural literacy of the San Francisco Bay Area community, make possible a continuation of the musical and dance elements of Yiddish culture, and replenish the repertoire by introducing traditional pieces from archival sources and field work. We attempt to offer a fresh and interesting selection of workshops each year. In 2020, we are adding three workshops on Yiddish song and two on klezmer dance. 

The general proficiency level of musicians, dancers, and Yiddish speakers has shown a perceptible increase through KlezCalifornia’s work since 2003, a trend we are proud to build upon. Some of our former participants are now teachers themselves and are creative musicians in their local communities. We are continually refreshing our offerings.

KlezCalifornia is presenting workshops in 2020 free of charge, as a community service during the coronavirus pandemic. Donations of $25 (or whatever you can afford) would be greatly appreciated. Workshops presented by other groups and publicized on this site might have different requirements.

Please register for individual workshops on that event’s webpage. To receive earliest notification of upcoming workshops, subscribe to our newsletter and and check workshops as an area of interest. To RSVP for workshops presented by others, follow the instructions on that workshop’s page. 

This project has been made possible in part by a grant from the Alliance for California Traditional Arts, in partnership with the Walter and Elise Haas Fund, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, and the Surdna Foundation

Klezmer is the traditional celebratory music of the Eastern European Yiddish-speaking Ashkenazi Jewish diaspora. From roots in at least the 16th century, klezmer incorporates Ottoman musical modes and gestures with cantorial melodies and old and new folk tunes from Jewish and other surrounding cultures. Traditionally used mostly for Jewish wedding ceremonies and other simkhehs (celebrations), today klezmer music can also be heard as entertainment in concerts, often mixed with music from various cultures of the contemporary world.

Upcoming Sessions

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Instrumental Workshops

KlezCalifornia invites to our workshops instrumentalists of all ages who are at least intermediate level on any acoustic instrument. No klezmer experience needed, but it doesn’t hurt! We also warmly invite individuals who want to simply listen and enjoy. In some venues, there is room on the side to dance, but since this is a workshop, only some of the time will involve participants playing through songs in a danceable way. Bring an audio recording device and/or a music stand if you like. Brass players should bring a mute.


Each workshop for instrumentalists has a particular theme, such as accompaniment, improvisation, tunes from a particular region, klezmer theory, speed learning, or how to practice. Learning tunes might be by ear at a slow pace or with charts (at the instructor’s discretion). Often, recordings and/or sheet music are put on-line several weeks before the workshop. The final 30 or 60 minutes might have a different theme (announced in advance in the KlezCalifornia newsletter and emails to those on the workshops list,) such as a klezmer jam session

KlezCalifornia invites to our workshops instrumentalists of all ages who are at least intermediate level on any acoustic instrument. No klezmer experience needed, but it doesn’t hurt! We also warmly invite individuals who want to simply listen and enjoy. In some venues, there is room on the side to dance, but since this is a workshop, only some of the time will involve participants playing through songs in a danceable way. Bring an audio recording device and/or a music stand if you like. Brass players should bring a mute.


Each workshop for instrumentalists has a particular theme, such as accompaniment, improvisation, tunes from a particular region, klezmer theory, speed learning, or how to practice. Learning tunes might be by ear at a slow pace or with charts (at the instructor’s discretion). Often, recordings and/or sheet music are put on-line several weeks before the workshop. The final 30 or 60 minutes might have a different theme (announced in advance in the KlezCalifornia newsletter and emails to those on the workshops list,) such as a klezmer jam session

Yiddish Singing Workshops and Yiddish Dance Workshops

No previous experience is needed for Yiddish song workshops or Yiddish dance workshops.

Klezmer Jams

A musical jam is a gathering of musicians to learn tunes while they are played and to experience playing with other musicians. We provide a leader to guide the choice of tunes and tempos, keep the musicians together, and move on to another tune when ready. Once the session is moving along, other players can suggest tunes that they would like to play. Players of developing ability generally play along quietly until they gain more confidence. Ideally a jam session is a “safe,” comfortable, and fun way to exchange music, broaden the repertoire and stylistic skills of all participants, and meet fellow musicians. Jam participants might also suggest or present songs with Yiddish lyrics, adding singing and Yiddish language to the experience. Some participants might dance, reflecting the original context of klezmer as Jewish wedding music.

A musical jam is a gathering of musicians to learn tunes while they are played and to experience playing with other musicians. We provide a leader to guide the choice of tunes and tempos, keep the musicians together, and move on to another tune when ready. Once the session is moving along, other players can suggest tunes that they would like to play. Players of developing ability generally play along quietly until they gain more confidence. Ideally a jam session is a “safe,” comfortable, and fun way to exchange music, broaden the repertoire and stylistic skills of all participants, and meet fellow musicians. Jam participants might also suggest or present songs with Yiddish lyrics, adding singing and Yiddish language to the experience. Some participants might dance, reflecting the original context of klezmer as Jewish wedding music.

Past Sessions

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