FAQ

The Crowden School, where music changes everything!

Where are you located?

Crowden is located at 1475 Rose Street in Berkeley, at the corner of Sacramento and Rose, in the heart of the Westbrae neighborhood. It is a ten minute walk from North Berkeley BART.

Is this a school for children who want to become professional musicians?

The goal of the music program is to provide young musicians with the opportunity to be coached and to perform in a variety of ensembles, chamber groups, ensemble chorus, and orchestra. It provides the best possible support for musically advanced students with the desire to pursue music more intensively, and supports students with a more general interest in music. Music placements are determined by a student’s current level of playing, and not by grade or age.

Do you accept beginners?

Yes! Beginning string players are admitted at the fourth and fifth grade levels. For beginners, aptitude and enthusiasm for music are more important than accomplishment. These traits can be demonstrated at the audition by playing any musical instrument or by singing. Candidates applying to sixth through eighth grade must have prior experience playing an instrument. Candidates for the piano program must have significant facility with sight-reading and experience with chamber music.

What is the daily school schedule?

The first two hours of the school day (8:00am–9:45am) are devoted to music instruction (instrument technique, musicianship, orchestra, and chamber ensembles). Music assignments change after each concert.

The academic program runs from 10:10am until 3:30pm and includes English, history, math, science, French, art, chorus, physical education, and music history. Find academic schedules by grade here.

How does the music program work with the academic program?

The study of music enhances students' cognitive abilities by training the brain in critical thinking. Students develop the ability to sustain a high level of concentration and attention to detail while working in a cooperative manner. They become more creative, effective, empathetic communicators. The same set of skills honed in ensemble training crosses over into academic classrooms. Students develop a confidence in their own abilities. The smaller class setting encourages discussion and a greater depth of understanding. The best evidence supporting Crowden's approach to education is the success rate of its graduates in high school admissions and beyond. Whether they choose a professional career in music or pursue other interests, music remains an integral part of their lives. Crowden graduates describe their experience as transformative, and go on to excel in their chosen fields.

What is the average class size?

The average class size is thirteen and the average student to teacher ratio is 3:1.

Do you offer after-school child care?

Yes! We offer Aftercare every day from 3:45pm-6:00pm. Students meet in the library and have the opportunity to do homework and participate in supervised recreation on the school's playing field. The charge is a daily fee of $15 per student if picked up by 5:00pm, $20 if picked up by 6:00pm. Students who leave for and return from a Crowden lesson pay $15 regardless of whether they are picked up after 5:00pm. As always, Aftercare closes at 6:00pm.

Which high schools do Crowden graduates attend?

Crowden prepares its students to succeed in a variety of school environments. Most Crowden students are accepted into their first choice high school. Throughout the eighth grade year, we help students get ready for high school through our High School Prep Course.

Recent high school choices include: Athenian School, Berkeley High School, College Preparatory School, Head Royce School, Lick-Wilmerding, Marin Academy, Ruth Asawa San Francisco School of the Arts, San Domenico School Virtuoso Program.

Do you require an entrance exam?


Yes, academic testing and auditions will be held on the following dates:

  • February 8, 2017, 9:15am–12:15pm
    Lower School Auditions (for applicants to grades 4 and 5)
  • February 15, 2017, 9:15am–12:15pm
    Upper School Auditions (for applicants to grades 6. 7, and 8)
Find Crowden School admissions dates and deadlines here

Can my child keep his or her current music teacher?


Yes! All students are required to take private lessons once a week outside of school classes. The Crowden School does not offer private instruction in the music program. The school's music faculty and private teachers communicate openly to support each student's learning.

What if my child wants to study both piano and a string instrument?

It depends on the child's proficiency on each instrument. In fact, a high percentage of our students study both piano and a string instrument privately, but choose to focus on a stringed instrument at school. We have found that it is extremely valuable for our pianists' musicianship (especially as accompanists and chamber musicians) to also study a stringed instrument.

If the child demonstrates high proficiency on both instruments we will make every effort to make it work within our schedule and our available resources. Other factors to consider include the requisite practice needed for both instruments and the child's ability to juggle our school's musical and academic demands. We offer an annual, informal piano workshop to both Upper School students and Lower School students who primarily play a stringed instrument at Crowden.

How do the musicianship and composition classes work?

Crowden has a long tradition of supporting the efforts of its young composers. We offer five levels of musicianship and composition classes that meet twice weekly throughout the school year for all of our students. Classes cover a multitude of topics, including harmony, counterpoint, ear training, sight singing, and analysis. There are opportunities for students to hear their works performed and discuss them with both their peers and with our distinguished faculty, most of whom are professional composers. The Lower School collaborates on an annual composition project; sixth and seventh grade students present their own and each other's works during an in-school student composition concert. The eighth grade Composition Project in June culminates their musical year. Young composers in the day school may wish to supplement their studies through participation in the John Adams Young Composers Program (offered as one of our community education programs).

Does Crowden offer any foreign languages?

Yes. Students begin French in sixth grade.

What is the balance between homework and practicing an instrument?

Academic and music faculty coordinate homework assignments and music practice so that students are not overburdened. Homework is assigned at the discretion of the teacher to enrich the classroom experience, to help students achieve mastery of the given material and to review daily lessons. During class time, our music teachers specify how best to accomplish personal goals during home practice. Homework lessens to accommodate extra practice requirements before a concert.

In general, both homework and practice are assigned daily, using the guidelines below.

Fourth and Fifth Grades: approximately 60 minutes daily

Lower School students learn how to write down homework assignments, complete them, and turn them in punctually. Homework is assigned regularly and adjustments are made accordingly throughout the year. Lower School students will typically be asked to practice at home for a total of 20 minutes per day.

Sixth through Eighth Grades: approximately 120 minutes daily

Typically, homework and practice should not exceed 120 minutes of consistent, uninterrupted effort. Upper School students spend on average no more than 60 minutes per school night on homework, and will typically be asked to practice at home for a total of 60 minutes per day. Part of the Upper School experience is adjusting to specialized content-area teachers. Upper School students learn that each teacher has different expectations for class participation and homework. Some teachers assign homework as part of what develops from the day’s classroom discussions; others find giving a weekly assignment more useful. By the time students reach Upper School, it is part of their academic responsibility to write down assignments in class and to check the school’s online grading system for homework.

If a student is regularly exceeding these guidelines, teachers should be advised so that appropriate adjustments can be made. Note that at the beginning of the year and after holidays some students take longer to adjust to the demands of their new or changing schedules.

Healthy playing habits are of prime importance to all performers. We urge families and private teachers to communicate promptly with the school if a student exhibits any signs of strain or if there are concerns about his or her participation in school activities.

Additional Questions?

If you would like to learn more about The Crowden School, please contact Elizabeth Tackett, Admissions Manager, at admissions@crowden.org or 510.559.6910 ext. 122.

The Crowden Music Center is a member of EBISA (East Bay Independent Schools Association) and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, age, national and ethnic origin, religion, gender identity or sexual orientation.

The Crowden School

A coeducational day school for grades 4–8, the Crowden School provides a distinguished education with chamber music at its core.

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