Musical life is flourishing at EBGIS! Our growing Music Department is creating new opportunities both in the EBGIS music curriculum as well as co-curricular and for extracurricular activities for our students. Add to that soon-to-resume live musical performances by both students and acclaimed artists and the on-campus presence of the San Francisco Girls' Chorus, and it's clear that EBGIS is on its way to becoming a lively hub for musical culture in the East Bay.

Music is an important part of the EBGIS curriculum from Preschool through High School. Our purposeful, project-based music curriculum brings musical experiences to students that develop creativity, give possibilities for self-expression and help them understand music as communication. EBGIS students gain meaningful exposure to music from a wide spectrum of cultures and historical contexts; are introduced to formal music theory, notation, and terminology; create and perform songs and instrumental music; and combine music and movement for self-expression. Our curriculum draws on both acoustic and digital music and explores their intersection. Our older Elementary School students learn to read musical notation and implement their note-reading skills playing the xylophone, recorder or string instrument. Middle and High School students survey musical cultures and styles, keep a music-listening journal and are guided to create and perform their own compositions.

Co-curricular and extra-curricular offerings enhance our in-class music program. This year, for example, we are partnering with the Ecole Bilingue in a joint performance of French and German songs later this spring. We are also proud to offer a growing number of options for on-campus music lessons after school. These include piano, violin, cello, saxophone, clarinet, flute and guitar. Of course, our beloved school Rock Band “E-Town” gives our Middle and High School students the chance to express themselves, loudly! And we are delighted that an EBGIS Choir, Orchestra and Jazz Band are in the works for next year. 

The EBGIS Music Department continues to grow with the addition of outstanding professional musicians dedicated to sharing their passion for music with our students. Our program is further enriched by the participation of accomplished members of the musical community. Below you will find short introductions to our new and existing faculty as well as our extracurricular and private lesson teachers.

EBGIS Music Faculty

Emily Rubis

teaches music in the Elementary and Middle Schools. She holds bachelors and masters degrees in piano performance from San Francisco State University and a masters degree in musicology from the Humboldt University in Berlin, Germany. She has performed and taught piano for fifteen years, and more recently has worked as a freelance translator in German music publishing. In the classroom, Emily takes great pleasure in teaching students to read and play from musical notation and helping them think creatively and critically about the music they listen to in class, while also implementing projects that give students meaningful musical experiences. Emily also offers private piano lessons.

Olivia Kistler

teaches music in the Elementary School as well as the after-school drama class. Olivia brings music from a variety of genres and cultures to her teaching. She engages children in music with a joyful approach incorporating games, singing, dancing, and playing rhythm instruments. Olivia plays piano, guitar, and recorder. Before becoming a teacher, Olivia organized and accompanied group trips to opera and concert houses around the world.

Theresa Wong

teaches Middle and High School music. She is a composer, cellist, and vocalist whose work explores the intersection of music, experimentation, improvisation, and the synergy of multiple disciplines. Her works include As We Breathe, an installed song commissioned by the Long Beach Opera for the 2020 Songbook; In Stillness I Sing for the San Francisco Girls Chorus and pianist Sarah Cahill premiering in March 2022; and Harbors, co-composed with Long String Instrument inventor Ellen Fullman and chosen as one of Wire Magazine’s top 50 releases of 2020. She lived for years in Austria, Germany, and Italy and looks forward to sharing her passion for creative music making with the EBGIS school community. Visit her website at

Thea Farhadian

is a violinist and sound artist with more than twenty-five years experience teaching students of all ages. Thea's specialties include performance in classical, improvisational, and electronic music. Her teaching is rooted in classical music and focused on making music in a creative, relaxed way. Thea holds an MFA in music from Mills College; an MA in Interdisciplinary Arts from San Francisco State University, and a California State Teaching Credential. Thea is currently offering private violin lessons and will later teach music in the Elementary School as well as offering group classes in traditional and experimental music. Thea is from the Bay Area and has lived and performed in Berlin, Germany. Visit her website at

EBGIS Enrichment Class and On-Campus Private Lesson Teachers

Jane Lee

is a cellist and orchestra coach. She studied cello pedagogy with Milly Rosner and Irene Sharp and has taught cello for twenty years. She enjoys developing her students’ musicianship and also serves as a chamber music coach. Jane holds a bachelor’s degree from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music and has performed with the Berkeley Symphony, Oakland Symphony, and Vallejo Symphony, among others. She is a cello coach at the Berkeley Youth Orchestra and has a private cello studio in Berkeley. Jane offers private cello lessons and can eventually coach an EBGIS orchestra.

Phillip Greenlief

is a saxophonist and composer who has received international acclaim for his recordings and performances with musicians and composers in the post-jazz continuum as well as new music innovators and virtuosic improvisers. He has performed with Wadada Leo Smith, Meredith Monk, Rashaun Mitchell and They Might Be Giants. Philip's albums include Lantskap Logic, That Overt Desire of Object, All at Once, and Oh That Monster. Recent residencies include the Banff Center for Art and Creativity, Neue Musik Köln, and Headlands Center for the Arts. Phillip's critical writing has been published in Artforum, Open Space (SF MOMA), and Signal to Noise. Phillip currently offers private lessons in saxophone, clarinet and flute, and is looking forward to eventually lead an EBGIS Jazz Band.

Franklin Brown

is the Office Manager at EBGIS and has taught piano since 2019. He began studying piano at age six and is both self-taught and classically trained. Franklin studied under Alina Polyakov of the Boston Symphony and has since continued to pursue his interests in late Romantic and contemporary minimalist music. Franklin holds a degree in Linguistics and German from Gordon College in Wenham, Massachusetts and a masters degree in Linguistics from the University of Edinburgh in Scotland. Franklin is offering private piano lessons.

Michelle Dannemann

is a teaching intern from Germany. She has played guitar and piano from a young age and is versed in the Suzuki piano method. Michelle loves sharing her passion for music with children. She is offering piano and guitar lessons (Spring 2022 only).

Sami Qreini

is the parent of an EBGIS eighth grader and teaches the after school Rock Band class. Sami has been making music since childhood. He has played drums in several bands and delights in making the Rock Band class a space for individual and collective self-expression. For Sami, the talent and enthusiasm the students bring to the creative process, and the sense of identity that this can give, is the source of immense joy.