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Music Composition Instruction & Tutoring



Online Instruction Available!

Introduction to Classical Music Theory

Common Practice Harmony through Contemporary Harmonic Practice

Counterpoint (tonal, modal, serial)

Structure, Musical Development & Variation

Score Analysis

Software Synthesis

Electronic Music Production

MIDI Sequencing

Digital Orchestration

Free Improvisation (keyboard)


I have studied privately with composers and musicians in Los Angeles and San Francisco and also have a Bachelor of Music degree in classical music theory & composition from San Francisco State University.  My experience includes decades of playing, writing and recording music for video and film, television, multimedia, computer games, dance/performance and compact discs.  I've  been involved with electronic music production and MIDI sequencing since 1983. My studio is in San Francisco, California. 

My students work with study scores, classical theory books, hands-on demonstration, and practice and repetition in the context of exercises, composition, analysis and listening to recordings. My goal is to help others develop their composition and/or music production craft to their highest potential. I work best with students who have a broad range of musical taste that includes classical and contemporary classical music.
I have taught professional instrumentalists, composers who've gone on to score feature films, musicals and games, songwriters and recording artists, young composers, amateurs and retired people. 

Comments from Students:

I studied with Jerry for 3 years. We went over the entire Piston's book on Harmony, then Kennan’s counterpoint and finally XXth century music by Kostka. I am in my mid-40s and have played music for over 35 years, mostly performing double bass in jazz combos and local symphonies. Also, I am a software engineer and have limited time to waste when I am not working. In fact that was why I contacted Jerry in the first place. Having less time to perform I still wanted to be involved and music and wanted to deepen my understanding of music in order to focus on composing.  Although I had a good grasp of jazz harmony, I always felt I needed a deeper and more formal approach to theory and composition. I found Jerry on Craigslist and we met every week, mostly at his studio. But also Jerry was kind enough to accommodate my busy schedule and do several sessions over Google Hangouts. Meeting at his studio was always a treat. Not only because Jerry is a great music educator and was always very patient with my homework, but also because I learned tremendously about myself and my approach to music while we had impromptu conversations about music and life. Jerry always sprinkled musical wisdoms, but also brought up how music relates to life and people in general. Those conversations were of incredible value to me. They allowed me to understand why I had some blockages about music and also how music had its own will. Finally realizing that I was just there to find my voice and express myself through music. Jerry always had very encouraging words and I had a lot of fun doing the homework (I do recommend to meet once a week in order to stay in that zone). In the end, I am extremely grateful to have met Jerry, his teachings went beyond music theory and history to me and I encourage anyone interested in getting into composition to consider Jerry for their journey.  Thank you very much Jerry!

Antony Bichon

When I found Jerry's website, I was pretty sure I was seeing an oasis. A lifetime professional composer who also teaches privately? Usually it's one or the other. After listening to his 8th symphony and being absolutely floored by the beauty and intricacy, I immediately contacted him and started taking lessons two weeks later. Although I've been a musician for 15 years, I started lessons with about 2 months of prior music theory knowledge, mainly through a book I found at the library. Jerry was very accommodating and was sure to go as slow as I needed (which was pretty slow in the beginning). Two years later, I am now writing my own pieces and learning to discover my own inner voice. I went from being afraid of notes past the bar line, to reading and studying orchestral scores for fun! If you are serious about wanting to learn more about composition, or even just to learn more about music to become a better performer, there is no better option.

Travis Alexander Software Designer


I have had the privilege to complete the harmony and counterpoint courses with Jerry. It has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life! Jerry is an outstanding composer, an amazing teacher and a wonderful human being. Working with him is demanding but incredibly gratifying. He provided me with the right tools to write better music and to appreciate more the music written by others. If you are serious about taking composition lessons, then LOOK NO FURTHER!!! With a great dose of professionalism, a systematic and perfectly organized approach, and a genuine support to developing your own style, Jerry will truly make you the best composer you can possibly be.

Muller Fabbri, MD, PhD Assistant Professor of Pediatrics and Molecular Microbiology & Immunology Children's Hospital Los Angeles University of Southern California


I am a professional musician living and working in New York City. I have studied Baroque counterpoint with Jerry Gerber from September of 2015 to the present, and in that time, I have experienced nothing below the quality of what one comes to expect from a superb teacher. Not only is Jerry steeped in and deeply knowledgeable about the art of counterpoint and composition, but the enthusiasm he brings to the craft of teaching is such that feels his enthusiasm even from a computer screen. A champion of his own students to a fault, Jerry exhibits great patience and insight in helping his students not only master the material, but encourages each one of them to find their own creative voice within the medium in the process. The knowledge and tools I have taken from Jerry are invaluable and I would recommend him as teacher to any passionate music student of any level of experience.

Jesse Featherstone


Jerry's the real deal -- a rare opportunity to study music theory and also MIDI techniques with a practicing composer who is also a kind, well-organized teacher. I particularly appreciate the chance to learn from Jerry's experience composing and producing his work using a variety of synthesized sounds and sample libraries. Jerry always provides plenty of interesting things to read and practice, and gives you room to work through the material at your own pace. I'd definitely recommend him if you'd like to delve into musical mechanics or build skill in MIDI composing and recording.

Shawne Workman  


I highly recommend Jerry Gerber for your compositional training needs. He will patiently walk you through all the building blocks of classical theory, through extensive examples from the masters like Bach and Beethoven, and help you hone your skills via exercises that force you to build on all previously acquired insights. He is also a wealth of knowledge with ear training, computerized scoring, and midi arranging for digital orchestration, and can quickly get you up to speed in 21st century music production.

Paul Kelley


Jerry Gerber is an excellent teacher! He creates a very structured curriculum while also maintaining a flexibility that's custom made for the student and his/her specific interests- from general music theory to electronic production.  I felt challenged and accountable for my work, which kept me moving forward with my goals. Jerry also offers a professional's perspective on music and music industries, while also providing much needed motivation and the important reminder to love what you're doing first.  I couldn't have progressed so quickly if it wasn't for Jerry's focus and insight.  I strongly recommend him as a teacher for beginners or for those who just want to delve even deeper into music.

Derek Schmidt


On the topic of music instructors, Jerry Gerber is a goldmine of a "find".  The reasons are many. First of all, he's a great composer in itself. We have all heard about how those who can't do something simply teach it. Well, Jerry can and does, and he does it very well: he composes music, and he teaches.  I had thought for some years about attending grad school, having already earned a Bachelors of Music degree.  But the masters degree programs were either out-of-state or prohibitively expensive. In music, what is needed if you want to be a better musician, is to have the knowledge and skill to actually compose or perform music.  A degree looks good on a resume, and there are many great benefits for participating in a program like that.  But where budget is concerned,  I realized that if I simply looked at the course work required in a typical degree program, I could tailor a program for myself by studying some of the subjects privately. My challenge for about a year, was to find an instructor that not only was well versed in technology and MIDI orchestration, but also possessed the skills and talents of traditional composition.  In my search for a private teacher, I also needed the individual to have not only technology as a strength, traditional chops, but I had to like their musical compositions.  Jerry has a very modern style in his own music, which also utilizes skills in traditional orchestration and in the underlying compositional structure. Finding an individual like this who also teaches was a very lucky find, I feel. Jerry has a way of balancing an approach to music which encompasses traditional structural considerations as well as the art of music making itself.  This really has helped me, and in the end, he has taught me to trust my ear in addition to applying skill.  I studied counterpoint with him for one year, and plan to study orchestration following this. He is very focused and really knows how to get you from point A to point Z by helping you work through the steps in-between, where each exercise is truly relevant to building confidence and skill. When I began the counterpoint studies with him, he stated that I would be writing a fugue.  When he said that, in my mind i was thinking, "Well, it sounds nice but I have NO idea how I will be pulling that off. ".  Well recently I completed a three-part Fugue and I felt well-prepared and comfortable in completing this piece, thanks to Jerry. I can't say enough about Jerry Gerber as a music instructor.  Whether it's counterpoint, composition, orchestration, ear training, harmony or the philosophy of music, he is an amazing individual and a great teacher.

Patricia B.


Jerry Gerber's specialties set him apart from any other private study teacher that I have come to find in the state of California. My short yet productive time with Jerry thus far has opened my eyes towards a clearer path of becoming a serious composer/musician. Over this past summer, I commuted three hours every other week to receive two-hour lessons in regards to 20th Century Theory/Composition and MIDI sequencing. The element that is so remarkable about Jerry's lessons is his ability to render a lesson not only in regards to what we think of as the discipline of music, but more so through a holistic spectrum of subjects. Touching on factors that contribute towards making us more wholesome musicians, Jerry implements topics such as the art in technology, the science of sound, and historical relevance in the emotions we feel from a score. Undoubtedly, the benefits from private studies can really blossom with such a sensitive approach. If you are looking for maximum depth, breadth, and to develop as a composer, look no further. Gerber is not only a versatile professional, but also a knowledgeable musician, tasteful composer, and effective teacher.

Bronson Buskett


I received lessons in composition and theory from Jerry during an extremely difficult time in my life. Jerry’s patience, expertise, skill, compassion, and verve for authenticity in life continually remind me why I am compelled to write; to make meaning of these experiences that are hardest to bear. Through Jerry's teachings, I have re-awakened to express musically what, for me, words never could.  With each concept, Jerry's instruction and extensive knowledge of music helped me to develop a personal connection to the historical context within which it arose, often leaving me simultaneously humbled and inspired to be a part of this great tradition. Furthermore, Jerry privileges my own subjective ear as a composer. Such practice in non-conformity has given me the freedom to explore new ideas and the encouraging support to discover my own personal style, free of biased judgment. Lessons with Jerry have had an astounding influence on my musical sense, ability, and appreciation. Moreover, his teachings have significantly shaped my overall attitude towards composition, furthering my exploration of the personal and historical meaning that music itself gives to life.

Sekayi Edwards


Jerry Gerber is a great music teacher who inspires me to learn. His unlimited patience and broad knowledge make the lessons interesting (I learn something new every time). He teaches me with a systematic method, but bases the lessons on my own pace and gives me homework to make sure I completely understand everything he has taught. I’m so happy to have Jerry as my composition teacher. His teaching is terrific and efficient. I definitely recommend Jerry Gerber as a music teacher who has offered me a new and fantastic learning experience.

Joe Lin, 14


I've been with Jerry for the better part of a year and he's been a great teacher. He plays all kinds of styles and is very knowledgeable about everything from structured counterpoint to free-form improvisation. You can go at your own pace and focus on anything you really want to dive into. He's also been helping me with my piano technique. I definitely recommend Jerry!

 Amy Lee


Jerry Gerber possesses that rare combination of technical and musical knowledge together with the ability to organize and communicate it clearly to the student.  I sought Jerry out because I wanted to improve my understanding of the challenges of orchestration for virtual instruments.  He not only helped me to more clearly understand and how to get the best out of these remarkable but complex tools, he also was able to draw on his considerable background in acoustic composition to help me expand my understanding of traditional orchestration and form, both areas in which I have had a life long interest.  Jerry is a man who definitely enjoys observing the progress his students make and will certainly expand your musical and technical horizons. Whether your interests involve principles of MIDI, composition, orchestration, analysis, notation or a combination of these disciplines, Jerry Gerber will definitely help you to become a more well rounded musician.

Kevin Kern--Steinway artist with 7 Billboard charting CDs. For more information visit www.kevinkern.com


Jerry Gerber is a composer of the first order who, fortunately for us is willing to take on students.  I have had the good fortune to study with Jerry for two years. The lessons have been weekly and are 'one on one.'  In the beginning, I had a burning desire to write music but only a limited knowledge of music theory. During the prior two years we have covered traditional 4 part harmony, counterpoint, and modern harmony.  The lessons have included ear training with instruction in music notation software.  With the aid of Jerry's infinite patience and encouragement, I have written several chorals, multiple two part inventions and synthetic scale pieces. I have also composed a 12 tone piece and 1 and 1/2 fugues (number 2 is a work in progress). Jerry Gerber is an authority on electronic music.  With his input and assistance, I have been able to develop a small studio of my own. For those interested in music composition, harmony, counterpoint, orchestration and all things related to music, Jerry is recommended without reservation.

Stephen E Conrad, MD

Phone:  415.242.4003

Frequently Asked Questions

A Brief Philosophy of Teaching Music Composition & Production

Questions for Young Composers

List of Recommended Books

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