The purpose of the Freight & Salvage Education Department is to deliver world class, hands-on programming which explores the richness of traditional music from around the world and the power of making music in community.
We are proud to recognize the richness of music from global traditions in our 300+ concerts every year, and our education programming continues that mission with a wide array of programming. Our brand new middle school outreach program, PLAYING WITH TRADITION, illuminates the historical context, cultural roots, and expressive power of varying musical traditions and gives students a chance to jumpstart their creativity with newly acquired musical skills. In addition to this new program, our long-running evening and weekend classes, workshops and jams continue to be an important part of the Bay Area’s vibrant old-time, bluegrass, and roots scenes.  More recent offerings like the Freight Singers Community Chorus are also still going strong, and our Fiddlekids summer camp is about to enter its 22nd annual season. We believe there’s room for all of this, and more. In an age when extremists exploit differing cultural perspectives as a way of “othering” people and justifying exclusivity, we’re going the other way. It’s not always easy, and we’re okay with that.
It’s our tradition.



Believe it or not, we are currently at a time in musical history when ostensibly “new” music genres like hip-hop and disco are roughly the same age as skiffle and bluegrass were when the original Freight & Salvage Coffeehouse was founded. Both disco and hip-hop have deep roots in the Bay Area and many local musicians helped establish those genres as veritable traditions onto themselves. Along with that, many more traditions from around the world have made their way here via new immigrants and the subsequent cultural cross-pollination. The Freight’s take on all these changes and the resulting inclusive definition of “tradition” is simple: it’s a good thing.

It’s a good thing because being around a multiplicity of traditions gives us an opportunity to engage with each other in real life, instead of isolating ourselves in our silos of private preferences. Engaging meaningfully with each other can spark conversation, dispel common misperceptions, and open us up to deeper understanding. Inclusivity strengthens our already-strong community, and it allows us to play with the idea of “tradition”.

PLAYING WITH TRADITION is the name of Freight & Salvage’s new education initiative, which leads middle school students through a series of immersive visits from our teaching artists. Each series illuminates the historical context, cultural roots, and expressive power of music from a distinct tradition and demonstrates how seemingly disparate traditions can work together to make unique new sounds and collaborate across cultures. The curriculum aligns with both the 6th Grade California Arts Standards (Music) and the 6th Grade California Common Core English/Language Arts Standards. The 2019 season of PLAYING WITH TRADITION is being taught by Dr. Rohan Krishnamurthy (Traditional Indian Vocal Percussion), Jim Santi Owen (Traditional Indian Vocal Percussion, Body Percussion) and Najee Amaranth (History of Hip-Hop/Art of Rapping). The Spring 2020 season, which focuses on collaborations between poets and musicians, is being taught by slam poet Jamey Williams with guest appearances by a wide array of musicians, including jazz guitarist Karl Evangelista and Hannah Mayree of the Black Banjo Reclamation Project. The program uses contemporary music as the doorway through which young people can identify connections with other styles, genres, musical eras, and cultures.


Contact Director of Education & Community Engagement PC Muñoz here if you are interested in bringing a PLAYING WITH TRADITION program to your middle school.

Fiddlekids was founded by Bay Area fiddle player and educator Bobbi Nikles in 1997. Now in its twenty-second year, Fiddlekids is a unique, fun-filled summer day camp devoted to traditional fiddle music. We welcome young violinists and fiddlers, ages 7 to 14, with at least one year of violin playing experience. No previous fiddle knowledge is required. Camp is divided into skill-based groups of roughly 15 fiddlers. Students attend classes with three of the camp’s fiddle instructors and learn a wide range of traditional styles — this year’s teachers specialize in Old Time, Regional Mexican, Irish, Jazz, Latin, Cajun-Creole and Hillbilly Rags. Students also explore the music through daily art and dance classes. Boasting an experienced teaching staff and a wonderfully supportive atmosphere, Fiddlekids has introduced hundreds of youngsters to a lively and expansive fiddle repertoire. We’ve inspired many of our alumni to enjoy a life-long relationship with their instrument, traditional fiddle music, and folk music culture.
Our 6-week courses are taught year-round and nearly every day of the week by some of the finest instructors in the Bay Area. Register early to receive the $10 early bird discount.
For those already fluent in an instrument, our workshops give you a chance to hone your craft and play with others.
For those already fluent in an instrument, the Freight’s jams give you a chance to hone your craft and play with others. Ongoing jams include blues, old time, swing and bluegrass.
Pop in for our family-friendly singalong, Freightertots, with our host Clyde Leland.

Insightful conversations with featured artists right on the Freight stage, open to all ticketholders.
11/12/19, 7:15-7:45, Aireene Espiritu discusses A Color Coded Symphony
12/30/19, 7:15-7:45 – Vienna Teng discusses songwriting

The Freight Singers is a new community chorus based at the Freight and Salvage, led by Zoe Ellis and Bryan Dyer. The chorus will introduce singers to music from a variety of cultures inside the U.S. and around the world with an emphasis on traditional/roots music. Participants will learn about the historical and cultural context of the music, as well as the style and technique, including basic body music techniques.

There are no auditions, but singers will be asked to participate in a brief assessment with chorus directors. Singers should be able to sing on pitch and hold a part. Ability to read music is not required. Singers should be at least 14 years old.