Janak Ramachandran, Your Music Lesson Guru

Janak in Play guitar Magazine

Janak Ramachandran in Play Guitar Magazine and performing at the Great American Music Hall.

Janak Ramachandran, an accomplished frontman vocalist and instrumentalist, began his performing career as a child crooning carols. He studied classical piano and violin while growing up in the Bay Area and nurtured his singing interest through much of his teen years. His first performances in college at parties and in clubs were received with enough appreciation to fuel a more passionate pursuit of music. Several more years passed before Janak awoke to an epiphany: “I’d rather starve as an artist than be wildly successful as a businessman/salesman” (Janak has a background in sales, marketing, fundraising, and training).

During the ensuing months, Janak handed his life over to music, acting, and writing (having studied philosophy at UC Berkeley, he has a continuing passion for social, political, economic, and philosophical issues). After some searching, Janak found a musical home as a student at Blue Bear where he began his first formal training in voice, guitar, bass, piano, songwriting, and music theory. The incredible quality of the teachers, the warm and friendly ambience, and the economy of the pricing (hey, if you’re gonna starve…) were strong draws for Janak.

Participation in Blue Bear’s band workshops led to some key musical relationships that launched over four years of successful gigging in and around the Bay Area with the bands Mojo Bug and Fling! While fronting and managing the two bands, Janak’s reputation for producing authentic hard rock vocals earned Fling! the distinction of being chosen by 107.7 The Bone radio station to play gigs for their sponsored events in the Bay Area. Most recently, Janak was the frontman for Bottoms Up! The band was the top cover band in a California battle of the bands competition and has regularly played a number of local venues including Bottom of the Hill, Cafe Du Nord, The Elbo Room, and The Great American Music Hall.

Janak has also pursued formal acting training (initially to perfect his work as a frontman) and finds periodic work in dramatic, comic, modeling, and musical productions (one highlight was being Joseph in a production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat that grossed ten times the theatre company average and another was an opportunity to work with Francis Ford Coppola during pre-production film work). To solidify his knowledge and understanding of the music industry’s recording processes and business practices, Janak spent two years in SFSU’s Music and Recording Industry Program (from which he graduated in 2002).

Almost five years to the day that Janak walked into Blue Bear for his student interview with Program Director Dennis Criteser, Blue Bear offered Janak his first teaching position (a seminar in pop/rock vocal style). Within several months, his teaching niche in vocal style had expanded to include classes and private instruction in voice, guitar, bass, music theory, and songwriting (all of which he had been teaching privately for a couple of years before joining Blue Bear). Having rekindled an interest in his first childhood instrument, Janak now also offers piano instruction at Blue Bear. In 2010, Janak became one of only five teachers in the 43 year history of Blue Bear to be awarded Blue Bear’s outstanding faculty award.  More recently, he was honored with the Blue Bear award for most popular teacher (measured as most lessons booked).

Janak’s primary exposure and work has been in rock (including hard rock and alternative rock) and pop with additional work in blues, jazz, punk, R&B, and rap/hip-hop. Artists and bands he has worked with include Tainted Love, the children of Todd Rundgren and Linda Ronstadt, and Johnny Nitro and the Doorslammers (Burt Winn, singing bass player extraordinaire, whose wife Lynn exclaims that Burt’s singing lessons are “the best money we’ve ever spent”). Janak is a firm believer that teaching is less a function of telling students what to do and more a journey of coaching that inner rock star to self-inspired creative expression. “Motivating encouragement, concrete guidance, and playful musicality are the primary ways of being I want to bring to coaching students.” Currently, in addition to his work as a Blue Bear teacher, Janak Ramachandran is composing and recording original material as well as writing for local publications, blogs, and the like.