I play all members of the clarinet family (Eb - bass), the saxophone family (soprano - baritone), and the flute family (piccolo - bass). I also play the recorders (sopranino - tenor), Chinese dizi and Indian bansuri, pan flute, and penny whistles.
I began playing clarinet in the 4th grade and have been playing–and adding instruments–ever since. I majored in music performance at San Francisco State University (magna cum laude) under the tutelage of Don Carroll (clarinet), Paul Renzi (flute), and Jim Matheson (sax)–members of the San Francisco Symphony and San Francisco Opera.
I have been playing professionally since the 1970s. I am fully comfortable in the classical, jazz, pop, rock, Latin, and musical theater genres.
Here's a September 2020 release of the Gershwin classic, "Summertime", with me playing flute, alto flute, bass flute, and alto sax.
L-R: bass clarinet, A and B-flat clarinets, E-flat clarinet
L-R: alto, tenor, soprano, and baritone saxophones
"A great teacher and musician who always gives context and depth behind the music being practiced. Very encouraging and always helps to practice and sharpen students' skills."--Maxim H. (sax student)
"Nick is intuitive and insightful to meet my needs as a student, honing the lessons and drilling down to the foundation of my music. He is attuned to the multifaceted layers of our existence, making music, and music education, rich." -- Kathryn M. (Tunelark flute student)
“A very, very patient teacher that has a desire to help people learn. He uses very easy to understand explanations and analogies whether teaching to play the instrument, or just encouragement when a student needs it.”
--Sekan W. (clarinet student)
“Knowledgeable and personable instructor who works to tailor lessons to the individual student.” --Carol R. (flute student)
I have been teaching private lessons on sax, clarinet, and flute since the 1980s. Typical students range from the 4th grade through retirees–beginners, hobbyists, and those wishing to gain a competitive edge. Lessons are one-on-one and geared toward the student’s specific goals combined with traditional instruction and music theory, as applicable.
Lessons are taught out of the Sunset Music store, at my residence in the Central Sunset district of San Francisco, or virtually. 30 Minutes, 45 minutes, or 60 minutes. Please contact me for my rates.
“A master musician who teaches the simple and sublime. Personable, trustworthy and reliable. True to his word.”
--R. Low (clarinet student)
“Lessons with Nick are always very insightful. I’ve undoubtedly learned more from our few short lessons than I have in two years of school jazz band. I would highly recommend lessons with Nick to any aspiring or advanced musician who hopes to increase their skill level with an incredibly knowledgeable and skilled teacher.”
-- Talia H. (Tunelark sax student)
"Nick DiScala is an excellent clarinet instructor...he is personable and easy to talk with and ask questions. He knows how to express what the student needs to do. Taking lessons from Nick has been extremely rewarding and fun. I'm 74 years old, and I last played seriously 56 years ago."
-- Ray D. (Tunelark clarinet student)
music direction / conducting
I began conducting studies when I was an undergraduate at San Francisco State University. I was quickly made the student assistant for the orchestra, as well as the Symphonic Wind Ensemble–under Louis Magor of the San Francisco Symphony Chorus, and Lazlo Varga of the New York Philharmonic, respectively. I was the first student to conduct the entire 1980 graduation ceremony.
After graduating, I studied for several years with David Ramadanoff, Assistant Conductor of the San Francisco Symphony.
Along the way, I have served as Music Director or conducted many shows with regional music theater companies, universities, and with the Berkeley Opera (now ‘West Edge Opera’). I was the Resident Music Director at Peninsula Civic Light Opera (now ‘Broadway by the Bay’), and at The Willows Theater in Concord, California. I also served as Assistant Music Director for many shows at Tony award recipient TheatreWorks in Palo Alto.
Christiane Noll "I Can Cook, Too" (Carnegie Hall 2008)
Harp quintet arrangements
Since the Fall of 2019 I have been serving as adjunct woodwind clinician at San Mateo High School working with the concert and jazz bands.
Also, as part of my ongoing involvement with the Don Ellis estate, I have served as guest conductor, clinician, and advisor for groups performing the music of Don’s jazz orchestra. Both in person and virtually.