Guitar San Francisco

What's for lunch? Brain food

Educate your mind during the lunch hour with lunchtime classes

By Judy Hevrdejs, Tribune newspapers
October 3, 2011

Now that you've made it through the annual August-September drumbeat of back-to-school madness, pause a moment and think about your own education. Maybe you should use your lunch break and treat yourself to some "brain food."

Taking a break midday to pursue a passion - admit it, you haven't touched that Fender you got a couple years ago - might give you the energy to power through the afternoon. A wide variety of organizations, from yoga studios and language institutes to cultural institutions, gear programs to the lunch-hour crowd. And crowds they get.

Some free noon-hour concerts at the Chicago Cultural Center pull in hundreds of aficionados, while others are drawn to the University of Chicago's First Friday Lectures (think: "Sense and Sensibility in The Age of Technology: Will Jane Austen Survive?") held in the Cultural Center's Claudia Cassidy Theater.

The Art Institute of Chicago runs a regular midday schedule of talks. The 30-minute sessions dubbed "Express Talk" (i.e. Chinese Bronzes) "Are bite size, fun and easy to understand," says Chai Lee of the Art Institute, which also runs hourlong "Gallery Talks."

The majority of students who show up at Jim Lenger's Guitar Chicago come for the guitar lessons. "Some 95 percent of the students are adults from the Loop and financial district," says Lenger, who comes from a family of instructors and musicians. "A number have never picked up and instrument. Others are brushing up for auditions." Lenger, who started Guitar Chicago in 2006, says two-thirds of his students come for guitar lessons, the rest for drum and piano lessons.

So step away from your cubicle, feed a passion, learn something - to speak Italian or Spanish before a trip abroad or rumba or hustle or fox trot better than the folks on "Dancing With the Stars". Here are a few places to get you started. Prices will vary, so will topics and times.

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