Who Are We?
- We are all professional theatre artists with a passion for education
- We work in different facets of musical theatre, and are specially equipped to provide our students with a knowledgeable, well-rounded, and holistic approach to interpreting song.
- We believe in teaching solid vocal technique through repertoire. When you study privately at DLC, you will add songs to your book while learning the mechanisms behind healthy vocal production
- We are performers, music directors, and/or casting professionals in addition to teachers of singing and acting. As such, we can help you prepare for your next audition regardless of where you are in your development.
Tiffany Underwood Holmes – Resident Music Director
- Who do you teach in the studio? Advanced students, TYA Professional Training Program participants, and TYA Scholars
- What do you do outside of the private studio? I music direct TYA Senior Company’s shows, handle a lot of the administration and marketing for DLC, and play keyboard for some local shows. I also run medium-to-long distances, and enjoy traveling with my family.
- What’s your favorite Broadway show and why? Once. The cast is also the orchestra. The story is compelling, the music is amazing, and it takes place in Dublin—one of my favorite cities in the world.
- What’s your favorite thing about teaching private voice? I love teaching singers how to think—how to analyze what they’re hearing and doing so that they can solve problems and make decisions outside of the lesson studio. My favorite thing about teaching is seeing a student solve a problem on their own for the first time. You really see a big “A-HA”-style shift in what they are able to accomplish inside the studio and outside after that happens.
- How long have you been teaching? I’ve been music directing theatre and teaching private voice for 12 years. Many of my students have gone on to matriculate at competitive college musical theatre programs around the country.
Dustin Merrell – Voice Instructor
- Who do you teach in the studio? I teach students of various ages who are seeking to better their technique. Sometimes we focus on a broad approach, and sometimes there are specific goals in mind. Most of my students concentrate primarily on musical theatre; whether the focus is on establishing healthy technique, building repertoire, developing audition skills, working lyrical interpretation, or preparing for college auditions, there are established end goals for every student who steps into the studio.
- What do you do outside of the private studio? I also work as a musical director, accompanist, and composer (in both educational and professional theatre). I have directed at several Howard County middle schools through DLC’s offsite production program. I have worked as musical director at Howard Community College, Imagination Stage, Atholton High School, and the Carver Center for Arts and Technology. Professionally, I have music directed for Red Branch Theatre Company numerous times, and recently served as musical director at Adventure Theatre.
- What’s your favorite Broadway show and why? Once on This Island by Flaherty and Ahrens. I belive Once on This Island is the perfect example of how effective a piece of theatre can be. The music is beautiful, and is perfectly woven into the story and characters. The show is entertaining, haunting, sad, joyful, and thought-provoking. Choosing a favorite musical is a difficult task; however I believe that few shows are as polished and well-constructed.
- What’s your favorite thing about teaching private voice? Watching students learn to problem-solve independently. One of my goals as a private instructor is to enable students to think critically, and to empower them to reflect on their training when attempting to solve a problem, or clear a hurdle. When I observe this happening in real time, I know that the training is producing results. Furthermore, I cherish every moment in which something “clicks” with a student. Improving upon this craft requires discipline, practice, and plenty of reptition. When I see a student finally understand a concept– or finally “feel” something on which we’ve been focusing – I am filled with immense joy and pride.
- How long have you been teaching? I began music directing and coaching for summer musical theatre camps about twelve years ago. I have been teaching privately for seven years.
Who Do We Teach?
- We teach students of all ages who desire to enhance their skill in singing, acting or both.
- Most of our students are passionate about learning musical theatre repertoire. Our students are often preparing for an upcoming audition or show.
- Our students are committed to working outside of the studio on the material they learn in lessons.
- Private Voice Lessons
- Private Acting Lessons
- Audition Preparation Session/Tune-Up Session (in person or via Skype)
- Audition/Callback Recording
Voice Lessons • Acting Lessons
Audition Prep • Audition/Callback Recording
Tuesdays, Thursdays: Dustin Merrell
Beginner thru Advanced Voice, Acting, Audition Prep
Mondays, Wednesdays & Fridays: Voice and Acting – by appointment
Note: Other dates/times based on instructor availability. Call for more details.
Wednesdays: Andy Clemence
Acting for TV & Film
By Special Permission and Appointment: Tiffany Underwood Holmes
Resident Music Director, Advanced Voice & Audition Prep, TYA Scholars
- Drop in Lessons: $45/half-hour, $75/hour
- Regular Students: $150/month (4 lessons) – auto-debited on the 1st of the month
- Semester Students: $420/term (13 lessons) – payable in full at the beginning of the term
- TYA Company Members will receive discounted pricing on one-hour lessons and packages.
- 1-Hour Lessons are available for Advanced Students and TYA Members only, or with instructor approval.
- A half-hour evaluation lesson can be conducted for new students who are interested in hour-long study
- *Special pricing for lessons with Andy Clemence: $85/hour, $825/10-Lesson Package
- Lessons must be scheduled through the front office and paid in full prior to the lesson.
- Students will not coordinate specific schedule concerns directly with a teacher
- Lessons must be paid in advance according to the term of the contract: monthly auto-debit, semester package, or individual lesson. Lesson time will not be held without payment.
- DLC must receive at least 24 hours’ notice prior to a cancellation/postponement in order to reschedule a lesson. Otherwise, the student will forfeit that lesson
- FOR SEMESTER PACKAGES: Student is awarded up to two makeup lessons for cancellation/postponement per 3-month window.
- Rescheduled lessons must occur prior to the package expiration date, within 15 days of the originally scheduled lesson.
- Required materials for each lesson: bottle of water, recording device, pencil and sheet music. If students do not bring their sheet music to the lesson, the instructor will work on technique FOR THAT LESSONS.
- Any video taken during lessons is for instructional purposes only and will never be used without a student’s express permission. Video footage will be provided to student upon request.
Private Lesson FAQ
Why should I take private voice lessons?
The voice is the instrument that we all have from birth. Private study can help anyone improve their voice. Along with learning correct posture, breath support, placement, and diction, private lessons will help to expand your repertoire. They help to build confidence both on and off the stage. We have also seen our private students consistently excel in the audition arena all while having a fun and informative time with our highly qualified instructors.
We believe in teaching solid, classical vocal technique through musical theatre repertoire. This simply means that you will learn the fundamentals of singing while learning songs from the musical theatre genre. Our instructors are also qualified to prepare you for auditions for competitive choirs or other vocal performance types and styles.
What does a typical voice lesson entail?
In a half-hour lesson, your instructor will take roughly the first five to seven minutes of the lesson warming your voice up with vocal exercises. After that, you can expect to run through a song you have been working on in part or in whole. This will be followed by intensive, detailed work on portions of that song. The instructor may single out issues with your diction, phrasing, placement, posture, or any other facet of your technique that can be improved.
In an hour lesson, your instructor will take roughly the first ten minutes of the lesson warming your voice up with vocal exercises. After that, you can expect to run and work through two songs in part or in whole, much in the same way as you would in a half-hour lesson.
What should I bring to my lessons?
At your first lesson, if you are getting ready for an audition, feel free to bring any music that you already have. If you are preparing a role, ask your music director for copies of the piano accompaniment to your song or purchase the sheet music for your solo songs so that we can best assist you in your lessons. Our instructors will suggest repertoire and provide music if you don’t have anything in mind, however. Your instructor will conduct an assessment of your vocal range and ear training while warming your voice up.
At all of your lessons, including the first, you should bring a bottle of water and a pencil. At subsequent lessons you should bring these items as well as a folder or binder (preferred) with all of the music you have worked on to every lesson. It is also beneficial to record your lessons in part or in whole, so bring a digital audio recorder or a cell phone with recording capabilities. Required materials for each lesson: bottle of water, recording device, pencil and sheet music. If students do not bring their sheet music to the lesson, the instructor will work on vocal technique.
How often should I have voice lessons?
We believe that virtually everyone can benefit from consistent and regular study of the voice. While we hope that most of our students will commit to scheduling weekly or semi-weekly lessons and purchase a package, we understand that some students can only take lessons to prepare for a role or an audition. We recommend that students who are taking individual lessons to prepare for an audition schedule a minimum of three half-hour or two one-hour lessons. We recommend that students who are preparing for a role and are unable to commit to a 10-lesson package schedule between four and six half-hour or two to three one-hour lessons. From our experience, we find that students have the most success and feel the best prepared after several sessions dedicated to one audition or role.
Everyone can benefit from regular voice study. Younger students should consider taking lessons every other week. More advanced students should schedule weekly lessons. Instructors will assign tangible milestones for students to work towards from lesson to lesson.
What can I expect to get out of a package of lessons?
Students can expect to learn between two to four songs through the course of a 13 half-hour lesson package. Instructors will tailor the individual pace of individual lessons as well as the package to each student. While learning songs, students will learn fundamental vocal techniques to use in the context of any song or singing experience.
How old should I be to benefit from private lessons?
Generally, our students are aged 10-adult. Students younger than age 10 can benefit from lessons to prepare them for a specific role or vocal experience. We recommend that our younger students take lessons every other week.
Should I schedule lessons with the same instructor every time?
All of our private instructors are qualified to provide you with informed, quality vocal instruction. While we believe that students will benefit the most from the continuity of study that comes with taking lessons with the same instructor over a period of time, it does not hurt to get a fresh perspective from time to time as well. With that being said, please do not hesitate to take an occasional lesson with a different instructor at Drama Learning Center if your schedule changes sporadically. Our instructors also serve as substitutes for one another, so if a teacher is unable to make a lesson one week, you may work with one of our other highly qualified instructors on an intermittent basis.
Should I schedule a half-hour lesson or an hour lesson?
A half-hour lesson is suitable for students of all levels who are taking consistent weekly study. Hour lessons are designed for advanced students who need to build repertoire more quickly and/or work on more detailed technical components in their voice. This is why we require instructor approval for students interested in taking hour-long lessons. Exceptions will be made for students preparing for a role in shorter periods of time on a case-by-case basis. Students choosing to focus on both voice and acting should plan to work each component in separate lessons unless they are enrolled in hour-long lessons.
Should I bring songs that I already know or have worked on in the past?
If you are preparing for a role and you already know the music, bring it. Remember, though, that old habits are hard to break. New technique is best learned through new repertoire. After some time of consistent study and established good technique, then it is possible to go back to old repertoire with less risk of jeopardizing all of the hard work you have been doing.
How do I schedule lessons?
Lessons can only be scheduled through the main DLC office by calling 410-849-6335 or emailing DLC@dramalearningcenter.com. Though Instructors can let you know their availability they do not schedule their own lessons. Please note that we can only guarantee lessons slots if payment has been received. Unused lessons in a package expire after six months.
What if I need to cancel or reschedule a lesson?
DLC requires no less than 24 hours notice for any lessons that need to be cancelled or rescheduled otherwise the full amount of the lesson will be charged. You may cancel or reschedule lessons by calling 410-849-6335 or emailing DLC@dramalearningcenter.com. Even if you let your instructor know you need to change a lesson, you must communicate this directly with the office. If an instructor needs to unexpectedly reschedule a lesson, the office will get in touch with you as soon as possible.
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