Private Instruction

New offerings in
Voice • Acting • Audition Prep

 

Our Instructors
Click on an instructor for bio information.

Mondays:

Erin Kauffman
Beginner thru Advanced Voice, Audition Prep, Acting

Devron Young
Audition Prep, Acting

Tuesdays:

Dustin Merrell
Beginner thru Advanced Voice, Audition Prep, Acting

Wednesdays:

Tiffany Underwood Holmes
Resident Music Director, Intermediate & Advanced Voice, Audition Prep

Thursdays:

Dustin Merrell
Beginner thru Advanced Voice, Audition Prep, Acting

Note: Other dates/times based on instructor availability. Please call for details.

Curriculum Goals

• Establishing age appropriate varied repertoire
• Executing proper vocal and breathing technique
• Displaying consistency of character throughout song and/or monologue
• Learning proper audition etiquette, assisting with role/show preparation (where applicable) 

Pricing

• Drop in Lessons: $40/half-hour, $70/hour

• 10-Lesson Packages: $35/half-hour, $65/hour. Packages must be paid in full prior to the first lesson to receive package pricing.

• 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.

Policies

• Lessons must be scheduled through the front office and paid in full prior to the lesson.

• DLC must receive at least 24 hours notice in order to reschedule a lesson.

• Package lessons must occur prior to the expiration date of the package (six months from the date of the
first lesson).

• 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 vocal technique.

Tiffany Underwood Holmes originally hails from Clarksville, Maryland. She has music directed prolifically throughout the Baltimore/Washington Metropolitan area since completing studies in music with a concentration in voice at Towson University. Recent credits include A Chorus Line, The Who's TOMMY, Carmen Jones, Tim Rice & Elton John's Aida, Disney's High School Musical, Smoky Joe's Cafe and many others. Equally as comfortable onstage, favorite performances include Hair (Dionne), Beehive (Patti Labelle/Aretha Franklin/others), and The Magic Flute (Second Lady). She made her Meyerhoff Symphony Hall debut with the Towson University Chorale alongside Robert Goulet and Shirley Jones in 2004. Mrs. Holmes currently resides in Baltimore with her husband Stephen and daughter Imogen. She is proud to be the music director for Teaching Young Actors, DLC’s teen professional company, and the managing director of Red Branch Theatre Company.

Having studied musical theatre, classical, and jazz with performers at the top of their fields, Tiffany is equally comfortable teaching classical voice, musical theatre, and other commercial styles. However, coming from the belief that singers on the operatic stage use the same technique as those with careers in theatre, she approaches her training from a classical standpoint. She instills solid vocal technique in her students through varied repertoire with the objective of preparing them to become well-rounded performers.

 

Devron Young hails from Baltimore, Maryland and currently resides in Columbia. Devron was bitten by the performance “bug” at a very young age. He went on to participate, compete and win several acting, speech and dramatic reading contests throughout Maryland. One of his favorite prizes was winning a full scholarship to The Arena Players Youtheatre Summer Program. His numerous performance credits include Joe Turners Come and Gone with Jada Pinkett Smith (Center Stage)  Eubie! (Olney Theatre), Once On This Island (Arena Players), Much Ado About Nothing (Theatre on the Green), The Color Purple (Toby’s Dinner Theatre), and One Bad Apple (Arena Stage).

Devron is an NAACP Gold Medalist in Theatre as was awarded a Presidential Scholarship under the Clinton Administration. Devron was a member of National Players 49th Tour having performed in The Taming of The Shrew and Of Mice and Men. Devron is a proud graduate of The Baltimore School for the Arts and The University of Maryland at College Park. His directing credits include RENT at The University of Maryland at College Park, Ain’t Misbehavin at Olney Theatre, Once On This Island at Montgomery College, and Seussical The Musical with Drama Learning Center. Devron is a proud member of The Actor's Equity Association.

 

Dustin Merrell has been working with performers in the Columbia area for several years, with a primary focus in music directing. He is a Red Branch Theatre Company member, and has music directed RBTC’s Once On This Island (2011), Schoolhouse Rock (2012), and Avenue Q (2012). Other music directing experience includes two years with Atholton High School’s theatre department, five years with Slayton House’s Summer Intensive/Conservatory programs, and recently, Teaching Young Actors: Junior Company (T.Y.A. Jr.).

During his tenure with Slayton House and T.Y.A. Jr., Dustin has worked one on one with over 100 young performers, developing audition material, performance etiquette and technique. Currently, he is applying those same teachings to various performers who study voice with him privately.

 

Erin Kauffman Erin has been a performing arts educator, theater director, and performer in the Greater Baltimore area for over 10 years. Erin holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Music Education from Towson University, and has 10 years of teaching under her belt. She has taught all levels of theater and music classes from K-12, with most of her experience in secondary education (Middle & High). Erin currently teaches at the Upper School of Annapolis Area Christian School in Severn, MD, teaching Vocal Music, Music Theory and Musical Theater. She is a board member of the Maryland Choral Educators Association.

As a performing arts educator, Erin has presented at state conferences, written fine arts curriculum, taught and directed numerous performing arts summer camps, adjudicated county choral festivals, and taught musical theater master classes and workshops. At DLC, Erin has taught production classes, co-directed TYA Junior Company and directed for Red Branch Theater Company. Erin specializes in audition preparation and collegiate music/musical theater auditions, but she freely has acting and voice students of all purposes.


Why should I take private 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 10 voice lessons?
Students can expect to learn between two to three songs through the course of a 10 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 410-997-9352 or emailing dramalearningcenter@yahoo.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 410-997-9352 or emailing dramalearningcenter@yahoo.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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