When Jeff Miller was growing up, his parents sang folk songs to him. After he married and had a son, he got into show tunes and wanted to sing them. Miller took lessons through the Montgomery Country Recreation Department and has since sung in choral groups—he’s even performed the national anthem at local events. Says Miller, “I always had the philosophy of getting out of your comfort zone and taking a chance.”
There are many opportunities to learn to vocalize properly and have fun. The area’s premier place for that is the Levine School of Music (Northwest and Southeast DC, North Bethesda, and Arlington; 202-686-8000; levineschool.org) . Private lessons for all levels are available for 30, 45, or 60 minutes a week. Group classes are about $350 for the semester, $705 for the year. You can also gather a few friends, and the school will set up a private class (minimum of four people); the cost varies.
The Montgomery County Recreation Department (240-777-6804; montgomerycountymd.gov/rec) offers six-week singing classes for $55. Alison Leadbetter-Hines’s popular classes take place at Tilden Middle School (11211 Old Georgetown Rd., Rockville). “We talk about the physical act of singing, breath control,” she says, “how to make the instrument inside you work.”
The Web site Musicstaff.com can put you in touch with private teachers. Music stores, choral directors, and university music departments can recommend teachers as well. Private instruction ranges from about $20 for a half hour to $80 and up for an hour.
If you’re experienced, there are numerous outlets to perform, including two Levine School choral groups that don’t require an audition: The Levine Community Singers costs $75 to join for ten weeks and performs everything from madrigals to musical theater. The Senior Singers’ Chorale is for those 55 and older.
Local groups frequently hold auditions. Journalist Kakki Lewis is a member of BlueLine, a jazz group in DC. Lewis, who has sung all her life, joined an a cappella group after moving here from New York. Six years ago, she formed BlueLine, a six-member group that has performed at the Kennedy Center, private parties, and coffeehouses.
The Contemporary a Cappella Society (casa.org) lists a cappella group auditions.