Songbird Studios—a voice school founded by Bay Area singer/songwriter and vocal coach Whitney Nichole—recently opened its third outpost at 1610 Irving St. (between 17th and 18th Avenues).
"We were looking for a third location because the first two were at capacity and had to create a wait list beginning this past November," Nichole told Hoodline in a phone interview. "We also wanted to round out our footprint in the city," which is why she selected the Inner Sunset.
"It's a family neighborhood, and I've been amazed at how friendly people are," she said. "They're stopping by and saying hello."
Nichole opened Songbird Studio's first location in Nob Hill in 2014 and its second location in Noe Valley two years later. In total, the school has roughly 300 students each week.
"We're a voice and singing studio and give lessons to all ages from eight to 80-years-old," said Nichole, who's been teaching since 2009. "It's all about helping people find their voice through singing and expressing themselves."
About 90 percent of the company's business consists of one-on-one voice lessons with amateurs, semi-professionals, and professionals.
"They're looking for a place to work on their voice, and we attract those interested in contemporary vocal components, as opposed to a classical way of singing," she said.
Because such a wide range of students seek out the studio's services, Nichole said her 17-person teaching team takes pride in being student-centered.
"Some people want to sing but are self-conscious about their voice, so we work on exploring their range," she said. "Others are more comfortable and it's about taking their voice to the next level. And sometimes it's about beginning to songwrite, book shows and perform."
The diversity of artists also makes her job fun, she said. "I've worked with a ton of rappers, even singers who are into metal and screamo music. So it can be really fun because it's out of the norm."
Other customers have included couples who are looking to prepare for a song to sing at their wedding, as well as people who "truly believe that they can't sing," Nichole said. "Those are incredibly rewarding, because I believe that everyone can enjoy singing."
Songbird recently introduced Little Tweets, a program for children 0–5-years-old where students sing pop songs and host events throughout the year that are open to the public.
There are also audition workshops, as well as showcases in which students perform with a live band—an especially helpful technique for artists preparing to go on tour or release an album.
Lessons generally run 30 minutes, and the first one is free. It's a chance for the instructor to sit down with a student and "get a feel of their voice," said Nichole. "Like if they want to belt it out and sing stronger or louder."
No matter a student's experience or lack thereof, Nichole said they're welcome to join Songbird Studio's creative community. "We want people to show up and leave feeling better than they came."
Songbird Studios is open for lessons Monday–Friday 12–8pm and Saturday 10am–6pm.
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