Taking Voice Lessons

Whether you are a beginning or advanced voice student, you will find a variety of options for study at Duke to meet your needs.

MUSIC 101-2 Voice Class (permission by audition). Voice classes are limited to five students and offer group and individual instruction in the class setting with an accompanist provided. Sections may be grouped as Beginner’s Voice Class, Music Theater Beginner’s Voice Class, A Cappella Beginner’s Voice Class, or, for a second semester’s enrollment, Advanced Beginner’s Voice Class. As mentioned above, Voice Class incurs an additional fee.

Music 208 Voice Lessons (permission by audition). Weekly voice lessons receive a half credit. An accompanist is provided for this iPod course. The university charges an extra fee for this course, which is waived for music majors with voice as the primary area.

Music 115S English & Italian Diction. This beginning diction class should be taken as early in your Duke career as possible, especially if you are a voice music major or minor. English and Italian Diction is the first semester in a series designed to teach you the rules of pronunciation for the most commonly sung languages. You will learn the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) and transcribe and sing songs in both languages.

Music 116S German & French Diction. This is a second-semester diction class, designed to build on the foundation created by your knowledge of English and Italian pronunciation and IPA transcription.

MUSIC 401 Advanced Study in Music Performance (Voice Recital). Open to juniors and seniors and sophomores with exceptional ability, this course carries a full credit for weekly voice lessons in preparation for a recital. A half recital is required for one semester's study; a full recital is required for two semesters' study (plus an extended jury at the end of the first semester). Fees are waived for music majors.

MUSIC 390-1 Interpretation & Performance (permission of instructor). Topics vary; this course offers both classroom work and student projects involving performance and interpretation.

Opportunities are also available for singers in Opera Theater, the Duke Chorale, and the Chapel Choir. Jazz singers will find opportunities to sing with the Jazz Ensemble.


All lessons and ensembles are offered by permission of the instructors after competitive auditions at the beginning of the semester, conducted by members of the Voice faculty (see below). You must audition for voice lessons or classes only on the first three days of classes each semester. Immediately following auditions, the voice class roster and the faculty teaching assignments are finalized and a schedule is created so that students can receive the required number of lessons or classes for the year.

Sign up for an audition time on the sheet posted outside 075 Biddle.

Sign up/fill out form. See the auditions page for the voice audition schedule. Come to Biddle Music Building on East Campus to sign up for an audition at the bulletin board beside Room 105 Biddle. 075 Biddle, where the audition will take place, is located on the bottom floor of the music building, as are the music practice rooms. Voice Audition Information Forms will be posted on the bulletin board along with the sign up sheet; please take one and fill it out completely before coming in to your audition.

Audition day. At the audition most students sing a classical song or a music theater song, but a folk song or hymn would also be appropriate. An accompanist is provided, so bring a score for the accompanist.

Results/enrollment. Audition results will be posted on the bulletin board by 075 Biddle by the end of the week. Your instructor will contact you with your lesson time. Once you have been assigned to a class or an instructor's private studio, you may request a permission number for the course and register during add/drop. There is an additional fee for MUSIC 101-2 Voice Class and an additional fee for MUSIC 208 Voice Lessons, reflected on your semester bill from the Bursar's Office. Fees are non-refundable after drop/add ends, as specified by the university. Voice lesson fees are waived for music majors if voice is your primary area.


Sandra Cotton
Susan Dunn
Ted Federle
Penelope Jensen
Elizabeth Linnartz


Voice Division ListServ (voicenotes@duke.edu). Anyone may subscribe to this list to receive information on performing opportunities, faculty concerts, visiting artists, master classes, free tickets, opera broadcasts, local performances, and so forth. You will also receive important announcements for voice students regarding Combined Studio Classes and juries. To subscribe, go to https://lists.duke.edu/sympa/subscribe/voicenotes and use your preferred Duke email address or a non-Duke address. You may submit information to this listserv via the voice faculty.

Music Library. You must explore the extent of the vast resources available at the Music Library which includes language dictionaries, Grove Music Online database, volumes of word-by-word translations of songs and arias, complete editions of composers’ works, scores (e.g. operas, musicals, folk songs, art songs, popular songs, and song collections in many languages), books on singing, drama, pronunciation, opera, composers, and vocal pedagogy, and the copier in the corner. As always, the librarians are your best resource, and they enjoy showing you how to find all sorts of answers and resources.

Music Media Center (MMC). MMC holds DVDs, CDs, VCRs, LPs and recordings in various formats of nearly anything you would like to listen to or view. Located in the lower floor of Biddle Music Building (Room 027), the MMC also contains listening stations for any format you choose. Some resources have a 3-hour check-out period with expensive fines for late return.

Lilly Library. Lilly has Digital Video Recorders available for checkout to record your own recitals and performances. Lilly also has an extensive collection of VCR and DVD operas, concerts and music theater performances.

Practice Rooms. Many practice rooms are available in downstairs Biddle. Please place your Duke ID in the window. Other practice rooms are available on West Campus.

Duke Voice Care Center. Located in Duke South Hospital on West Campus, the Duke Voice Care Center combines the expertise of a team of health care professionals to determine the cause of your voice problem and develop an integrated plan to improve your voice. If you are experiencing laryngitis, hoarseness, or other voice-related problems and want to see a doctor, call (919) 681-4984 for an appointment. Ask for Leda Scearce and be sure to tell her you are a singer.

Performing Opportunities

Studio Voice Class. At the discretion of the instructor, MUSIC 208 and MUSIC 401 students may be asked to attend performance classes where students sing for each other. The instructor works with students for the benefit of the class.

Combined Studio Voice Class. On several Tuesdays of the semester these classes will be held from 5:00-6:00 PM in Bone Hall (058 Biddle). MUSIC 208 and MUSIC 401 students are required to perform two songs in Combined Studio Voice Class each semester.

Solo Recitals. Solo recitals are possible at Duke in the sophomore year or later. Students often combine with another singer to do duo or half recitals in their sophomore or junior year. See MUSIC 401 under course listings for more information.

Messiah Sing-along. Sponsored by the Duke Chapel Choir, the annual Messiah Sing-Along occurs in mid-November. Auditions for soloists for the various solo movements typically scheduled in October and is open to any student singers. For more information, contact Dr. Philip Cave, Associate Conductor for Chapel Music.

Duke Symphony Orchestra Concerto Contest. The annual concerto contest auditions provide an opportunity for students to audition for and be selected to perform a concerted work with the Duke Symphony Orchestra. Audition dates are announced in the fall at least two months before the auditions. The winners’ performances occur in the spring semester. Contact the Orchestra Music Director or your instructor for further details.

Choral Music. See the Music Department webpage for information on the Duke Chorale. See the Duke Chapel Music website for information on the Duke Chapel Choir and the Duke Vespers Ensemble as well as community sing-along events.