Donna Dutton

Donna D.

Corte Madera, CA

About Donna D.

Background check: Last verified 07/13/2016
Donna passed a background check on 07/13/2016 that included the following:
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Donna teaches: Ages 8 and up
Special needs
Teaching since: February 2014
Last sign in: 2 days ago


I love to sing, and I have a passion for teaching students to sing well. I have sung in choruses all my life, and have been inspired by fine conductors and great composers. I am certain that music enlivens my life like nothing else, and it can do that for everyone. Whether you sing in the shower, or in the choir, or with a few friends, or in an opera, you can find your song.

Learning to play the piano, from the very beginning, or picking up where you left off in the past, will bring a spark to your life. Whether you want to play for yourself or some friends, or want to get on track to becoming a concert pianist, music will enrich your life.

My students develop an appreciation for music of the Renaissance up through the 21st century. They are willing to delve into exciting territory while learning to read music, establishing confidence in their own musicianship. They discover the music within themselves, while learning the technique necessary to be the best musicians they can be.

I enjoy teaching high school, middle school, and elementary students as well as adults. I Love teaching beginners. I am trained in vocal pedagogy, music theory, music history, repertoire, performance practice and methods.

My formal education:
B.A., UC, Berkeley (Phi Beta Kappa)
M.A., Occidental College
M.S. Pepperdine University
Lifetime General Secondary Teaching Credential

Teachers and mentors:
Howard Swan, Mary Jones, Edward Lawton, Robert Commanday, Roger Wagner, Linda Anderson, Boyd Jarrell, Paul Smith.

In the last twenty years, I have enjoyed being a participant in music at the College of Marin, through choral, vocal, opera and piano classes. I currently serve as volunteer assistant to the Director of Choral Activities.

I am particularly proud of my experience as instructional aide and coach for music students with disabilities at the College of Marin, including students with developmental disabilities and autism.

Past classroom experience:
Long Beach Unified School District, Choral Music Teacher
Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District, Choral Music Teacher
Low Heywood School and King School (prep schools), Stamford, CT, Choral Music Teacher

*** Lesson Details ***
Voice students can expect to learn how to produce tone beautifully, using correct posture and breathing, and proper vowel production, rhythmic precision, pitch accuracy, carefully formed phrases, and musical and stylistic interpretation. But beyond technique is the amazing art of communicating with other people the wonders of the music. You should expect to make good progress in all of these areas in just a few weeks. I hope you will come with serious interest in developing your beautiful voice.

Repertoire might include folk songs, art songs and arias from the Renaissance, Baroque, Classical and Romantic eras, as well as compositions of the 20th and 21st centuries. Songs might be in English, or possibly in Italian, Latin, German or French, if you interested. We would sit down together and decide what dreams and goals you have, and then choose music to get you going down the path to those dreams and goals.

You can expect to have learned several new songs, and to have brought them to performance level in the first 3-6 months. If you have a goal to learn music for an audition, contest or festival, that can happen.

Piano students can expect to learn everything about the keyboard, posture, proper use right and left hands, scales, chords, arpeggios, and fun exercises leading to good technique, rhythmic accuracy, speed and fluency. Playing beautifully, with artfulness and expressiveness will be priorities.

Repertoire might include beginning to intermediate compositions from the Baroque, Classical and Romantic eras, as well as compositions of the 20th and 21st centuries. We would sit down together and decide what pieces to choose which would help you get on a path to your musical dreams and goals, and what would be appropriate for your age and development as a musician.

You can expect to be playing pieces with 2 hands within a few weeks, and perhaps a melody with chords, if you are a beginner. Degree of difficulty will depend upon your age, experience and development, but even very simple songs can be played musically, with grace.

Of utmost importance to me is that every student learn to read music, and develop an understanding of music fundamentals. The level of sophistication will depend upon age and experience, but learning good musicianship is essential. At the same time, opportunities for creativity to develop through improvisation could be on the horizon for you. It is important to me that you want to learn and and want to become the best you can be.

*** Studio Equipment ***
I have a piano and computer with Finale at my home. I provide music and practice sheets, etc.

*** Specialties ***
For voice, I teach classical style, including posture, breathing, tone production, vowel production, phrasing, diction, appropriate style and performance practice, and music reading. Materials I use include everything from folk songs to arias, and 16th century to contemporary compositions, in English, Italian, Latin, French and German. Voice is my primary interest. I am also competent to teach beginning theory, and beginning piano, both classical and standard popular, including improvisation from charts (melody, chords).

Write a Review

8 Reviews on Donna D.

Alexandra W. Aug 26, 2016
Piano · In studio
Verified Student
My daughter was happy. Donna is very kind and seems to have a lot of patience. So far so good.
Jerry I. Jan 19, 2016
Piano · In studio
Verified Student
Very good. Right pace and understanding
Cindy C. Dec 4, 2015
Piano · In studio
Verified Student
It's been great. Absolutely recommend!
Kyoko R. Aug 4, 2015
Singing · In studio
Verified Student
To say that I am a beginner is an understatement. Donna is extremely knowledgable and managed my "novice-ness" with ease. She helped me feel good about learning the basics and how to build from ground zero. I am very happy and feel like I am in the hands of a great educator!
AndreaS Feb 16, 2012
Very nice singing classes

Donna is a very warm teacher, her way of teaching is very encouraging and supportive. I enjoyed her classes and learned a lot, more than only singing. I would surely recommend her as a teacher.
carmenl May 17, 2011
Donna is a great teacher. Gives me the direction I need to focus and progress and enough freedom to experiment with what I'm trying to learn. She also reveals some of mystery of how music works.
LenoraY Jun 15, 2010
Feedback for Donna

Donna's method of teaching gets quick results. She simplifies, presents and reinforces concepts such that I've managed to make progress with each lesson. Highly intelligent yet flexible, Donna was quick to analyze my learning process/style. Therefore, when I do falter, she knows exactly why - and helps me make adjustments.
RosarioA Jul 13, 2009
Donna has been an excellent and dedicated teacher to my son Iker.
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