Melissa McMahan

Melissa M.

Silver Spring, MD

Lesson Details

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Melissa teaches



Melissa delivers an exceptional lesson experience and ranks in the top 15% of our teachers nationwide.
Teaches students:
Ages 5+

Teaching since:
February 2007

Melissa began singing in a church choir at the age of four and has been "hooked" ever since. After years of performing in various choirs and taking lessons herself, she went on to earn her Bachelor's degree in vocal performance at Illinois Wesleyan University and her Master's at Illinois State University. Meanwhile, Melissa was also studying piano from childhood through college. Now in her 21st year of playing, Melissa loves to teach beginner and intermediate pianists in addition to young singers. She is a newcomer to the DC area, and has previously lived, sung, and taught in Illinois, Indiana, and Vienna, Austria.
Melissa has performed on both the undergraduate and graduate level (and beyond). Her experience includes operas, operettas, recitals, musicals, and choirs. She has performed in venues ranging from the Indianapolis Opera to the Notre Dame cathedral in Paris. Over the years she has performed in the United States, Canada, England, France, Italy, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Russia, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, and Finland. She also studied piano for many years, and has experience as an accompanist and vocal coach.
Melissa started teaching during her senior year of college when she took her first vocal pedagogy course. Teaching has been an important part of her schedule ever since. She has taught privately, through various community schools, through several national companies, and she served as a Graduate Teaching Assistant at Illinois State University for two years. Thus, she has experience teaching all ages and skill levels. Her students have ranged from beginners to university music majors, from age 4 to age 72.
Other than her pedagogy training and the typical university diction and literature curriculum, she also took 14 years of French, and lived in a German-speaking country for the better part of a year studying the language. Her knowledge of diction and language issues is extensive. This, combined with her comprehensive training in music theory, history, and repertoire, gives her a vast reserve of knowledge and resources for her teaching.

*** Lesson Details ***
In lessons, I strive to keep the atmosphere collaborative rather than dictatorial. I encourage you, the student, to ask questions, and I believe it's imperative for you to understand why what you're learning is important. I do my best to make you feel comfortable trying new things and making mistakes. Ultimately, learning vocal technique requires putting your trust in the teacher without abandoning your own individual thoughts. Knowing this, I try to engender the necessary trust in my knowledge while collaborating with you to incorporate your own words, metaphors, thoughts, and feelings into your approach. I hope to encourage you to trust me, but not depend on me. I'll equip you with a process—with a solid technique and an understanding of why it will help you, with a good idea of how to practice, with the tools to achieve proper diction and translation without always having to parrot my pronunciation, and of course with the ability to read music and learn new songs without my note-for-note supervision. I don’t hesitate to give my students as much help as they need, but as you grow more advanced and experienced, I become increasingly focused on helping you understand how much you can accomplish in your at-home practice sessions without me. This speeds your progress and ensures that you will not feel helpless when you go home to practice.
Singing is great fun, but at times it can seem like hard, frustrating work. Music lessons can either be a huge coup for a person’s sense of self, or they can tear it down and make that person feel inadequate. Knowing this, I strive to keep lessons fun, above all. I believe in my students' talent, and I do my best to be encouraging and supportive, and to instill a sense of pride and achievement.

*** Studio Equipment ***
Two pianos, music stand, metronome, music flashcards, staff paper, worksheets and educational aids related to the music theory program I've designed for voice students, various small rhythm instruments, two keyboards, a guitar, and a music library of 389 volumes (and growing...)

*** Specialties ***
Although my voice is particularly suited for classical music and classic music theater, I have also successfully taught students interested in more modern music theater, folk/acoustic rock, jazz, and gospel. I believe that students thrive when they’re allowed to sing the kind of music they prefer, as well as encouraged to broaden their scope.

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10 Reviews

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Alan S. Jan 9, 2014
Singing ·

Melissa is outstanding

Today I pulled out the sheet music to some songs I was working on with Melissa a few months ago. Each song had been a challenge back then because of the high notes. Today I sang them with ease. It is very encouraging to see this progress, and it makes me confident that a few months from now I may dust off the songs I'm working on now and discover that they too are no longer a challenge. Her emphasis on the fundamentals of singing and how to increase range and resonance is very gratifying.

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Anh L. Jan 23, 2013

We are glad we found her.

Melisa, as a vocal teacher, has quickly earned my daughter's trust and respect.
I am not qualify to rate her teaching skill.
She is very professional and communicates concisely.
The teaching environment is quite adequate.
I would recommend her.

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Brunilde G. Nov 15, 2012
Singing ·

Excellent singing lessons

I always wanted to start singing lessons but I was afraid to do it because I hate my voice and I have no self-confidence. Since the first lesson with Melissa, I enjoyed it so much. Melissa is a wonderful teacher; she is very skilled and has excellent tips and technics to help you to develop your voice. She is also very good to help me to learn and understand music theory. I feel like I am learning so much and I love it. She is also very patient and encouraging, which clearly helps a lot too.

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TimetriaJ Jun 6, 2012

Melissa is very professional and my daughter is having a great time. She is learning how to really control her voice and I am greatful for the service I am recieving from Melissa.

SteveH1 Jan 27, 2012


My son really likes taking lessons with Melissa, she is great.

DonnaG Oct 31, 2011

Ashlyns' Grandmother

Melissa is a great teacher. She is not only knowledgable about voice, she is great with my grandaughter, Ashlyn. Ashlyn learns a lot and enjoys being taught by Ms. Melissa.

TashaG Jul 31, 2011

Great Teacher

I am really enjoying my lessons with Melissa. She is very skilled, patient, and enjoyable to work with. I appreciate the fact that she lets me choose which musical pieces I want to work on.

JohnB1 Mar 29, 2011

i enjoy you pushing me out of my box.. but i definitely want to spend as much time as you think is possible on stuff i know and feel like i can more effectively practice :)

LindieO Jan 19, 2011


Melissa has been working with my 6 year old daughter with singing lessons for several months now and she is great. She is patient and explains things in a way for my daughter to understand. I'm really glad that we found her through this site.

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HarjapV Oct 15, 2010


really nice teacher . she is funny and helping nature. she will teach you everything and anything you wana learn about music. I am glad n lucky to have her my instructor.

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