Studio 26

Studio 26

Helping Kids Find Their Confidence

After Heather Sandberg graduated from college in 2003, she began working at a school of music in San Jose, along with offering voice lessons to friends and family back home in Brentwood. When her apartment in San Jose eventually fell through, Heather took it as a sign to move back to Brentwood rather than commuting for her clients. “I had so many students here in Brentwood that it just made sense,” said Heather. Shortly after, thanks to some much-needed encouragement, Heather also added piano lessons to her repertoire, creating her own curriculum. “As someone who took piano lessons as a kid and hated them, I was hesitant to offer them. So now that I do, I make sure to put less pressure on my students and try to have them leave feeling confident rather than inadequate.”
 

Somewhere along the way, between opening in 2003 to adding glee class in 2010, Heather transitioned her business name to Studio 26 to express the variety of services she was providing. Studio 26 currently offers private voice and piano lessons, show choir, and glee. Voice and piano lessons are private and begin at age seven. “Before that age, it’s more the parents who are the driving force,” said Heather. “I want them to be able to listen and do the breathing techniques. When they’re too young, they don’t know how to engage their diaphragm, etc.” As for glee, children can start as young as four years old and go up until 18. The younger classes focus on singing, dancing and solos, as well as learning how to listen to direction. As students progress, the skills become more difficult like learning harmonies, pitch training, choreography and more acapella pieces. “It’s all about getting the kids to be animated and confident up in front of each other.”
 

Heather’s youngest classes typically have 14-16 kids, while the older kids’ class sizes can range from 20-25. Private lessons are available by appointment only, and group classes are available on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons. “The days are long with back-to-back classes,” said Heather. Students re-enroll every semester and due to limited class sizes, spots can fill up quickly. “A lot of my students do sports also, so I’ll see them either in the spring or the fall semester, as well as possibly during our summer camps which we hold at Tess’ Community Kitchen.” If Studio 26’s availability doesn’t fit someone’s schedule, they’re encouraged to join the old-fashioned fun summer camp full of slip ‘n’ slides, dance parties, singing, and arts and crafts. “The kids rotate through the stations for three and a half hours, and it’s so much fun.”
             
Not only do students get to enjoy themselves and learn to come out of their shells during class, they also have the opportunity to perform for friends and family at two annual recitals. “I don’t do ticket sales for our performances,” said Heather. “I want it to be a community event and want the kids to be free to invite as many family members and friends as they’d like. I don’t want to limit them. It should be something that everybody can go to; the door is open.” Studio 26’s May recital is always a fundraiser to be able to donate funds to local kids battling pediatric cancer. The idea originated with Lauren Huffmaster, owner of Adventure Therapy Foundation, when she was in the thick of her own fight. “At the time I was teaching all three of her girls,” said Heather. “So, we did a big fundraiser for her. You have all of these people in one place, why not use it for something good?” The funds are raised through rose sales as well as donations.
 
 
As just a one-woman show, Heather realizes that she doesn’t want to grow bigger than her capacity. “I have all of these great ideas, but it’s really hard as just one person executing it. I do the choreography, admin, collecting payments, emails. I also love that I have direct contact and relationships with my families. I would never want to grow so big that I don’t know what’s happening.” However, despite her already full plate, Heather still has dreams and future goals for Studio 26, including bringing back Disneyland trips where the older kids are given the chance to perform on stage. “I used to take them every other year before COVID,” said Heather. “We have to work harder than ever before and audition to meet Disney’s standards, but it’s so magical and an amazing experience for the kids.” Heather would also love to enjoy more activities with the kids outside of the studio, like bowling and performing at local community events like Hometown Halloween. She also plans to bring back her Tiny Tunes class for two-year-olds, full of singing, dancing, and crafts. “We did parachutes, snowball fights, throw leaves, sing about shapes and colors. I also worked on getting kids comfortable being away from mom. I truly miss that class.”
             
Regardless of what Studio 26 does or does not add in the future, Heather’s true focus will always remain the same. “I love making magic for the kids. If you can feed children confidence and make them feel good about themselves, then they’re going to be better performers. They really get to enjoy what they’re doing, which is the whole point.”
 

By: Michelle Lassle   Photos by: Sara Jean Photography

 

Address: 640 Harvest Park Drive, Suite E, Brentwood, CA 94513

 

 

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Brentwood is one of the fastest-growing cities in the nine-county Bay Area and offers a strategic location that connects: the SF Bay Area, Central Valley, Tri-Valley, and Sacramento Delta.

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