Diane B Thornton 

Vocal Instructor


Diane Thornton has a vast array of knowledge that she has acquired over a splendid career in music. One of her greatest pleasures is in developing the vocal skills of her students in harmony with their physical strengths and imparting the understanding that the muscles used to sing need the same attention as any athletic endeavor. Below are the comments of some of her students. For more about Ms. Thornton's teaching philosophy see the last section of this page. 
"I was honored to study voice under Diane Thornton while a student at Davidson College from 1998 through 2002. I consider those to be my golden years of voice instruction as I have not encountered such a brilliant teacher before or since that time. I count Diane as my most important musical influence. Her approach to voice is holistic considering technical precision, physical wellbeing, as well as the emotional and spiritual connection with the music. I was transformed as a vocalist and a performer while in her studio and her lessons have remained with me, allowing me to pick up advanced vocal performance without difficulty even after long breaks. Diane is a stunning, monster talent in her own right. Her voice can be described as rich, chocolate cake. When studying with her, you look forward for the moments when she demonstrates and you get a chance to hear her magnificent instrument. However, she has been doubly blessed because she is equally talented as a teacher. Diane is able to connect with her students, appreciate and teach to their specific vocal qualities, learning styles, ambitions, limitations and gifts. It is difficult to put into words what Diane has meant to me as a teacher, a mentor and a friend. I envy the good fortune of vocalists living in the vicinity of her studio. Perhaps someday I too will be that lucky again!"
Julie Pine, Davidson College '02

  "When I began lessons with Diane, I was a premed student who sang in choir.  I liked music and enjoyed singing, but didn't have any thought of more in my future.  It was Diane who inspired me to seriously pursue music. Her attention to detail, caring attitude, and passion for music inspired me to spend more and more time exploring singing.  Soon after, she drove me to my first opera.  This experience will forever be the most important in my professional life, because it was in this moment that I knew I had to study music seriously with the intention of performing for a career.  Thanks to Diane, I am currently in a graduate school for vocal performance."
Jennifer Nicholson, Davidson College '12

 "Diane Thornton in the music department really gave me the confidence to pursue a career in music-a decision I had been struggling with even before Davidson-and of all things, an operatic career. It turns out the theatrical element combined with the musical complexity made it a perfect choice."
Briana Hunter, Davidson College '08, professional opera singer 
" Working with Diane was a life changing experience. As a voice teacher her qualifications are simply remarkable. 

After graduating Summa Cum Laude and receiving a Master of Music in Opera degree from a top vocal conservatory, Diane taught at several of the best southern institutions, including UNC, Wake Forest and has spent the last few decades  transforming the vocal program at Davidson College. If she didn't move to Charlotte to enjoy a life with her family, I know she would be teaching at The Curtis School of Music or The Julliard School.

As Davidson's "Dean of Voice", Diane exceptionally relates challenging vocal concepts to students of all experience levels. Her hallmark is her flexible teaching style. She empowers students by placing their interests before her own - and reinvents herself to accommodate their needs. Having participated in masterclasses with many of the finest Philadelphia and NYC vocal instructors - I have never met a better vocal technician than Diane. No matter what the problem is - Diane can fix it.

Like many of her students, she not only inspired me to be a better singer, but also a better student, son, professional, and friend. For those of you who have the privilege of studying with Diane - I guarantee it will be a life changing experience. I look forward to hearing  you r story on this (student) page in the years to come."

Pearce Lockwood, Davidson College Music Scholar '14

"Diane Thornton has truly been one of my most influential instructors. She possesses the unique ability to combine world-class vocal talent and knowledge with dynamic, interactive skills to produce a truly brilliant instructive experience! Diane also allows herself to learn from the student everyday to optimize and individualize each learning experience. Diane really sets herself apart from the rest through her exceptional personal skills, connecting  not only cognitively through technical vocal instruction, but also on the personal level. By approaching instruction holistically, Diane helps to develop the whole vocalist-technically and emotionally. Diane provided one of the most comprehensive learning experiences of my life, and I am truly blessed to consider Diane Thornton a friend."
Pierce DeRico, Davidson College '14
"Diane was a guiding light for me in college. She took my voice under her care and nourished it until it was ready to grow. She inspired me to work hard and care of my voice as much as she did. Diane worked tirelessly to find music that challenged me, that spoke to me, and that would allow my voice to flourish. In every lesson she listened carefully and offered thoughtful feedback. Years later, I still use my notes from her lessons for practicing and teaching voice lessons to my own students. When I moved across the country she offered to put me in contact with teachers she knew in California. Diane is one in a million. She's a warm, experienced teacher who cares for the whole student while developing world-class technique. I would recommend her to anyone looking for voice lessons." 
Elizabeth Wand, Davidson College '10
Diane's Teaching Philosophy

Diane Thornton accepts students who have a passion for learning how to sing and who consequently will listen to her directives and work on them on a regular basis. She believes that applying discipline towards any form of personal enhancement, be it singing, gardening, writing, acting, or other pursuits, is the key to truly enjoying the pursuit. The singer can be at a beginner, intermediate, advanced, or professional level of vocal study, with ages ranging from teenager through senior citizen. The technique that she imparts to students is grounded in bel canto that is combined with processes linked to the Alexander and Feldenkrais methods of body movement, paying attention to both the art and science of singing and while researching current thought in singing technique. She continues to investigate how such a combination can be applied to the classical, musical theater and CCM vocal styles while maintaining the artistic integrity of such genres; and, to that end, she acquired additional training from the Contemporary Commercial Music Vocal Pedagogy Institute of Shenandoah Conservatory as well as through individual workshops.   She also believes that one can sing with a kind of strength that does not abuse the voice while applying "belting" techniques.

Those who study with Diane have the opportunity, if desired, to work with a professional pianist during lessons to prepare for Diane Thornton Vocal Studio recitals and other performances, auditions and competitions. She enjoys creating performance initiatives that accommodate individual needs as well as participating in existing opportunities such as the student auditions held by the North Carolina chapter of the National Association of Teachers of Singing.  Some current students have been participating (and placing) in the NC NATS Student Auditions, performing roles in school productions, and participating in outside vocal workshops and competitions.  Others are performing as professionals.  In addition, her studio includes students who simply want to feel more confident getting up in front of people or singing in a choral group.  

While at Davidson College and even currently, Diane has had the honor of assisting singers/actors with conditions such as cerebral palsy, dyslexia, asthma, temperomandibular joint disorder and other challenges.  She has also worked with voice rehabilitation experts in guiding singers back to health after first coming to her with vocal cord paralysis, lesions, vocal cord bowing and other phonation issues.  In addition, the challenges of the aging singer are of interest to her.  She continues to welcome singers into her vocal studio, working in tandem with medical experts when needed.  

The Diane Thornton Vocal Studio is one of inclusiveness, encouragement and respect for one another.  She does have a personal mission for her students:

*To feel acceptance and validation as a human being through the act of expressing oneself through song.
*To become aware of genres of vocal music that may not be a regular part of one's daily experience.
*To learn about the societal cultures surrounding different genres of vocal music, what those cultures teaches us about       ourselves and to consequently develop greater tolerance of cultures other than our own.
*To gain confidence in one's ability to stand alone in front of people and communicate successfully.
*To gather and learn "tools" towards successful communication.
*To understand that a successful performance of the "marriage" of music and text takes work and discipline.
*To learn how to not give up when the work and discipline are demanding.
*To believe in the power of "standing back up" and trying again after a perceived failure.  
*To know that, when times are tough, we are never completely alone.  

If you would like to consider becoming a student of Ms. Thornton, you may contact her by clicking here.