Sadly, community music stores aren’t common anymore. My extensive research (comprised of exactly one Google search using the words “community+music+stores+us”) brought up precisely 11 hits from Portland, OR, South Hadley, MA, The Dalles, OR, Brentwood, East Bay area,  South FL, Rivervale, UT, several locations in WI,  and Santa Fe, NM before going straight to Amazon Music.

I feel fortunate to have such a store in my neighborhood. Lake Music, on Boones Ferry Road, is just over a mile from  my house and home studio. I’d been a customer for piano books before I walked in, probably over a year ago, to see if I could post some marketing materials there for my vocal training practice. Since they have music teachers as independent contractors there at the store, I was told that probably wasn’t a great idea…and that a voice teacher might be leaving. 

I thought, “What the heck?” And e-mailed the store owner with my vocal training information, just in case.

Months later, I heard from Tim that they needed a new voice teacher, and was I still interested?

I was.

I’ve been teaching at Lake Music, along with private students in my home studio and via Zoom, since early August of last year, and am so grateful I stopped into the store that day!

Lake Music was founded by Tim’s father, Sid Smither, in 1970, and has taught and inspired thousands of students.  As time has gone by, 2nd generation students are learning the value of music education at Lake Music.  As the website says: “We are so happy to have been and still be a part of bringing the love and passion of music to Lake Oswego for close to 50 years.”

Along with vocal training, I’m teaching piano students at Lake Music as well. I know Mrs. Hamre, my piano teacher from second grade through my senior year of high school, would be proud.

I love the staff at Lake Music, my fellow teacher colleagues and the store dog, Mary Ann’s dachshund, Kutya. (That’s likely not the proper Hungarian spelling – we pronounce his name “Coocha.”) Kutya is adorable and trails into the music room with Mary Ann when she’s teaching violin students.  I’m working with younger students there I wouldn’t otherwise have met, and have been blown away by the students’ progress, and the joy I experience teaching them.

Here’s just one story, about one student, I met through Lake Music. “H” is 20 years old, and up until his first voice lesson with me, had never sung. Apparently, he’s an accomplished guitar player, and his guitar teacher recommended he explore voice lessons.

Immediately at H’s first lesson, I recognized the inner singer in him that had been waiting to come out and play. He became so impassioned about singing and music, he considered quitting college all together to become a professional musician. His passion, enthusiasm and dedication to his voice are awe-inspiring. Much to – I’m sure – his parents’ relief, H returned to college to study computer science, business and to minor in music! He signed up for the men’s chorus and private voice lessons at the university as well! At our last lesson together, I asked H, “Whatever you do in the future, keep singing!” He assured me he would and gave me a hug. (Sniffle.)

Having the opportunity to nurture and help develop a love of singing, and another person’s voice, like this is humbling, thrilling, and an honor I do not take lightly.

Do you have an inner singer that wants to come out and play? Give me a call! And, if you’re in the Portland, Oregon area, drop by Lake Music, will ya? You’ll find a great variety of printed music, instruments, teachers for all instruments, instrument rental and repair, and a group of fantastic people to help you fuel your love and passion for music.

Please spread the love and pass this along to a friend!

Working with Laura has been a huge blessing in my life. I have wanted to learn to sing for years now but always believed I didn’t have a good singing voice. After a couple lessons with Laura I heard sounds coming out of my mouth I couldn’t believe I was making! My skills and my confidence have improved. I’ve performed hip-hop live twice now and voice lessons have helped me with public speaking too. Highly recommended! -Lennon R.

Every time I have a lesson with Laura, I come out having learned something new about my voice, and my breathing. I try to use these techniques on a daily basis for acting, singing, and general speech. I recommend Laura to anyone hoping to improve their voice. -Noah G. (13 yrs.)

To Your Voice and Your Personal Music,


Lake Oswego’s Transformational Voice® Teacher (Transformational Voice® is a registered trademark of Transformational Voice® Training Institute, LLC, and Linda Brice.)