Sandberg, who teaches private singing and piano lessons from her home as part of her business Studio 26, has always wanted to put together a show choir, and the success of “Glee” motivated her to create a class for middle and high school students.
“I’ve been wanting to do a group thing for a while, and when the show ‘Glee’ came around, it just seemed like the right fit,” Sandberg said.
The Studio 26 Glee Club meets every Tuesday evening at Expressions Dance Studio. Sandberg’s class of 23 is practicing a three-song show that they’ll debut in May.
Jacquelyn Klinger, a Bristow Middle School eighth-grader, was one of the first students to sign up.
“I’ve been taking voice lessons with Heather for about a year, so when she told me about the club I was really excited, and I told all my friends and a lot of them signed up too,” Klinger said.
Klinger’s mother Diana said when she found out about the show “Glee” she approached Sandberg about creating a class. The two worked together to promote the club at local schools. She said she’s glad there’s a new program in town for students who want to do singing and dancing, as the local schools don’t provide that opportunity.
Sandberg said she’s impressed by the caliber of her glee students: “They come to class prepared, and since these are modern songs most of them were familiar with the lyrics already, so they don’t even need their lyric sheets. They’ve really surprised me. They’re an awesome group of kids.”
For the class’s first semester, the students are practicing Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing,” the theme song from “Fame,” and a remix of Beyonce’s “Halo” and “Walking on Sunshine” by Katrina and the Waves.
The class has been working on the vocals since they first met in January, and began choreography lessons this week. Sandberg said the Glee Club will perform in May as part of her Studio 26 student recital, and as part of Expressions Dance Studio’s recital in June.
Jennifer Phillips, an eighth-grader at Adams Middle School, is excited about the idea of performing for a large audience. She first heard about the class from Jacquelyn and signed up right away. She said the class is even better than she expected: “Glee Club is so much fun. You get to sing and dance and be with your friends. Plus Heather’s great. She’s really sweet and she makes class fun.”
While Phillips is a religious “Glee” viewer, who is going through withdrawals as the show is on hiatus until April, Sandberg doesn’t watch the show in order to avoid the temptation to mimic it.
Student Gabby Raymundo, a freshman at Freedom High School, doesn’t watch the show either, but she loves being a part of Glee Club. Since the class is comprised of students from all over far East County, she’s been able to meet new people.
Erica Downing, a Bristow Middle School sixth grader, said she loves the show "Glee" because it makes her want to sing and dance, and now through the class, she can act it out for real.
Paige Fithian, a sixth grader at O'Hara Park Middle School who loves singing and dancing, said she's really excited about the class and looks forward to performing the remix of "Halo" and "Walking on Sunshine" because it's upbeat and fun to sing.
Fithian's friend Allie Rohlfs is also in the class and loves the same song, enjoying the challenge of singing the remix.
Rachel Rodrigues, a seventh grader at Bristow Middle School, said her favorite song is "Don't Stop Believing" as she is a huge Journey fan. Elaina Alvis, also a seventh grader at Bristow, said she likes the song too since she's familiar with the lyrics.
"I love the musical arrangement of the song," Alvis said.
Harlee Kraft, a sixth grader at Excelsior Middle School, said her favorite song is "Fame" because there's a lot of expression in the song, and plenty of opportunities to dance.
Sandberg said she’s glad the students are having so much fun and she hopes to create a junior Glee Club for elementary school kids who will eventually graduate to the Glee Club. Graduating seniors are welcome to stay with the group as long as they can commit to the weekly rehearsals.
For more information about the Studio 26 Glee Club, visit www.explorestudio26.com.