Dawson Hill, the founder of Columbia Area Piano Lessons, honed his musical skills at Emerson College, where he earned a degree in performing arts. Now, he teaches students of all experience levels to coax music from the ivory keys, even composing their own tunes. Students can opt to study classical music, jazz songs, blues, and other genres.
Mankind was never meant to breathe underwater, but the instructors at Columbia Scuba defy such limitations, helping students of all sorts—from small children to disabled adults—explore the forbidden depths. As young as 8, kids can start training with PADI Bubblemaker classes, using equipment suited to their smaller size, and swimmers of all ages can join Discover Scuba sessions to learn the basics of diving in the safety of a pool. For students looking to become certified divers, open-water diving and specialty diving courses test practical skills in unique environments, such as submerged shipwrecks filled with sunken coupons, whereas trips to the Florida springs or Cozumel convey the majestic experience of communing up close with marine wildlife.
Certified professional photographer Gene Taylor has fine-tuned his artistic vision while working in photojournalism and portrait photography for more than 30 years. During classes at Your Photo Safari, Gene introduces students to the photographic arts and the workings of DSLR cameras. Sessions begin in classroom settings, allowing students to get acquainted with camera basics as well as advanced features such as setting white balance and reducing blur. After learning how to navigate the multiple settings and buttons on their digital cameras, students traipse to area gardens to explore the natural world through their lenses. The hands-on experience allows students to take home artfully composed shots of plants bathed in natural light or trees planking over riverbanks in a bid for Internet fame.
Though they operate more than 200 locations in upwards of 30 states, the team behind U.S. Baseball Academy aims to make each young athlete's experience a personal one. Their four- or six-week camps are taught by local instructors who are current or former coaches at the high school or college level, and typically offer a 6:1 or better player-to-teacher ratio for intense, professional-style training. The Academy's proven itinerary of hitting, pitching, fielding, and baserunning drills was developed by an advisory board of college coaches and Major League players, including Cy Young Award?winner and ace pitcher Brandon Webb.
The Harbison Community Association provides a venue for community members to work out and form bonds with their neighbors. The center maintains an indoor heated pool, a jacuzzi, and a baby pool. Members can build strength in the weight room and challenge their friends to a game on the racquetball court.
Wella Professionals School pampers heads with eye-catching coifs administered by student stylists who work under the supervision of licensed instructors. In the impressively large and open space, guests can choose their preferred treatment from the style menu, such as an invigorating shampoo and blow-dry for an instant makeover ideal for job interviews or before interviewing potential dates in a bleakly lit warehouse ($10). Student scissor wizards snip unruly locks into sleekly styled cranial carpets, and a licensed instructor calmly offers professional advice ($10). For a revamped color scheme or to mask the aftermath of late-night leopard-spot hair tattoos, guests can choose to douse tresses in a single process color ($25–$35) or sprinkle light-catching strands among already luminous follicles with partial high or low lights ($25).