This interview is from a feature in Beaver’s 2014-15 Performing Arts brochure.
Hannah Carr joined Beaver as the Choral Director at the start of the 2013-14 school year. In just one school year, she has revolutionized the choral curriculum, adding two new choir groups as well as a new class on choral music theory.
And that’s just beginning.
“I would love to have an all-male chorus, an all-female chorus, a co-ed chorus, advanced ensembles to take to competitions – basically a wide-range of entry levels for students,” Carr said.
With the addition of the choral music theory class – which teaches students how to read sheet music – Carr hopes to give students the tools to learn music on their own and the skills to succeed in any choir.
When my students graduate, my goal is for them to be able to audition into any college chorus, at any level, and for them to form their own vocal groups, outside of the college curriculum, she said.
Her current students talk excitedly about how she challenges them and describe her as an energetic teacher with a lot of pride in what she does.
“Each day I walk into Ms. Carr’s room, I immediately feel a sense of relief and my mood improves,” said Samantha Mills ’17. “No matter what, I know I will always have fun in class and get to practice multiple songs, while learning how to better blend, shape my vowels, and increase the sound of my voice without pushing.”
Carr’s own passion for choir started at 10-years-old, when – in her hometown of Limerick, Ireland – she heard a renaissance chorus.
“I just thought to myself, ‘I need to do that,’” Carr said.
So she did. Carr joined that choir and stayed with them for 10 years. She then went on to receive her BA in Music from Trinity College in Dublin and studied conducting for two years at the Kodaly Institute of Liszt Academy in Hungary. Most recently, before coming to Beaver, Carr taught at the Dalton School in New York City. Carr said she enjoys teaching at high schools because it’s a good age for molding a chorus.
“High school age singers are advanced enough in their learning that they can take on complicated music but they’re still young enough that they’re willing to take risks,” she said.
In her teaching, Carr doesn’t focus on one style of music but instead believes in exposing her students to just about every genre that’s appropriate for choral music – from pop to jazz to classical to world.
“It’s important to embrace a wide-range of musical experiences, and appreciate what makes each one special,” she said.