Hannah Horine has been playing piano since age 6 and teaching others to play the instrument since age 13. She has found that teaching, in many different forms and settings, has made her a better musician.
“I find it helpful to put into words and communicate all the things I do,” she says.
She started out with the encouragement of her father, a talented pianist who passed along his love of the instrument. After progressing through years of lessons, her musical ambitions took a major step forward during her junior year of high school: she switched private teachers, and she joined an advanced study ensemble at Settlement Music School, teaming up with the members of the Gabriel Braverman Advanced Study String Quartet to perform quintets by Shostakovich and Dohnányi.
“I didn’t know if I had the talent to make music my career,” she says. “I figured I would go through auditions and see what would happen.”
The audition process, instead of being nerve-wracking, only made her love for music grow, and she ended up studying at the New England Conservatory of Music, followed by a master’s degree at Temple University.
Her experience at Temple provided Horine’s first exposure to group piano instruction, and upon returning to Settlement as a faculty member, she began piloting a new program in group piano instruction. She currently teaches two different age levels – 5-year-olds and 6-year-olds – who receive group experience in their first year of piano instruction. “I’m working to build a foundation where they can read all the notes on the staff and know all the terminology,” she says.
Horine has found that one key to building skills in a group setting is getting “as many different senses as possible” working as the students play: looking at the music, feeling the music as they clap the rhythms, counting out loud while playing, and listening to themselves and to one another.
Between her group classes and her individual students, Horine teaches more than 50 students each week, ranging in ages from 5 to over 60. She finds that each student is unique, but she attempts to balance high expectations with loving encouragement in order to help them find their own love for music.
Horine also emphasizes regular performances, including two studio-wide recitals each year. Though some students are shy or scared to perform in front of others, she often finds a way to get them excited to take the stage by playing a duet with them or arranging a favorite song for them to play. She says she’s seen first-year students’ faces light up at their first recital performance, and she uses each performance opportunity as a springboard to the next one.