ALISON BARR’S early musical training was under John Markarian, Music Director of the Westwood, Massachusetts Public Schools and in the Extension Program of New England Conservatory of Music in Boston. In those two venues, she studied piano, flute, music theory, choral singing, accompanying and ensemble playing. A graduate of The University of Maine at Orono with Highest Honors and Highest Distinction (BS, Music Education with a concentration in Piano Performance, 1976) and Boston University (MM in Piano Performance, 1983,) her primary teachers were Anthony DiBonaventura, Kathryn Ann Foley, Richard Roberts and Alexandra Jaskolski. She especially acknowledges her first piano teacher, Elizabeth Swist Holderried from Westwood, Massachusetts.
Ms. Barr owns and operates an independent studio in Hanover, Massachusetts, where she teaches forty students of all ages and levels. She is proud to have been named “2013 Teacher of the Year” by the Massachusetts Music Teachers Association. Her teaching specializations include middle school, high school and avocational adult students. For 24 years, she maintained a multi-teacher studio in Brookline, Mass. She holds the Music Teachers National Association National Certificate in piano and recently completed a position as MTNA’s Eastern Division Certification Commissioner. She is Newsletter Editor for the Massachusetts Music Teachers Association and is also active in the South Shore Music Teachers Association.
Ms. Barr has recently created, with the support of Massachusetts Music Teachers Association, MMTA’s Music Connect Program, which provides full private lesson scholarships to deserving students of MMTA teachers. Her “Music for Good” social action curriculum component encourages her piano students to think of ways to use their music to make the world a better place.
An inveterate writer and commentator, Ms. Barr’s article, “Wild Rider in a Strange Land – Sustaining Relevance in the Independent Studio,” appeared in the April/May 2016 issue of American Music Teacher.AM16_Barr “Reversing the Pyramid — Maintaining High School Students in the Independent Studio,” was named 2008 Article of the Year for the same publication. Other publications include a book, “Successful Studio Teaching,” and numerous articles in “Clavier,” “American Music Teacher,” “Keyboard Companion,” and “Massachusetts Music News.” Ms. Barr serves frequently as a collaborative pianist, lecturer, adjudicator and choral pianist in the Boston area.
Her professional appointments include State President for both the Maine and Massachusetts Music Teachers Associations and Independent Music Teachers Forum Chairperson for Music Teachers National Association. Ms. Barr has developed a series of humorous and engaging lectures in music appreciation entitled, “Joyful Listening!” which she has taught not only in the Boston area and but also at the Avocational Adult Piano Workshop held in Kromeriz, Czech Republic in August, 2002 and 2003. Ms. Barr also originated the “Midsummer Adult Piano Retreat,” which began in July 2006, and continues to serve as a faculty member for the workshop every summer at Williams College in the Berkshire region of Massachusetts. Her newest venture, the “Midwinter Adult Piano Retreat,” is held in Lake Worth, Florida, each January. Currently she is writing a book, “Me and My Piano Teacher,” a compilation of photos and dialog between piano teachers and their now adult students.
Ms. Barr’s community and social action work includes active volunteering for DOVE in Quincy, as a Big Sister and on the South Shore YMCA’s Capital Campaign Committee. She is also an active volunteer for the James Library Center for the Arts in Norwell, Mass.
Ms. Barr’s passions include gardening, swimming, traveling, writing, and tennis. Her son, Ben, graduated from the University of Hartford and currently works in Boston. Her husband, Brad, works for the U.S.’s National Marine Sanctuary Program. She lives and teaches in her 1774 home in Hanover, with her husband and cats, Zoey and Rory.