Teacher stories 2: Singing the joy that surrounds us

Carol Horrigan, pianist and music teacher
“And everyday, we hope for
What we still can’t see.
It’s up to us, to be the change,
And even though we all can still do more, t
here’s so much to be thankful for…”
–from “Thankful,” by Josh Groban




Today’s teacher story today features Carol Horrigan, the chorus teacher at Huth Road Elementary School. This is the second interview in a series that I plan to continue through the school year. Because I am the editor of the Huth Road Elementary School PTA’s newsletter, I have the opportunity to interview teachers so that people could can get to know the teachers a little better. Unfortunately, there is not enough space in the newsletter to tell the teachers’ complete stories. I hope that you enjoy reading the teachers’ stories.

How did you decide to become a
teacher?
I
love to play the piano. I was a piano major at the State University of New York
at Fredonia, and I was going to be a concert pianist. I decided to have music
education in my pocket, so that was my plan until I student taught. I was thinking:
Oh, this is why! I loved it. I wasn’t going to be a teacher until I got into
student teaching. I also teach piano lessons.
How long have you taught at
Huth Road Elementary School?
I have
been teaching at Huth Road for 31 years. Before that, I taught at Brocton and
at Gowanda.
Tell me about teaching at the
elementary school level.
I
absolutely wanted to go for elementary. I love Huth Road. I loved it the day I
got the job, and I still love coming to school. It’s an exciting adventure. It’s
a lot of music appreciation in general music class because I feel that’s what
my job is, not just to teach them to sing well but to appreciate all different
kinds of music.
The
kids have been good. They seem eager to come down to music and they are
enthusiastic. I love Huth Road kids. The second graders seem that they very
much love music. When they come in here, they’re all about soaking it in. We
dance, we do Zumba all of the time because they need to move. I change words to
pop songs so that they are more appropriate. We sing, dance, read stories about
composers, and listen to good singing choirs so we know how we should sound.
What types of music do the
kids sing?
We do
jazz and inspirational and meaningful songs. I always pick a fun song for the
chorus and a serious song. The fun song is the hook, but it ends up that the
kids love the meaningful one.
Do the kids perform at Christmas time?
We
have a fun concert, with songs like “Santa Claus Boogie” and “Mrs. Claus.” The boys
are singing “Away from the Mistletoe.” The Select Choir is singing a beautiful
song, called “I see a star.” They will end the concert with “Always Believe”
and “Mostly What I wish for.” They’re really nice.
Tell me about your two
Concerts of Hope (2011 and 2015), which featured choral groups from Huth Road Elementary School, Grand Island High School, the Grand Island Community Chorus, and the Pink Chorus (a community chorus that Carol Horrigan organized for the concerts). What motivated you to plan these concerts?
I had
breast cancer in 2010. When you’re diagnosed with something like that, you have
no control over anything. Those concerts made me feel that I had a little
control in giving hope to people. It’s been six and half years since my
diagnosis. I am truly glad that I did those two concerts because it was a
wonderful feeling. We raised $6,000 the first time and gave it to Mary’s Room
at Mount Saint Mary and the Buffalo Medical Group. After the second concert, we
gave the money that was raised to the Make a Wish Foundation and to Relay for
Life.

The concerts were very moving. They are something that
I will remember.
Who are some of your favorite
composers?
 
Frederic Chopin, Claude Debussy, and George Gershwin.


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