Fremont music teacher retires
By Angie Landsverk
Barb Hahn’s final recital with her music students began with her picking up the instrument that started it all.
“This is what started it. I started out when I was 10 years old,” she said.
Hahn’s students gathered around her as she played two songs on her accordion.
Then it was time for her students to perform.
“The first six students on the program just began their lessons last fall, so this is their first recital,” Hahn said. “We’ve all been there.”
Malachi Robbert was first, and he played “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.”
Hahn sat in the front row, among the students.
“My heart pounds every time one gets up there,” she said. “I’m nervous for them.”
Many looked at her and smiled after they completed their pieces on the piano.
For more than 60 years, Hahn has been teaching music in the Fremont area.
“That’s how I got three generations in,” she said.
One such family was at Hahn-A-Lula Resort & Supper Club last Saturday, April 21 for Hahn’s 44th music recital with her students.
Bob Stevens was one of Hahn’s first students when she moved to the area.
“He was good,” she said.
Two of his sisters also took piano lessons with Hahn.
His two daughters did as well.
One of those daughters, Emmy Kiecker, was at the recital with her daughters, Isabella and Olivia.
They are among Hahn’s current students.
Kiecker took piano lessons for about five years when she was a child and wanted her children to do the same.
“It’s just an appreciation of music. It’s a skill you’ll always have,” she said.
Kiecker’s husband Josh took lessons with Hahn as well.
“I’ve had over 500 students is as near as I can figure,” Hahn said.
While most of her students take piano lessons, she also teaches guitar, organ and accordion.
Hahn is retiring after the end of this school year.
“I guess it was just time,” she said of her decision.
For the last six years, she has been traveling to two area schools for some of her students’ lessons.
That makes it convenient for the families, but driving in the winter is not nice, she says.
Hahn also continues to offer lessons out of her home in rural Fremont.
Love of music
Hahn grew up in Winchester and took accordion lessons at Becker’s Academy of Music, in Oshkosh.
“Accordions were so huge at the time,” she said. “There were all kinds of bands, including a marching band.”
By the time she was 16, the academy hired her to teach.
They taught her how to do so.
“It was mostly accordion in those days and then gradually piano,” she said.
After she and her husband Ken were married, they farmed south of Fremont.
Hahn began offering lessons here and continued to also teach at the academy two days a week.
She eventually taught her own children, as well as grandchildren, how to play piano.
“I never had to advertise for students,” she said. “It was word of mouth.”
While last weekend’s recital was the 44th one, the first one took place 50 years ago.
“In the beginning, I had a recital every other year,” she said.
After the number of students grew, she started having a recital every year.
“I usually had about 35 students per year,” Hahn said.
Nathan Hempel is one of her current students.
“She was a good teacher,” he said.
Hempel is an eighth grader at St. Peter Lutheran School, in Weyauwega and has been taking piano lessons for six years.
His brother Benjamin is also one of Hahn’s students.
Many of Hahn’s former students attended the April 21 recital, and some of them performed.
Karen Peters grew up with the Hahn family.
She and her four siblings all took piano lessons with Hahn at one time or another.
“Both of my brothers can pick up any instrument and play,” Peters said. “Then she had to suffer through us girls.”
Peters said, “ Barb was just an amazing teacher. I was about 7 when I started.”
A retired kindergarten teacher, Peters used her ability to play piano in the classroom.
Watching the recital brought back memories, as she recognized many of the songs.
“I enjoyed the littlest ones the best,” Peters said.
Chantel Mundschau had about 10 years of lessons with Hahn.
“I love music. It’s my relaxation, my stress reliever, so I still love to play.”
A break followed last Saturday’s recital before former students took the stage.
Mundschau played Frédéric Chopin’ Prelude in D Flat Major.
That’s the piece she played for her last recital, which was in 1995 when Mundschau was a senior in high school.
She thought it would be fun to play it again and said those feelings of nervousness returned when it was time for her to play.
Four of Mundschau’s five children also had lessons with Hahn.
“I wanted them to have that same gift and knowledge,” she said.
With students from throughout the area, Hahn had many goals for them.
“My main goal for all of these years has been to get the kids ready to play in their churches and schools,” she said.
Hahn said there is a need for it.
She also said there is a need for people to offer music lessons.
“There are some stepping up to the plate to continue lessons in the area,” Hahn said. “It’s a nice area, because parents are interested in having their children learn.”
She said it is always possible to learn, regardless of ones age.
For children in particular, music helps them in school, Hahn said.
She said it helps them concentrate.
“Music is just like math. It’s so precise,” she said.
Hahn has loved teaching.
“I love the kids,” she said. “It’s been my honor all these years to know the kids – and their kids.”
She described the last recital with her students as “awesome” and said it was rewarding to see the first students perform and many of her former students return to play.
“It’s been a wonderful, wonderful experience to live here and teach here,” Hahn said.