Hannah Birrell | TrinityTalent 2021

TrinityTalent celebrates Hannah Birrell for her Leadership in Music – Classical and Jazz.

Hannah Birrell | TrinityTalent 2021

19-year-old Hannah was nominated for TrinityTalent due to her exceptional Leadership skills. Whilst completing her Grade 8 Recorder exam, Hannah also took on the role of choir director, leader, arranger and accompanist. She also ran the junior choir for 11 to 13-year-olds in her school and these weekly rehearsals were consistently well attended.

She was nominated by Simon Burvill, Director of Music at Simon Langton Girls' Grammar School, who said: "Hannah is always willing to try something new in music and goes out of her way to help others. She is undoubtedly a very creative, imaginative and talented musician."

The TrinityTalent panel said: "The breadth of work Hannah is doing with young people is very impressive. She's committed and shows a real passion for music and sharing it with others. We are excited to see what she does next!"

How do you feel about being selected to be part of TrinityTalent Class of 2021 and being recognised in this way?

I feel very fortunate and lucky to be part of the most wonderful music department at school. I choose to do all my musical extras because of the sheer amount of enjoyment and happiness it brings me. Ever since joining the school I have taken part in as many choirs, ensembles and extra things as possible, and I noticed how much happier I was.

I have grown a lot both as a musician and as a person and I have learnt so many valuable skills and had so many incredible memories with some amazing friends. Now I am able to run groups myself, it is a pleasure to see this happen to students in the younger year groups. It is a delight to run the junior choir and help out in the department and see people make friends and sing with such smiles on their faces. So, to be recognised for something that brings me such joy means a lot to me.

How do you feel you have developed creatively and artistically in 2021?

Being given more responsibilities within the school and in my music department has allowed me to channel my creativity in different ways, such as arranging pieces for my school choirs and orchestra. I have been able to experiment with harmonies and texture and I have also found that my piano skills have greatly improved since accompanying the junior choir. In addition, although it was heart breaking to have to do all of our music remotely over the pandemic rather than in person, it did allow me to learn new music technology skills, and even video editing skills, so I could put together a few remote choir videos for our music department’s Facebook page. In 2021, I was also able to be part of the sound team for a couple of local theatre productions. I have been able to continue that into this year and it is really good fun and has made me think it is something I want to do as a career.

What impact did your Trinity qualification achievement have on your artistic development?

Playing the recorder has allowed me to play music from many different eras and in many different styles. It has also opened doors to new ways to be expressive - something that was really important in the Trinity exam. My teacher taught me to imagine different phrases in my pieces that were played by different instruments in the orchestra. This really helped to give each phrase a different character and emotion, and it also helped to have an image to focus on to avoid getting nervous in performances. And, of course studying for the exam greatly improved my technique and performance skills, which has in turn allowed me to progress to different instruments.

Has taking part in a Trinity qualification helped you to develop wider skills, such as communication skills, creativity or confidence?

Yes, I would say it certainly improved my confidence to perform solo. It also helped with self confidence and self belief. I thought my Grade 8 exam went dreadfully but in the end the mark I got was miles above how I thought I had done. It will be something to remember going forward if I lose confidence in my ability.

If you took a digital music exam, please tell us how you found the experience of recording your performance

I’m a nervous performer when I'm performing solos, so the fact I could do it in the comfort of my music teacher’s house was beneficial. It also removed the pressure that there was only one go.

What are the next steps for you artistically and creatively in 2022?

I want to create more arrangements for junior choir and other ensembles within the school. I also want to improve my conducting and continue to develop my teaching skills when I work through my arrangements with the choir. I will also be completing my Music Tech A-Level coursework so that will be one of my main creative projects for this half of the year. I feel I am less strong on composition, so it will be a challenging yet valuable project to work on! In September, I will be going to university so I will be trying to get myself into many music activities at uni, and hopefully in the wider community too. If I find anything close to what I have been lucky enough to experience through my school music department, I will be really fortunate and happy.

What are your longer term aims, for example for your future studies or work?

To be honest, I am not exactly sure, but I do know it has to be music related! I have been loving being part of the sound tech team for local theatre productions, so to be a sound technician on a West End show would be a dream! Or anything to do with music behind the scenes in theatre - it would be such a fabulous community to be a part of. I do know at some point down the road I would love to be a music teacher and hopefully spark in others what my music teachers have in me. I recognise how much of a difference they have made to my life and my friends’ lives too, so I would love to try and do the same one day.

Have you got any advice for other young people working towards a Trinity qualification?

You should always take a step back if playing music is giving you stress, rather than relieving it. Never let the stress or pressure of an exam get in the way of your love for music. Play and sing because you love it, because it’s fun, and because you want to. I have learnt that in turn this makes me play much better and I am happier because of it. And, if you are ever stuck on anything, break it down into small chunks. This may be focusing on one bar at a time, or focusing on rhythm then the pitches, etc. Don’t let a big passage overwhelm you - always break it down. This is something I have applied to many other areas of my life too and I always notice the difference it makes.

Is there anything creative you’re currently working on you’d like to tell us about?

I am currently adding the finishing touches to an orchestral arrangement of music from my favourite ever video game - Super Mario Galaxy! I arranged it specifically for our school orchestra so I could design it to suit our strengths, preferences, and our instrument balance. It is amazing to see it come to life every week in rehearsal and I am really enjoying conducting it too. I am also working on something new for the junior choir. The rehearsals are always the highlight of my week so it is always exciting to bring a new piece out

Read more about the talented young people selected to be featured as part of the TrinityTalent Class of 2021.


Trinity Talent

Trinity Talent

TrinityTalent celebrates talented young people achieving Trinity’s music, drama and Arts Award qualifications in the UK.

Teachers and students can nominate young artists aged 13-25 who have shown excellence in one of the following categories during 2021: CREATIVE FLAIR | PROGRESS | LEADERSHIP

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