By Courtney Hammett ‘19
Converse alumna Anna Kathryn Haverty Backer and husband Joe Backer first started their music lessons business during graduate school. The Backer Piano Studio grew to serve more than 60 students before they graduated, and within the two following years, Anna and Joe had laid the groundwork for opening the Cincinnati School of Music in Ohio.
“There is such a wealth of musical talent in Cincinnati, and we wanted to create a professional educational space where we and other professional musicians could share our talents and passions by teaching music to the community,” Anna said. Within the first year, they expanded into a larger facility, just as their first child was born.
Today, this power couple operates three music school locations. Awards and recognition include Ohio’s 50 Best Workplaces (two years in a row), Best Music Instruction in Cincy Magazine (four years in a row), and The Face of Music Instruction in Cincinnati Magazine. As facilities have expanded, so has their family, with a third child born in the summer of 2018. “It’s been an extraordinary journey, and while we are usually exhausted, we are happy and grateful for being able to do what we love,” says Anna.
After graduating from Converse in 2008 with a Bachelors of Music in Piano Performance and Piano Pedagogy, Anna earned two degrees: a Masters of Business, and a Masters in Arts Administration, at the University of Cincinnati’s Lindner College of Business and College Conservatory of Music, respectively. Anna appreciates Converse for its “outstanding faculty, smaller class sizes with individualized attention from professors and mentors, and more opportunities for me to perform and participate in local service and outreach projects.” While a student here, Anna enjoyed two study abroad opportunities, studying and performing choral music in Prague (Czech Republic) and also studying art history in France and Spain.
Dr. Douglas Weeks helped me transform my technique and musicality, pushing me to play and perform piano repertoire I never thought possible for me.
Anna says of Dr. Douglas Weeks, “Not only did he help me transform my technique and musicality, pushing me to play and perform piano repertoire I never thought possible for me, but he was also an essential mentor in my personal growth.” She also fondly remembers the music theory, composition, and music business courses taught by Dr. David Berry and Dr. Scott Robbins, which she calls “fun, entertaining, informative, and some of my favorite classroom memories.”
Anna remembers being “continually inspired by the women around me, my own classmates and those in classes ahead of me, women who were doing big things, who were competing and winning debates on the Model Arab League, who were organizing groups to serve the community, and who were starting their own local business, just to name a few examples.” It’s this culture of success that equipped her with the tools to open the Cincinnati School of Music, through which she passes on the same love of music and teaching that she experienced at Converse.