Up-Tempo: Academy Choir Accompanist Rebecca Plummer Burns Rubber

Choir accompanist Rebecca Plummer and Choir director Abbey Siegfried both came to Andover after working at Phillips Exeter Academy for a number of years.

Gripping the wheel of her Honda S2000, Rebecca Plummer, Instructor in Music and piano accompanist of the Academy Choir, weaves in and out of cones on a makeshift racetrack. In her four years of race car driving, Plummer has found parallels between racing and her passion for music.

Plummer said, “I think [the connection is] the adrenaline rush. Not only driving fast cars, but I get a big adrenaline rush when I perform music … So, in music, when I’ve used my skill to accomplish something — pitches are good, or I’ve got the speed that I want on a piano, I get the same feeling when I’ve gone around a corner and done it really perfectly. I get that same, ‘Yeah!’ — that adrenaline rush. [When] I’ve done it right, I’ve practiced – that’s the accomplishment.”

At the urging of her son, an avid race car driver, Plummer joined an autocross group in Ayer, Massachusetts. She attends as often as her schedule allows in the spring, summer, and fall.

“We go out to Fort Devens in Ayer and set up cones as an autocross course and then race around as fast as we can and learn more about car racing… My son is an incredible race car driver, and he encouraged my husband and myself to get involved and even talked us into buying a race car,” said Plummer.

Plummer shares her affinity for race cars with Christina Landolt, Instructor and Chair in Music, who worked on a pit crew in California the summer before she came to Andover. Like Plummer, Landolt noticed connections between racing and music.

Landolt said, “I used to work on a pit crew in California, so [Plummer] and I enjoy fast cars … Because I wasn’t driving the cars [like Plummer], it’s a little bit of a different thing. Maybe it’s similar in that I’m also a composer, so I like to see how things work… so that’s pretty funny to think of it that way.”

Before developing her interest in racing, Plummer decided to pursue a career in music. After working as an adjunct music instructor at Phillips Exeter Academy for 24 years, Plummer decided to come to Andover. In her six years at Andover, Plummer has enjoyed being a part of what she sees as the school’s friendly community.

“The atmosphere at Andover is just instantly warm and welcoming. Perhaps it’s that I’m more involved in the community than I was at Exeter, and that’s just wholly because I’ve chosen to be more active at Andover. But I continue to feel that Andover has a really special and warm atmosphere that people feel instantly when they come on campus,” said Plummer.

At Andover, Plummer gives piano lessons, coaches chamber music ensembles, and accompanies student recitals on piano. In addition to these roles, Plummer has especially enjoyed her time working with the chorus.

“It’s just a teacher’s dream for students to come in wanting to learn every day and wanting to be challenged every day. As an adult who really feels that teaching is a high calling, it’s extremely satisfying to be able to fulfill that role for them,” said Plummer.

Chorus Co-Head Jeffrey Steele ’20 works with Plummer in leading the choral program. According to Steele, Plummer manages to encourage the chorus while keeping the students focused on their work.

“Ms. Plummer is a very sweet person. She helps the chorus stay in line. With a bunch of free-spirited people, it’s nice to have someone who will keep us grounded and make sure that we are still staying on task. She’s so willing to give to [us] everything that we need, whether that just be music, support, or encouragement. She is just a wonderful presence to have in the room at all times,” said Steele.

Before discovering her passion for music, Plummer quit playing piano several times and even considered attending medical school. One day, however, Plummer suddenly realized that music was her calling.

Plummer said, “I realized music was picking me as a profession, I wasn’t picking music… I just finally listened to the voice in my head that said, ‘You have to do this. You have to create music.’ And I realized that music is a calling that you don’t choose, but it chooses you.”