Stephanie Curcio reflects on a career of teaching and learning about human behavior.
A waiting list is something you usually encounter at a trendy new restaurant or prestigious preschool or maybe the hot new yoga studio everyone is talking about. But a waiting list for a harp studio? You don’t often hear of that. A waiting list for a harp studio in rural New Hampshire? More unlikely still. But that’s what we found when my mother contacted Stephanie Curcio about private harp lessons for me.
A native of New York City, Stephanie Curcio entered the High School of Music and Art, now known as the Lincoln Center School for the Arts, as a piano student. It was there that she discovered the harp and began group classes with Beverly Mann, a harpist for the original production of the musical The Fantasticks. Shortly thereafter, she interviewed with Carlos Salzedo and ultimately studied privately with Lucile Lawrence, coaching with Salzedo and later attending his Camden Harp Colony. She continued on to Marymount College, Tarrytown, where she triple-majored in harp, piano, and psychology. She completed a master’s degree in psychology—specifically human learning—at Fordham University.
An expert teacher, Stephanie has routinely worked with talented students from all parts of New England. Having been on faculty at the University of New Hampshire as well as several local preparatory schools, she gradually built a strong reputation. Her pupils have gone on to the finest conservatories in the world, and have consistently won awards, competitions, and other recognition.
A prolific composer and arranger as well, Stephanie is best known for her pedagogical series Student Harpist. In 1989 she began her own publishing company, and has written a vast collection of pieces for beginner and intermediate students.
In June, Stephanie held what she refers to as a “retrospective concert” to mark her “pseudo-retirement.” Current and former students played her music as she detailed her life and career for friends, family, and students. This provided the perfect opportunity for me to sit down with my long-time teacher and give Harp Column readers a glimpse behind the music.
Harp Column: How did you manage to make a full-time career out of teaching? How did you start teaching, and how did you come to devote your full attention towards it?
Stephanie Curcio: Right out of grad school, I was a teacher of special education and things like that, but on the side I always taught a little piano here, a little harp there. When I had children, I wanted to teach so that I could pursue my profession and still be a mother at home. I built up a little studio when we lived in New Jersey, and then I moved to New Hampshire and did the same thing here. I was really the only game in town for a while in New Hampshire. Everywhere I played, people would come up and they would say, “I’ve always wanted to play the harp. Do you teach?” So it gradually built up.