Musician Interview: Ms. Curran


Divya Agrawal

Louise Choi ‘17

Ms. Curran, a devoted music teacher and professional violinist, is currently teaching her twenty-third year at Ridge High School. She has helped send many of her students to prestigious music schools, well-known youth orchestras in New Jersey, and to Region II, All-State, and All-National Orchestras. When not teaching, she performs as a free-lance musician in the tri-state area.

Louise Choi (Reporter): Which courses do you teach at Ridge? Could you give a brief description of these courses?

Ms. Curran: I teach four classes: Enjoyment of Music, a course that educates students about the history of music in a similar way to how colleges teach; Chamber Orchestra, a string orchestra that consists of freshmen and sophomores; Symphony Orchestra, a full orchestra consisting of junior and senior string players, as well as winds, brass, and percussion that come in twice a week; and Lessons, which occur once a week during students’ lunch periods where I teach smaller groups of students.

LC: Speaking of orchestras, are you involved in any musical organizations outside of teaching at Ridge High School?

Ms. Curran: I am a freelance violinist, which means I play for various orchestras and people in the Greater Trenton Area. I am a member of Newtown Chamber Orchestra, Delaware Valley Philharmonic and the Greater Trenton Symphony Orchestra

LC: Where do you find musical inspiration?

Ms. Curran: I find musical inspiration from my students’ willingness to learn; outside endeavors, such as when my students perform at prestigious places and events; when my students are awarded for their talent, such as for the Governor’s School for the Arts; and from my fellow colleagues Mrs. Retzko, Mrs. Plagge and Mr. Zugale.

LC: When did you discover your passion for music, and why did you decide to become a professional musician and a music teacher?

Ms. Curran: I discovered my love and passion for music probably around when I was three, and, frankly speaking, I originally wanted to become a professional violinist and play in an orchestra … until my first year teaching at college. After realizing that my gift for teaching was bigger than originally thought, I decided to become a music teacher instead, and still fulfill my passion to perform by freelancing on violin in my free time.

LC: What are some of your biggest successes as a professional musician or a music teacher?

Ms. Curran: When I was invited to conduct Region II and Region III Intermediate Orchestras. I also thoroughly enjoyed having Dr. Sandra Dackow come in and work with the Ridge Orchestras. She thinks we have such a fantastic program. This is such a high compliment coming from her.  I’ve also encountered memorable experiences from teaching at a music camp called the American String Teachers Association (ASTA) that used to run at Rowan University. Most importantly, when I played with the Philadelphia Youth Orchestra from 1986-1993, it was incredible because I was able to travel to places such as South America and Germany while I was doing what I loved, which is playing as a violinist in a Symphony Orchestra.

LC: What is your favorite part of being a music teacher?

Ms. Curran: I love seeing how the students enjoy themselves on the stage as much as I enjoy myself. I think it’s a magical experience for everyone and an even more of an outer-body experience for [me] as I glance around the gleaming and excited faces on my students. It really gets the adrenaline going.

LC: What are some of your favorite orchestral pieces, or musical pieces in general (for example, concertos, duet music, etc.)?

Ms. Curran: I’m fond of anything by Brahms, Rimsky-Korsakov, and Tchaikovsky, who are all leading composers of the Romantic Era [a period when composers shifted their attention towards evoking intense emotions from the audience]. The Romantic Era is my favorite musical era, because it has many emotional and passionate aspects.

LC: Lastly, do you have any advice you would like to offer to students who are thinking about becoming music teachers or professional musicians?

Ms. Curran: Yes. For those students who want to become music teachers, I strongly believe that you should stay the course. Even though there are so many changes that are happening to the education field, it is still such a rewarding profession. Also, stick with what you love to do, regardless of others’ opinions and attitudes towards your dream. And lastly, don’t do it for the money; instead, teach out of your love and passion for music. As for being a professional musician, many orchestras are folding due to the rough economy. Again, don’t decide to become a professional musician out of the alluring dream of fame and money. Only become a professional musician if you truly enjoy playing music.

The Ridge Music Department has many great electives and opportunities for performing in an ensemble of your choice. Come out also to enjoy a wonderful night of music at the Spring Orchestra Concert on Thursday, June 5th at 7 PM.