Making beautiful music together

Couple finds harmony in life, and in Fairfield School of Music

Tracy and Dan Carlucci, partners in ownership of the Fairfield School of Music, and in life. (Laura Modlin Photo)

Instructor Kenny Owens works with Tommy Flynn during a drum lesson at the Fairfield School of Music. (Laura Modlin Photo)

Instructor Devon Breen oversees a piano lesson for Catherine Melody, Drew Rogers and Amelia Melody at the Fairfield School of Music. (Laura Modlin Photo)

Amy Flynn and Ryan Flynn wait in the reception area at the Fairfield School of Music. (Laura Modlin Photo)

Dan and Tracy Carlucci have been making beautiful music together for 13 years — first as friends, then dating, and finally, as of last year, as husband and wife, and as partners in Fairfield School of Music.

It has been a year of adjusting to new roles as business partners and marriage partners. The school, located at 338 Commerce Drive, opened Sept. 8, 2012, just a month after the Carluccis, who live in Black Rock, tied the knot.

The most challenging part for Tracy — who has been teaching piano since she was a junior at Lauralton Hall and, more recently, had a successful music studio in Greenfield Hill for eight years and spent five years as organist and musical director at Christ Church of Easton — was having a business partner.

“Learning to work together took time,” she said.

This was at the same time as they were settling into their new roles of being married.

“We had to separate the business and being husband and wife,” Dan said.

Dan was born into a musical family and has been a musician since age 7, when he first took up piano. He has since taught and played guitar in and around Fairfield County for many years, and is currently in the String Fingers Band.

This is Dan’s first business enterprise. And both Tracy and he are rising to the occasion.

“I had to learn to take a step back,” Tracy said of not doing 100% of the work.

The opening chord

The idea for the school started taking form two years ago.

“One day I said to Dan I wanted to go to a conference,” Tracy said.

She showed him a flyer about a conference in Chicago that covered the business of starting a successful music school.

“I always had a waiting list and had thought about expanding,” Tracy said of her music studio.

Tracy already had decided she wanted to start a school, but Dan came on board during that conference.

“In the middle of the conference, I said, ‘Hey, we can do this.’ On the ride home, we decided to do it,” Dan recalled.

By last summer, they were together 24/7, working 16-hour days.

“I was afraid we were burning the candle at both ends,” Tracy said.

People would ask them what it was like to be married in the weeks following their Aug. 4, 2012, wedding.

“We said we wouldn’t know,” Tracy said.

The first few months of their marriage were more about getting their school up and running.

“By winter we were finally able to take a step back,” Tracy said.

But even before then they had a forced hiatus. When Superstorm Sandy hit Fairfield at the end of October last year, they had to close for a week when the electricity went out in the school.

“It was a blessing in disguise,” Dan said. “We got to take a step back and digest being new business owners.”

The importance of music

Dan and Tracy hope that music lessons at their school will have a positive impact on people’s lives.

“From my perspective, apart from the intrinsic value [of music], the changes it can make, music builds confidence and self-expression,” Tracy said.

She said that in this “day and age of instant gratification,” with devices such as smartphones, learning to play music is an opportunity to learn in a meaningful way, to practice and perfect.

“[Nothing beats] the feeling you get from working on something for a long period of time,” Tracy said.

She was inspired to achieve her full potential by early teachers and still remembers the importance for her of their nurturing.

“It’s funny what a little spark of something can produce,” Tracy said.

And she hopes that the school’s students — currently numbered at more than 150 and ranging in age from 1 to 70 — will reach for their own highest ideals.

“I want to impart to our students that the only limits we have are self-imposed,” Tracy said.

Whatever level or whatever interest in music, Dan hopes that their school will be a driving force for self-expression.

“Our aim is nurturing the musician within,” Dan said.

The lessons

There are currently 15 independent contractor teachers at the nearly 3,000-square-foot school. Since the school is near the Fairfield Metro train station, the Carluccis are able to attract teachers from other areas in addition to local musicians.

Instructors hail from such prestigious schools as the Juilliard School, Berklee College of Music, New School University, and Yale University. All faculty members have music education and performance backgrounds and share a common passion for teaching music.

Facilities include 10 studios and a recital room.

Students may opt for group or individual lessons, traditional programs or programs from the Simply Music organization.

“Simply Music Piano has been very popular with our students,” Tracy said. “It makes playing the piano so accessible and simple, which breeds confidence and success.”

By temporarily delaying the reading process, Simply Music instruction teaches students to play “great-sounding music” right away.

“It’s really a natural way of learning, similar to how children learn to speak before they learn to read or write,” Tracy said.

Fairfield School of Music offers instruction in all instruments, including voice, piano, guitar, bass, drums, brass, woodwinds, and strings.

Students of all ages gain experience performing throughout the year. These opportunities range from informal events like Open Mic Nights and the Halloween Howl — costumes encouraged — to more formal events, such as winter and spring recitals.

Information is available at fairfieldschoolofmusic.org or 203-690-1888.

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