Our Studio

The University of Arizona harp studio includes undergraduate, masters, and doctoral students from across the globe. As a student here, you will receive weekly private lessons, studio class, harp pedagogy, orchestral coaching, mock auditions, masterclasses with guest artists, workshops on special topics, and numerous opportunities to perform in a variety of high-level ensembles.

Students are encouraged to seek further development through young artist competitions, summer festivals, master class performances, and scholarly publications. All harp students are also members of HarpFusion, a world-renowned, touring harp ensemble for which the students arrange and compose all genres of repertoire. Come be part of the adventure!

Apply to the Fred Fox School of Music by following the instructions on the admissions page of the FFSoM Website and please visit our Auditions page for the current list of required repertoire.

Student Highlights

Marina Tiffany at AHS!

Congratulations to undergraduate student, Marina Tiffany, who received 4th prize in the 2021 American Harp Society National Competition, Intermediate II Division!

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Yvonne Cox (BM 2020)

Yvonne Cox (BM 2020) was accepted into the MM program at the New England Conservatory! She began her MM studies with Jessica Zhou (Principal Harp, Boston Symphony Orchestra) in fall 2021.

Victoria Gonzalez (BM 2021)

Congratulations to Victoria Gonzalez, who graduated Summa Cum Laude in spring 2021 with a BM in Music Performance and a BA in East Asian Cultural Studies! Victoria began her MM in fall 2021 studying with Dr. Jaymee Haefner at the University of North Texas.

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Marina Tiffany

Marina Tiffany won top prizes in several competitions: Phoenix Harp Society’s 2020 Young Artist Competition (1st place), Phoenix Youth Symphony Competition (3rd place), and AMEA Solo and Ensemble Festival (Tier 3.)

She began her undergraduate program in harp performance at the University of Arizona in fall 2020.

Alumni Around the Globe

We’re compiling alumni stories! If you graduated from the Harp Studio, let us know what you’re up to!

Photo of Vanessa SheldonVanessa Sheldon

Vanessa Sheldon (DMA, 2005) is Associate Professor and Chair of Music at Mt. San Jacinto College, a community college in San Jacinto, California. Dr. Sheldon was the university’s youngest doctoral recipient, at the age of 19. She also served as Dr. McLaughlin’s teaching assistant from 2002-2005. As part of her current position, Dr. Sheldon established a new tradition of programming a harp concerto for the college orchestra each March. They presented the Concerto in B-flat Major by Handel in March 2018 and dedicated that performance to Dr. McLaughlin. In March 2022, they will premiere a new harp concerto by Peggy Falkenstein.

Dr. Michelle Gott

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Music Bldg, Room 215

Michelle Gott is an award-winning and versatile harpist active in the United States and Canada. An experienced orchestral musician, Ms. Gott has subbed extensively with the National Arts Centre Orchestra, including their Canada 150 Tour to the Atlantic Provinces. She has also worked with the major orchestras of New York, Boston, St. Louis, Houston, Phoenix, Toronto, and Vancouver. She has been a featured soloist at the National Arts Centre and the National Art Gallery in Ottawa, as well as with the Newfoundland Symphony Orchestra and the Atlantic String Quartet. As winner of the 2009 Juilliard Concerto Competition, she made her Lincoln Center debut at Alice Tully Hall performing Mozart’s Concerto for Flute and Harp. Ms. Gott has also performed for productions on Broadway, including The Producers and The Fantastiks and for artists such as Diana Krall and Olivia Newton-John.

An avid performer of contemporary music, Ms. Gott has worked closely with many composers including Andrew Staniland, Roddy Ellias, Virko Baley, Ursula Mamlok, Anthony Cheung, Nico Muhly, and David Fulmer. Notable performances include the 2018 premiere of Ellias’ Sleeping Rough, a modern-day opera combining classical, jazz and popular music as well as puppetry. She can also be heard on recordings of John Adams’ Scheherazade.2 with the St. Louis Symphony (February 2016), Walter Boudreau’s Concerto de l’asile with the National Arts Centre Orchestra (February 2018), and on Anthony Cheung’s Centripedalocity with the Talea Ensemble. Other projects include the premiere of Exit Eden for flute and harp, by Juno-nominated composer Andrew Staniland, commissioned and presented by the National Arts Centre Orchestra in July 2017, as well as the world premiere of Nico Muhly’s opera, Dark Sisters (2011) in New York City.

A winner of numerous national competitions in the US, Ms. Gott is also a recipient of Juilliard's Peter Mennin Prize for Outstanding Leadership and Achievement in the Arts as well as the Richard F. French grant for her doctoral document research on the music of Canadian composer R. Murray Schafer. Originally from Las Vegas, Ms. Gott began harp studies at the age of four with her late mother, Caryn Wunderlich-Gott. She then went on to study with Nancy Allen at The Juilliard School where she completed three degrees (BM, MM, DMA). As an educator, she served as director of harp ensembles from 2013-2018 for the Ottawa Youth Orchestra Academy and on faculty at the University of Ottawa. She joined the University of Arizona (Tucson) as Assistant Professor of Harp in August 2018.

In Memoriam Dr. Carrol McLaughlin

Carrol McLaughlin performed extensively as a soloist and with orchestras throughout North and South America, Europe, Japan, Indonesia, Hong Kong, Taiwan, China, India, and Russia. Her performing career included concerto performances with the Kyoto Symphony, Japan; the St. Petersburg Symphony, Russia; the Cairo Philharmonic, the Orchestra de Santiago in Santiago, Chile, and many others.

She gave solo recitals in Carnegie Hall, New York; Wigmore Hall, London; Casals Hall, Tokyo, the Cairo Opera House in Egypt and the National Concert Hall in Taipei, Taiwan. She was featured as the opening recitalist at the World Harp Congress in Copenhagen and the American Harp Society National Conference in Denver, Colorado. She was also featured at the Vera Dulova Festival in Moscow, the World Harp Congresses in Prague, Geneva, Dublin and Amsterdam, the Lily Laskine Festival in Paris, the Soka City Festival in Japan and festivals in Europe, China, Hong Kong, Korea, Indonesia, Serbia and Brazil.

Carrol studied harp in London with Maria Korchinska, has a Master of Music Degree from Juilliard with Susann McDonald and Doctor of Musical Arts from the University of Arizona, where she was Distinguished Professor of Harp, heading one of the most respected harp departments in the United States. She was a Fulbright Senior Scholar to Egypt and received numerous awards from the University of Arizona, including the Five Star Teaching Award, Graduate and Undergraduate Teaching Awards, and the prestigious Koffler Prize for Outstanding Teaching.

A prolific composer and writer, Carrol published books, music, and 15 CD’s. Carrol was an expert in Neuro Linguistic Programming and her book Power Performance is used world-wide as a guide to performance excellence, allowing musicians to learn and perform at their highest potential. Her second book, Manifest Moment To Moment, is available in every English-speaking country in the world. Fascinated by the healing potential of harp music, Carrol did a research study in the Intensive Care Unit of the University of Arizona Medical Center, playing spontaneously improvised harp music at the bedside of patients following open heart and thoracic surgeries. The results of that study included blood pressures balancing, lowering of pain without medication and even patients coming out of comas while the harp music was being played.

Photo of Carrol McLaughlin