Heidi Larson and Ann Thorsen-Moran both have a passion for teaching and music. That passion inspired them to join forces to create the Musical Minds Conservatory of Windermere.
“In Windermere, there’s no music school,” Larson said. “We’ve both been (teaching piano) in this area about a decade. … As colleagues, we decided to combine this year and make (a school).”
Thorsen-Moran added the two share similar teaching styles, which played a role in their decision to work together.
Larson and Thorsen-Moran each bring many years of musical experience to their students.
Larson started playing piano when she was 8 years old and started teaching by the time she was 13. She is a Nationally Certified Teacher of Music with 25 years of experience teaching students of all ages. She’s published her own music-theory book series in addition to several books of her original compositions.
Although an accomplished musician, she did not always have the passion for playing piano that she does today.
“I was 8 years old (when) my mom put me in piano,” Larson said. “I was terrible. I hated to practice. It was the worst. So, I tell parents, ‘Don’t ever give up on your child,’ because it wasn’t until my third teacher where I really clicked. She somehow saw something in me.”
Thorsen-Moran started playing piano at age 3 and has studied music for 35 years. She has 17 years of experience teaching music and performance and is a Royal Conservatory of Music Certified Teacher. In 2009, she won the Young Artist Award for the State of Florida. She’s played alongside bands at Walt Disney World and Universal Studios in addition to performing in orchestras, choirs and Broadway shows.
“The thing that separates us … from other teachers is we can play exceptionally well. We have a lot of performance background playing for artists,” Thorsen-Moran said. “What makes us special is the playing. We’re doing duets with the students. I show them how to play a piece, (sometimes) very difficult pieces.”
Larson said the two also teach their students about music theory, improvisation, composition, history and artistry skills. They teach individuals of all skill levels and said there is no age limit for their students.
“(We) teach at this higher level where it’s not just learning notes on the piano, but really teaching a passion for music that can enrich the rest of your life no matter what you do with it,” Larson said. “We teach beginner to advanced and people from adults who want to do it recreationally all the way to competition winners in the state and the country.”
Larson and Thorsen-Moran won’t be the only teachers at the Musical Minds Conservatory of Windermere. In order to reach more students, the school will employ other teachers as well. The two already have been working with the individuals who will teach alongside them.
“(We’re) mainly focused on piano, but also expanding to voice, guitar and other instruments as we grow,” Larson said.
“We want to teach other teachers to do the same thing that we’re doing,” Thorsen-Moran added.
Currently, there is no physical storefront for the Musical Minds Conservatory of Windermere, but Larson and Thorsen-Moran plan to change that soon. Prior to the partnership, they gave in-home lessons or taught from their own studios.
“We’re scouting storefronts in the area,” Larson said. “Right now, we ... teach in people’s homes, and I also have a studio in Independence.”
Students who are interested in taking in-home lessons are required to have their own piano. Once the school establishes a physical location and expands, it will have equipment available for students.
“In our (new) studio, we will have pianos — acoustic pianos and electric pianos — so (students) can get the benefits of both types,” Larson said.