WINDERMERE, Fla. – Two entrepreneurial women’s artistic spirits and love for the arts has brought them together to start the first music school in Windermere, opening doors for employment opportunities to other music teachers.
Through their passion for music and the piano, they are serving their community.
Heidi Larson, the co-owner of Musical Minds Conservatory, said she fell in love with the musical instrument as a little girl.
After realizing the need for a music school in western Orange County, Larson and her colleague, Ann Thorsen, teamed up to open the music conservatory.
"They have a strong appreciation for the arts,” Larson said. “We're just happy to be able to bring these services to people right near them."
Larson said she started playing when she was 8 years old and, at 13, she started teaching.
“People are starting to realize, you know, even at the higher level how important music can be to help you in every subject,” Larson said.
Andrea Holley, whose daughters are taking piano lessons, said she’s one of those people.
"I would love my kids to excel in the arts and the math and sciences, and I feel like they really are,” Holley said. “All three of my kids really enjoy both and I think they really do go hand in hand in helping each other."
According to the Florida Music Education Association, students taking courses in music performance and music appreciation scored higher on the SAT than students with no arts participation.
"It helps their scores all around,” Larson said. “I think it's called the Mozart effect."
According to the U.S. Department of Education, music performance students scored 53 points higher on the language arts portion of the test and 39 points higher on the math.
Holley said she believes the classical music really helps the brain when working to connect math-related concepts.
Catherine Kim, a high school student and piano player of 10 years, also believes that to be true.
“The work ethic that you grow through practicing piano just transfers over to school, and you have to grow that work ethic in your studies,” Kim said.
Heidi believes the repetitions, sequences and patterns in music are found in everyday life and subjects in school.
She encourages her students to transfer that knowledge into their academics.
"We've all read the studies that music helps connect synapses in the brain. But we also, besides teaching the brain, we like to teach the heart, as well, because we think that music can bring communities closer together," Larson said.
Musical Minds is set to open in August. Larson said they will start off with piano lessons and later expand to voice and several other instruments.