Music has always been the dream of Angelina McLaughlin-Heil.
As a young girl, she would hide out to secretly watch as her older sister played her cello. As she listened, she would observe her sister's techniques — so she could mimic them later.
“When she would get up and leave, I would sneak up and grab her cello and start playing what she had just played,” McLaughlin-Heil said.
Music is no longer just a dream for McLaughlin-Heil — it is her reality.
After earning a a master’s degree in orchestral conducting, 20 years of teaching experience in both private and public schools, and experience playing in multiple symphonies, philharmonics and quartets, McLaughlin-Heil looking to pass on her love and knowledge of music to the people of Highland. This month, she opened her new business, The Highland Music School.
“It was just always a dream of mine to have my own music school,” she said.
McLaughlin-Heil will be able teach all of the bowed string instruments, such as violin, viola, cello and bass.
“We need children to learn to play those instruments to reach that proficiency level to continue the great history of classical music,” McLaughlin-Heil said.
She has also hired six other teachers who will provide lessons for piano, percussion, guitar, and all the band instruments. McLaughlin-Heil said she also hopes to add a voice teacher as well.
All of teachers hold at least one degree in music and are also professional musicians, according to McLaughlin-Heil.
McLaughlin-Heil said that she believes her business will help her pass on her love of music to others, while helping to support Highland’s public school system.
“And then the fact that there is no string program (in Highland schools), that would be providing a service as well,” McLaughlin-Heil said.
The Highland Music School is tucked away in an eclectic, industrial studio, located in the old painting room inside what used to be the Wicks Organ Co. factory. However, her new address is officially 409 Pine St.
Last year, Jennifer and Frank Ostrander bought the property, located at 1100 Fifth St. in Highland, from Wicks Organ Co. when the historic organ company moved to it's new location at 416 Pine St., the former location of Relevant Pregnancy Options Center.
Now the Ostranders have moved their business Core Elite Tumble and Cheer into the building. However, the property is very large — eight acres — and the Ostranders envision many uses for the space. Currently, they are working to renovate many of the rooms into event venues. Jennifer Ostrander recently said that several other businesses are planning to move into the historic building as well.
But, moving into the Wicks building means more to McLaughlin-Heil than just a place to house her business.
In the 1950s, McLaughlin-Heil’s grandfather worked at the factory out of high school as an apprentice organ maker.
“So opening the school here is very sentimental to me, because I am walking the same halls that he walked,” McLaughlin-Heil said.
McLaughlin-Heil’s enthusiasm for music history plays a part in the new space. She said she plans to keep the space as authentic as she can, and various pieces of Wicks memorabilia, alongside a picture of her grandfather, adorn the studio walls. A friend also donated her an old player piano, which she said she plans to have up and running in the near future.
“It’s, like, really such a part of history — that this is preserving part of history by fixing up my little space,” McLaughlin-Heil said.
Also included in her future plans is the intention to have monthly bowed string instrument recitals at the studio with professional musicians.
“So that will be an opportunity for the public to come and listen to music,” McLaughlin-Heil said.
The first concert that is open to the public is planned for some time in July. McLaughlin-Heil said the theme will be a baroque string ensemble. Then in August, McLaughlin-Heil has lined up an all-female professional string quartet named the "Perseid String Quartet."
“They’re excellent musicians, like world-class musicians. So I’m really excited about that,” McLaughlin-Heil said.
McLaughlin-Heil has also contacted the Highland Arts Council and hopes to showcase the works of local artists inside her studio.
For more information of the Highland Music School visit the business’s website: highlandmusicschool.com.