Leslie Thurman (founder & director), is a Dallas native who graduated from Highland Park High School, and then attended SMU. She graduated with a Bachelors of Music in Music Education with concentrations in both piano and voice. Leslie is a current member of the DMTA & NMTA.
For over 40 years, Leslie has worked with children in music. She has taught private piano and voice lessons and directed music education for numerous private schools and churches. The demand for her private piano teaching increased to the point that she began training other teachers in her approach. Leslie continues to direct the Thurman School of Music as she and her staff continually commit to providing quality music instruction for all ages.
Many of Leslie’s students have continued to study music at the collegiate level, graduating from such highly-regarded music schools as UNT and SMU.
Barbara Loest (associate director) has been a teacher with the Thurman School of Music since 1982. She received a B.M.E. from Midwestern State University, and continued her education at the graduate level at the University of North Texas.
In addition to her outstanding teaching abilities, Barbara is also a highly sought after accompanist in the Dallas area. She currently serves as Associate Director of Worship & Music and Director of Youth and Senior Adult Choirs at Park Cities Baptist Church where she has directed and accompanied numerous choral productions.
Many of Barbara’s students have continued their music studies at the master’s and doctoral level, graduating from such prestigious schools as Eastman, Yale, Baylor, and TCU.
Andrew Grein (assistant director) has been an instructor with the Thurman School of Music since 2003. His educational background includes a B.M. in Piano Performance from Oklahoma Baptist University and an M.M. in Piano Performance from the University of Oklahoma.
In addition to his TSM students, Andrew also teaches as an adjunct instructor of class piano at Richland College in Richardson and does vocal and instrumental accompanying throughout the area.
Chloe Ann Grein (assistant director) has been with TSM as a student beginning in 1987, and a teacher beginning in 1995. She completed her B.M. in Piano Performance from Southern Methodist University in 2003 and an M.A. in Humanities from the University of Dallas in 2008. Chloe Ann has performed extensively throughout the area as an accompanist and as the pianist for the Plano Symphony Orchestra. She also co-directs Jubilate! Chirldrens Chorus, a choir for homeschool children located in the north Dallas area.
Chloe Ann stays busy by teaching and performing, homeschooling, and, along with her husband Andrew, taking care of their four children, Jonah, Leah, Bonnie, and Oscar.
Jessica Fraccaro began studying piano at age five in East Texas. She has won numerous awards through the years at area piano competitions. As a junior in high school, Jessica was chosen to join the Kilgore College Keyboard Ensemble. During her time with this ensemble, Jessica performed at two MTNA conventions (2005 & 2006) and with Jackson Berkey, lead keyboardist for Mannheim Steamroller.
Jessica graduated from Kilgore Junior College in 2007 with an Associate of Arts Degree-Field of Study in Music. From there, Jessica transferred to Southern Methodist University and completed a Bachelor of Music degree in Piano Performance in 2009, studying under Al Mouledous and Alessio Bax. In 2013, Jessica received a masters degree in Christian Education from Dallas Seminary, and she served on staff at Grace Bible Church until 2016.
Since 2008, Jessica has served as a piano instructor with the Thurman School of Music and is a member of CMTA. In her spare time, Jessica enjoys reading, cooking, and spending time with her husband Joe and their two children, Nora and Jed.
Sarah Shwe has had a passion for the piano since starting at the young age of four years old. She grew up attending many competitions and festivals in the Dallas area with DMTA, earning many awards and high scores. She has been teaching piano since 2009 and loves each and every student that she has taught.
Sarah attended Baylor for four years, graduating with her B.M. in Piano Pedagogy in 2012. While studying at Baylor, she participated in piano ensembles, piano accompaniment, vocal training, choirs, teaching and musicianship skills as well as various piano teaching internships. She also received numerous invitations to join high academic collegiate societies and in Spring of 2012, she gave a recital at Baylor University in Roxy Grove Hall.
Sarah enjoys and encourages love of music in all forms whether it is composing, vocal work, or improvisation in her spare time.
Kristen George is a native of Dallas, Texas where she studied piano under the instruction of Dr. Rozalie O. Levant. During her time with Dr. Levant, she received recognition for her solo performances in piano competitions such as the Jean Pedigo McNew Memorial Award Competition and the Baylor/Waco Piano Competition. Kristen received her B.M. in Piano Performance from Baylor University. At Baylor, Kristen was under the tutelage of Krassimira Jordan and Dr. Vincent de Vries. She received an invitation to study and perform in Vienna, Austria at the Bösendorfer International Piano Academy in 2006. Kristen also has a Master’s degree in Christian Education from Dallas Theological Seminary
Shawn Mand began studying music in 2004. He enjoys connecting with both audiences and students of all ages. In recent years, Shawn has given recitals in Lawrence, KS and San Marcos, TX and received Gold in the Seventh International Chopin Youth Competition and First Prize at the Dallas Symphonic Festival. He is currently pursuing his studies at Richland College with Boriana Savova.
Previously, Shawn studied with Andrey Ponochevny, a musician honored in the music world’s most prestigious halls. He has also had the priveledge of studying with Oksana Iliasevitch and Bret Serrin, and worked in master classes with Jack Winerock and Barry Snyder. As a performer and teacher, Shawn wishes to perfect his skills and continue sharing the experience of music for years to come.
Luke Van Vessem is a TSM alumnus and the most recent addition to our staff. Luke is a talented pianist and vocalist and is currently pursuing a degree in music from Dallas Baptist University. Luke also helps lead worship and works as a staff intern at Community Life Church in Forney, TX.
Lillian Paris has been a student in the TSM program since she was six years old. She has proven herself as a diligent pianist and now studies with Leslie Thurman. Her performance experience includes being a repeat winner in TSM’s Evaluation Workshop, playing in church and worship settings, and accompanying in various school ensembles. She is a senior at Naaman Forest High School and plans to continue her studies in music education when she graduates. Having worked with children for six years, Lillian is a talented teacher and loves using her gifts to inspire students.