Howard Lake-Waverly Herald, Dec. 4, 2000

Sweet strain of sisters' violin strings

By Lynda Jensen

The sweet, old-fashioned sound of violin music can be heard at the Swanson home just about any day of the week.

There, at the Howard Lake home of Scott and Barbara Swanson, two sisters, Kelsey, 16, and Natalie, 12, practice daily on their violins.

When they started learning how to play several years ago, both girls practiced for hours with Cracker Jack boxes stuck on the end of paint stirrers, before they received a real violin to play, Barbara said.

The girls used pencils instead of real bow strings to practice with.

They performed exercises such as "windshield wipers" and "stirring cookies" to remember how to hold the bow properly. The simple hand movements strengthened the girls' muscles and taught them proper positioning when playing the violin.

They've long since passed by "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star," Barbara said.

Both girls are part of the Crow River Area Youth Orchestra (CRAYO) for the first time this year.

They will play "Classics to Swing" Sunday, Dec. 10 at 4 p.m. at the Hutchinson High School auditorium. Tickets will be sold at the door.

The performance will include musical renditions of Beethoven, Egmont Overture, Saint-Saens, a portion of the soundtrack of Apollo 13, and a medley of swing pieces.

The orchestra is made up of 56 members from 22 communities ranging from Buffalo to Willmar, who perform under the direction of Michael Crary.

Kelsey plays first violin, with nine years of practice under her belt. In the past, she has played in the Trinity Orchestra of Waconia, Buffalo Community Orchestra, the Greater Twin Cities Youth Symphony, as well as performing at St. James Lutheran Church in Howard Lake, and in the pit orchestra at her school, Mayer Lutheran.

This year, Kelsey is a member of the pit orchestra, Trinity Orchestra, and CRAYO.

Last year, Kelsey played oboe parts in the Mayer Lutheran Band Wind Ensemble, she said.

"I really like playing," she said.

Her favorite music is "Ashoken Farewell," which is a Civil War piece.

She practices for an hour or two each day, she said. When she started out, she used to practice for two hours each day.

Natalie attends St. James Lutheran as a sixth grader and has been playing second violin since she was in first grade. She is also learning to play the trumpet now, Barbara said.

In the past, she performed at Montrose Elementary School, St. James Lutheran Church, and Trinity Orchestra. This year, she participates in CRAYO and Trinity.

Natalie's favorite song is "Carol of the Bells." She practices for about a half hour each day.

In addition to violin, both girls have played piano for a number of years.

As usual, the girls will be giving private performances for their families during the holidays, playing every Christmas carol there is possible on the violin, Natalie said.

Their violin teacher is Julie Hoiseth of Wayzata, who teaches in her home. Hoiseth is involved in the elementary violin program at Minnetonka School District, Barbara said.

Barbara is excited about CRAYO because it gives a chance for the girls to play in an orchestra, since this opportunity doesn't exist at the schools, she said.

"It's really a neat deal," she said.

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