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DC junior has ‘gift from God’

November 26, 2007

Tyson Laakkonen is a musical sensation on the piano

By Kristen Miller
Staff Writer

When listening to Dassel-Cokato junior Tyson Laakkonen play the piano, it’s hard to believe a person’s fingers could actually move that fast.

Laakkonen is currently in his ninth year of playing piano and is considered quite advanced for his age.

Both sides of Laakkonen’s family are musically inclined, including his two brothers and sister, so it was only natural his parents, Cliff and Peggy, would assume the same for him.

Laakkonen began taking piano lessons in the third grade with Barb Root of Kingston.

Now, for more advanced learning, Tyson is coached by master musician Mark Ochu, formerly of Winsted.

At first, playing piano was just something his parents encouraged him to do.

Now, playing piano and perfecting advanced literature is something Tyson wants to do for himself.

“It’s fun. It’s always one big challenge,” he said.

Some pieces take as long as a year to learn, he said.

“When you do [learn it], it’s a big accomplishment,” he added.

Tyson enjoys the challenge and even says the hardest pieces are usually the most fun to play.

He is currently working on Chopin’s Etude OP.10 No. 4. Chopin happens to be his favorite composer.

“It’s very difficult,” he said.

For now, he is just learning the notes and the tune. Next comes the details and perfecting it.

Ochu regards him with good practice habits and a determined nature, as well as having a great deal of focus.

“He learns very difficult, virtuosic piano repertoire that very few people would even consider trying,” Ochu said.

Tyson has already been working on the four-page piece for a few months. He anticipates it taking up to a year to perfect.

One of his favorite numbers to play is “The Turkish March” by Mozart, and arranged by Arcadi Volodu.

Kids at school call him the “crazy piano man” because when playing numbers like Fredric Chopin’s “Stars and Stripes Forever,” his hands move a mile a minute.

Laakkonen would like to someday travel and perform in Europe.

“He has what it takes to be a professional musician,” Ochu said. That is what he is helping Laakkonen with – trying to develop his artistry and musicianship, Ochu said.

“I’ve always wanted to go there,” he said.

Next year, he is hoping to spend his senior year at Perpich School of Arts in Golden Valley.

Besides the piano, Tyson plays the trombone in his high school band.

“Tyson is a very, very talented young man,” said Brian Veith, Tyson’s band instructor.

“He is just as good of a musician on the trombone as he is on the piano,” Veith added.

It’s hard to believe that someone with such great talent has only performed at school and at someone’s birthday party.

“The time will come,” said Tyson’s mother, Peggy, who believes he has a gift from God and will someday be recognized for it.

“I hear him every day and it’s fun to observe the public dropping their jaws – that’s what they do when they hear him play,” she said.

Soon, Tyson will be performing for one of the biggest events he’s ever been asked to do – open for the Land of Lake Choirboys Friday, Dec. 7 at St. John’s Lutheran Church in Winsted.

Fellow classmate, Brandon Gatz asked Tyson if he would be interested in opening for the touring choir event.

“I’m excited. It’s the biggest thing I’ve ever done,” Tyson said.

The concert will begin at 7 p.m. following a sit-down dinner starting at 5 p.m. The menu includes stuffed chicken breast, smoked pork chops, potato, Monaco vegetables, salad, rolls, dessert, and a beverage for $35.

Tickets for the concert only are $10 and can be purchased at the door that evening.

Reservations will by taken until Wednesday by calling Bonnie at (320) 485-2353 or Rose at (320) 485-2252.