When Brainerd High School junior Courtney Sinner was 5, she saw a violin in a music store and begged her mother to buy it.
However, Sinner didn't begin playing the violin until sixth grade. It's an instrument that will stick with her for the rest of her life.
Sinner has been a member of the BHS Chamber Orchestra since ninth grade and the Minnesota All-State Orchestra since last fall. Her passion for playing the violin won her the Fine Arts Student of the Week honor.
When Sinner was 5, her mother bought a piano instead, which Sinner played for eight years. The violin was reintroduced to Sinner in sixth grade, when she heard BHS Chamber Orchestra Director Grant Wilcox talk about the orchestra program.
"I wanted to play the violin," she said. "I went home and told my mom that and we rented one at Bridge of Harmony.
"I liked playing it. It came easily for me because I was in piano and I knew most of the songs and the notes."
Sinner began taking private violin lessons and practiced in the school's orchestra programs.
During a private violin lesson before Sinner's ninth-grade year, her violin playing was taken to the next level. Sinner was asked to join the BHS Chamber Orchestra.
Sinner's violin teacher was Wilcox's daughter, and Wilcox just happened to be in the orchestra room at the time of a lesson.
"After the lesson he (Wilcox) came up to me and asked me to be in Chamber Orchestra," said Sinner. "I was like, 'Oh, my God. They are so good,' and he said, 'Well, you can be a part of that.'"
The first year in Chamber Orchestra was difficult for Sinner. It was a learning year. The music was much harder and she was the last chair in the violin section.
"I felt like since I was last chair if I was off-key no one would notice," said Sinner. "But now I'm really into it. I feel like I have a reputation to uphold."
Sinner is the first violin in the 2003-04 Minnesota All-State Orchestra. Sinner also made the Minnesota All-Conference Honors Orchestra and received superior ratings at a solo and ensemble contest.
Currently, Sinner is taking private lessons with Wilcox to work on her audition piece to get into the Minnesota All-State Orchestra for the 2004-05 year. She will play a Bach G minor concerto.
The BHS Chamber Orchestra is working on a Mendelssohn symphony in D concerto and a piece by composer Aaron Copland called "Hoe-Down." The state orchestra is working on music by Gustav Holst and Sergei Rachmaninov.
Though said she still has trouble holding the bow correctly, her strong quality is the way she plays. She practices three to four hours a week.
"I think I have really grown up since I've been in Chamber Orchestra," said Sinner. "I play louder and play with more confidence. My overall sound has improved."
Sinner has played her violin at weddings as part of a String Trio, which includes two friends. The trio is looking to play for a fund-raiser in May. Sinner also plays the violin at her church with her mother, who plays the guitar, and her sister, who plays the cello.
Art focus: Chamber Orchestra
Art activities: Chamber Orchestra
Favorite subjects: Chamber Orchestra
Most memorable fine arts achievement: Being accepted into All-State Orchestra
Artist most admired: Grant Wilcox
Favorite movie: "Chicago"
Favorite TV program: "Gilmore Girls"
Favorite song: "Independence Day" by Martina McBride
Parents: Jerry and Clare Sinner of Brainerd
Sinner teaches in the Learn to Play in the Orchestra Program through Brainerd Community Education. Currently she is teaching three young students, who are good violin players, said Sinner.
"This is a good way to make money and it's fun to do," said Sinner.
Sinner would like to attend a four-year college that has a strong music program to pursue a minor in music and a major in pharmacy.
"I love playing the violin and will keep it and the experiences for the rest of my life," she said.
Kirsten Newstrom, junior, design: Newstrom's design teacher said, "Kirsten has distinguished herself in the classroom by directing her efforts toward quality, well-designed and polished pieces. Her attention to detail, design sense and work ethic is much appreciated."
Hannah Burchill, senior, Brainonian: "Hannah does a great job as our graphic artist," said the Brainonian adviser. "She adds slashes of color and personality to the pages of the yearbook."
Adam Dobson, senior, Symphonic Band: Dobson is a three-year member of the Symphonic Band and received superior ratings at the solo and ensemble contest. Dobson is the trumpet section leader and a member of the 2003-04 Minnesota All-State Band.
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