Fiddling aroundNo matter how many times you ask, Sam Steidl won’t admit she is any more talented than the next musician. Because to her, it’s all about enjoying what you do.
By: Jo Colvin, Alexandria Echo Press
No matter how many times you ask, Sam Steidl won’t admit she is any more talented than the next musician. Because to her, it’s all about enjoying what you do.
“I think it comes down to how much you like something,” the 16-year-old insisted. “If you like something you will spend a lot of time on it.”
Since she discovered the viola more than five years ago, everything else Steidl could spend her spare time on has played second fiddle.
“I liked it from the very start,” she said of the hobby she spends one to six hours a day practicing.
Steidl, the daughter of Kurt and Marlys Steidl of Carlos, was introduced to the viola through the school orchestra program the summer after she was in 4th grade. A week later she was taking private lessons in addition to the school program.
At her second lesson, Steidl’s teacher gave her a Disney songbook. She was so excited she took it home and learned every song in the book the first week.
“I brought it back the next week and I was all done and she was like, ‘Whoa!’,” Steidl recalled.
About a year after she started playing, Steidl was asked to perform at a coffee house in Evansville. That was when she got bit by the performance bug.
A fellow musician recognized her talent at the open mic night and asked her to be a fiddler in his annual St. Patrick’s Day concert at the Alexandria Area Arts Association (AAAA) Theatre in Alexandria.
That was the beginning of a lengthy list of musical accomplishments.
Now a junior at Jefferson High School in Alexandria, Steidl was selected to the honors orchestra in grades 7, 8 and 9. She has played in 4-H programs, several Irish shows, in the pit orchestra for AAAA musicals, with the Long Prairie Chamber Orchestra and at church. She also currently travels throughout the area with the Patsy Cline Band. Last year she earned a Lakes Region Arts Council artist-mentor grant.
Because she has “a bajillion” relatives, Steidl would frequently be asked to play at their weddings and funerals. Word got out, and soon non-relatives were requesting her heartfelt music at their milestone events.
While the viola is her instrument of choice, in many performances she plays the violin, as it is smaller, has a higher tone, and is more conducive to the “fiddling” style of music that many of those shows require.
Although she can read music, this creative young fiddler most often chooses to improvise, making up the music as she goes along.
“It’s a lot more fun to improv,” she said. “In church, I have the book in front of me, but I hardly ever play the notes there. I start doing my own thing. If you hit a wrong note, you fiddle around with it ‘til you get the right one.”
Steidl’s latest endeavor is studying “more serious music and the classical stuff,” which isn’t her favorite to listen to, but that she likes to play.
“I need to get better at classical stuff,” she said, adding that she is now taking lessons twice a month in St. Cloud. “I need to excel so I can get more prepared for college.”
Pursuing the viola at the college level is definitely a part of her future plans, but she modestly admits that it’s not going to be easy and that she will have to continue to work hard to do what she loves.
“I’m not the best ever. I’m a decent player, but once I get to college I will be straggling behind,” she concluded. “I work at it and I like it. I like to entertain people with music.”