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Ruth Kuefler

Sisters in music

July 11, 2008 at 2:27 AM

I always love it when my sister Elizabeth comes home to visit. She was here this past week for my brother's wedding, after which she left for a music festival in Germany. Now that she's in graduate school in NY, I miss her more than ever. I've learned and shared so much with her, and look up to her more than anyone, I think. Seven years older than I, she was my violin teacher for several years, and despite my occasional pre-teen grumbling, I loved it. She has always been a bit more adventurous than I, so I've learned a lot from her experiences in the academic and professional music world. She's the first person I go to for advice on just about anything. :)

Now and then I have fun musing on the oddly coincidental number of musical experiences we've both had. It's not surprising that I would go on to do a lot of the camps/competitions that she did before me. It's funny though, just how much we do have in common, down to little details:

~ We both studied with or had master classes with Carolyn Sandquist, Ben Sayevich, Brian Lewis, and Paul Kantor

~ We both went to the Sunflower Music Festival, where we ended up playing the same part (violin II) in the same work (Brahms piano quintet) coached by the same teacher (Mark Tanner)

~ Both of us played in the Topeka Youth Orchestra as associate concertmaster

~ My sister and I won the strings division of the same concerto competition playing the same concerto (Mendelssohn)

~ Both of us have studied at the University of Kansas

~ We both have taught violin lessons at the same music store (I even teach 3 of her former students)

~ Both of us played in the KS State Fiddling Competition

And the list could go on, haha. :) And yet, we have our differences too, of course. Being 7 years older, my sister Elizabeth has much more experience than I, and has performed everywhere from Taos to Tanglewood to Carnegie Hall. I look up to her a lot. After undergraduate, she switched to viola, and has almost completed her doctorate. It's funny how alike we still sound though. When we played violin duets for my brother's wedding this weekend, and it was so easy to match each other's style. I've even had people tell me they knew I was related to Elizabeth just from the way I played. I'm so grateful for all we share — as musicians, as friends, as sisters. I can't imagine my life without her. :)

From Pauline Lerner
Posted on July 11, 2008 at 3:00 AM
That is very touching. Your list of coincidences are remarkable. We read and hear so much about dysfunctional families, and your post about good family relationships is uplifting.
From Karin Lin
Posted on July 11, 2008 at 3:08 AM
Ruth, that's so sweet. My girls are still quite young (3 and 5) and much closer in age than you and your sister, but they're best friends and I hope they stay that way even when they're your age. As an only child, I don't understand the sibling relationship, but it warms my heart whenever I hear people talking about how much they love their brothers or sisters.
From Laurie Niles
Posted on July 11, 2008 at 4:08 AM
Aw, that made me all teary-eyed! My sister lives so far away, and I miss her!
From Donna Clegg
Posted on July 11, 2008 at 4:14 AM
I love the video! The photos are so dear.
From Karen Allendoerfer
Posted on July 11, 2008 at 10:18 AM
Aww, That's wonderful! Thanks for sharing those photos too.

My brother is 5 years younger than I and doesn't play an instrument but is a wonderful singer. He sang at my wedding and I played the violin at his.

From Tom Holzman
Posted on July 11, 2008 at 12:43 PM
How cool that you and your sister share something so important. Lovely video.
From Terry Hsu
Posted on July 11, 2008 at 1:41 PM
My brothers sing in a barbershop quartet together. In barbershop, it's common knowledge that being siblings enhances ones ability to blend because one's sound will be similar if you're blood-related. I would guess that there's something similar at work with the violin/viola as well. Nice pictures and nice to see that you and your sister are so close. :)
From Jim W. Miller
Posted on July 11, 2008 at 9:04 PM
I love this! The photo at :07 reminds me of one of those ancient Dutch portraits, and the music puts me in the mind of an ancient time and place where I can imagine that music originating. All the photos are great; great time progression and expressions that convey something. Good luck! If it was me, I'd make it three times as long and write a contrasting but similar middle part of the tune. In other words, turn it into a production :) Keep it, and extend it in ten years when you both have your own families.
From Jim W. Miller
Posted on July 11, 2008 at 9:27 PM
The motion panning is great too. You got tons of talent, little sis :)
From Kelsey Z.
Posted on July 12, 2008 at 4:06 PM
That video was beautiful Ruth!!! I'm glad you and your sister have such a wonderful relationship! I wish I could say the same about me and my older (6 years older!) sister but alas!
From Rosalind Porter
Posted on July 12, 2008 at 4:15 PM
Awww, cute pics and the two of you do look very alike. As another "only", I too have no experience of that sisterly/brotherly bond and sometimes I do wish I had a big brother or sister.

But then I realise they'd probably eat all the cookies and steal my hair conditioner so maybe not!

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