When the Lake County News-Chronicle called to speak to Kristiina Thums about a recent achievement, she was at track practice. Had it been earlier in the year, her mom said, she'd have been at hockey or volleyball practice. During the day, the Finland 15-year-old is at school in Silver Bay and in between all of this she finds time to paint, draw and earn awards for her musical ability.
On March 18-19, the Minnesota State High School League held its music competition at the University of Minnesota-Duluth. Kristiina said she heard about the competition last December and approached her teachers about participating.
"I think this is the first time she's been in competition. She's the only one who wanted to play for the contest and she really took the initiative," said Kris Peterson, orchestra director at William Kelley High School. For Thums, it wasn't a difficult decision, in spite of the many hours of practice that lay ahead.
"We haven't had many participating in the last couple of years, so I thought I'd go for it," she said casually.
For her performances, Thums played a clarinet solo and sang, too. She worked with choir director Mary Carroll on the vocal selection. When the dust settled on the day of the contest, Thums had earned two superior ratings, scores at the very top of the range of 35-40 points.
"I was a little nervous when I started, but it got me thinking that with all the practicing, I could accomplish something," she said. Peterson said she was delighted to watch Thums on stage.
"She had a wonderful day. It was so exciting to see her play so well."
After her solo pieces, Thums went to join the William Kelley Band for the large ensemble competition. The group also earned a superior rating.
"It was a wonderful day," recalled Peterson.
Thums said that in the future she plans to attend the University of Wisconsin-Superior, her mother, Teresa's alma mater. Teresa Thums is also a musician and holds a degree in music. She has taught in Wisconsin schools and was her daughter's first music teacher. She quipped that Kristiina got her musical ability from the maternal side of the family.
"My husband jokes that he can't sing a note, so (Kristiina) gets her musical ability from me," she said with a laugh.
"My mom's been in music her whole life," said Kristiina, "so when I saw her play, I wanted to play." She added that she hopes that she can inspire others, too.
"I hope (other students) will see that if one person can do it, maybe they'll want to, especially the younger kids."