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Fiddlin' in the family

Morgan (left) and Ethan Phillips practice playing their violins. The Phillips siblings have been playing violin for six years.
Morgan (left) and Ethan Phillips practice playing their violins. The Phillips siblings have been playing violin for six years.

LOSTANT — Morgan and Ethan Phillips of Lostant are like many other siblings. Sometimes they get along; sometimes they fight; and sometimes they make beautiful music together.

Fourteen-year old Morgan is a freshman at Putnam County High School and has been playing violin for six years, while Ethan, 11, started a little bit younger, at 5.

"We were at our grandma's house, and there was a violin which wasn't even fully strung. I was just messing around with it, and Mom said, 'Let's get you some violin lessons,'" Morgan said.

The children's mother, Lisa Phillips, didn't play violin before then, but her grandfather had.

"My mom had several of my grandpa's old violins, and they were not strung," Lisa said. "One of them had a few strings on it, and she started, picked it up and was plucking it. She was 6. She seemed to like it, so we found a violin teacher, and that was it."

Music has run in Lisa's family. Lisa's father didn't play violin, but he did play the mandolin, which has the same fingerings for notes. Ethan picked up the bug from his sister, who would quiz him on parts of the violin.

"She would ask me what certain parts of the violin were, and I started calling out different parts," Ethan said. "She asked me, 'Why don't you start playing?' so I did."

Morgan's love for playing has gotten her some notice.

"There was a fiddle competition that I won, and I've been in the orchestra. I got an honorable mention in a concerto competition," Morgan said.

Morgan won the competition at Illinois Valley Community College a year ago. This year, she didn't do quite as well.

"I was practicing, and apparently I practiced too much," Morgan said. "It would have been nice to know I could do that."

Morgan and Ethan plan on playing for a long time, and awards may come their way for both of them as they continue their family's musical tradition.

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