The Oncken brothers, 9-year-old Ezra and 11-year-old Nicolas have spent their lives growing up with the sounds of violin strings as a part of their lives.
Elder brother Nicolas can distinctly remember the first time he heard a violin and how powerful that moment was - and so can his mom, Akiko.
"From that first day Nicolas heard the sweet sounds of the violin he spent hours practicing his love of the instrument by holding a frying pan under his chin and using the first stick he could find for a bow and began making the music he was hearing in his mind," Akiko recalled.
It's a good thing violins come in all sizes, so people with short arms can start practicing with a violin at just about any size and age.
Both boys started out practicing on a 1/10-size and are still working their way up to the full-size, instrument by instrument. Ezra is using a 1/4-size violin today that was built in France, and made famous in 1941 by winning a musical instrument contest in Paris. Nicolas is using a 3/4-size violin.
Both boys each have a personal three-ring binder that they use for practicing at home and take with them to their formal lessons in Eugene every Saturday with their teacher, Kara Eubanks. No matter what the weather, the boys' dad Scott Oncken loads his family into the family Toyota Highlander and off they go for their weekly lesson.
During those lessons with Eubanks the boys use their three-ring binders containing the printed musical score of the masters to memorize the notes, and then work on their form and develop a personal style for performing their work.
And every school morning both Ezra and Nicolas tune up their violins and happily go through 40 minutes of practice before school, and then when they get home they practice again before and after supper. Mom doesn't seem to find it necessary to coax them into practice times, they both have such a love for the violin that practicing is just another opportunity to get intimate with their instruments, and glory in the music it brings forth as they play.
With such dedication it isn't out of the ordinary for both Ezra and Nicholas to perform the way they do. Referencing their upcoming March 18 recital, a benefit for Wild Wings Raptor Center, Ezra especially recalls the day the center arranged for their rehabbed great horned owl, Marly, to visit his classroom at Cascade Academy, and how thrilled he was to see that handsome owl up close. He knows his talented contribution is helping to keep the rehab operations going, and he's looking forward to the next educational raptor visit.
The Oncken Brothers Violin Recital is set for Sunday, March 18, at 2 p.m. at Sisters Episcopal Church of the Transfiguration.