Friday, March 5, 1999
Brandon and Drew Wiemann have no confusion at all over playing the violin and playing on soccer teams. The concept of "well-rounded" is so ingrained in the Wiemann household in Peachtree City that the talented young men find it easy to be good at both activities.
The sons of Robert and Cheryl Wiemann, Brandon and Drew are absolutely dedicated to being violinists, maybe even as their future careers, but they enjoy sports too. Their sisters, 13-year-old Nicole and Natalie, 7, both sing and play the piano.
Brandon, a freshman at Starr's Mill High School, has just been selected for the Atlanta Youth Symphony Orchestra. He's one of the younger members of the prestigious group, and the only violinist who lives south of I-20. The Wiemanns carpool to AYSO events with the families of Brittany Walter, oboe, and Kimberly Thomas, French horn, both students at Fayette County High School.
Brandon says he wanted to "follow in my dad's footsteps" when he first began playing the violin at age 8. Robert, a pilot for Delta Air Lines, says his parents are from Europe and South America and that he was always encouraged to participate both in music and sports. He's also quick to admit that Brandon's exceptional abilities are a mix of "talent, opportunities and hard work ... he has been fortunate to have more opportunities, and access to better teachers, than I had when I played the violin."
He mentioned one "opportunity" that probably is unique to that family, since Robert is an airline pilot. Robert and Brandon were able to fly to Rome, Italy, the source of the world's foremost violin-makers, to pick out an instrument for him. Brandon says his violin is "comparable to what the symphony players have."
Brandon comments, "When I first started, I told my dad not to let me ever quit, no matter what I said or how I begged. Sure enough, there was a time when I wanted to quit the violin and he wouldn't let me. I am so glad he didn't."
The best part of playing the violin for him, Brandon says, is learning pieces that challenge him. He says he is always looking forward to the next difficult piece, asking his instructor to "throw the hard pieces at me and see what I can do." He is now taught by David Arenz, Atlanta Symphony violinist, but started out as a pupil of Fayetteville's Kay Fry.
He had to audition for both a student slot with Arenz and with the AYSO, and put in about four hours a day of practice to reach the appointment to the youth orchestra. Brandon says between music, soccer and family activities, he has to do his homework "late at night."
The well-rounded concept with Brandon does not stop with music and sports. He also serves as a peer mediator at Starr's Mill High School, a program for which his own peers nominated him; he scuba-dives with his dad and Drew; took flying lessons last summer at Falcon Field, and takes piano lessons with Pam Martin of Peachtree City.
If he can't manage a career with the violin for some reason, Brandon says, he has "no idea really what I would do ... I like science a lot." He also believes that his little brother Drew "will be better than me," something he says with no jealousy at all.
"Just because I started earlier," says the irrepressible 9-year-old Drew, described by his dad as a "two-speed kid fast-forward and stop." He started playing violin at age 7. Drew says he likes art a lot, too, which means he follows in mom's footsteps as well as dad's. Cheryl's paintings adorn several rooms in the Wiemann home.
However, Drew has trouble imagining any other career for himself besides that of violinist. He's so dedicated to the concept, he says, that even if he accidentally lost an arm, "I would play with one arm!"