GRAND BLANC TWP. — The Mieczkowski (pronounced Mitch-kowski) family home is on several acres, which is good, because mom, Lorie, and dad, Pat, let God decide the size of their family – and 10 children later, they need the room.
All joking aside, the couple met at a Christian youth conference on Mackinaw Island in 1984. They were both from Oakland County, and Lorie had been learning piano since she was a small girl, and majored on that instrument in college.
“Music has such a big impact,” Pat said.
He plays the violin and works full-time as an IT business consultant, as well as being chairman of the Orion Chamber Music Society Board and doing all that a dad of 10 must do in his “spare time”— wood cutting/splitting, feeding the wood boiler, and spending time with the family.
Daughter Melody, 21, said the Orion Chamber is basically a community orchestra made up of many people from different churches, all the way from Imlay City to Midland and Detroit. It was started about 10 years ago and is currently directed by Ben Klaus. After several years, they started a Stringed Instruments camp which sister Grace, 22, has directed for the past three to four years.
Melody, who plays the cello, Grace, the violin and Anna, 18, the harp, are all musicians in the Oakland University Chamber Orchestra. Melody teaches several cello and piano students (including sister Mary, 12), both out of their home and through the music academy at our church.
The other kids all play an instrument and Grace says it was never a question of whether or not they would — but which one — drawing the line at strings and piano. Jonathan, 24, plays violin, Joseph, 19, bass and violin, Caleb, 17, violin, Lydia, 15, violin, Mary, cello, Julia, 11, and Rebecca, 8, both violin and piano.
Even though he was a Christian as a teen, Pat said he was “very into” secular music before he decided to listen, and focus strictly on religious music. “I knew even then the power music has .. .and wanted to make sure our children had a good foundation of Godly music in their lives,” he said.
When asked whether it was talent or training that made up the family’s obvious skill in music, Lorie claims, “Music takes a lot of training to do excellently.” Grace said she has thought about that a lot and sees it as both God’s gift as well as time and training.
“It’s gifting in a sense but talent is not inborn, it’s bred. I ask myself what can I do with the gift (of being taught).” Her mom added, “Any good thing takes work and discipline.” With the older kids approaching the time of life where jobs and adult relationships get in the way, the talk of putting out a CD turned serious.
“We have always been asked (if we had one), after concerts,” Lorie said. The compilation of instrumental songs was arranged by a friend of the family, Molly Ijames, who they know through church and teaches theory music composition.
“Our main thought was that we hadn’t done anything to preserve our music as a family,” Jonathan said. “We felt it was a good use of our talent and we toyed with the idea for some time.”
Recorded at the Sound Shop Studio (Soundshopstudio.com) in Macomb, Lorie stated it was a three-day long process, following a period of fundraising. It was a challenge getting everyone together, but that was only for one of the three days.
Pat said, “It was great! I could stay there all the time — as long as we were playing.” Anna influenced at least one of the tracks where she worked on the arrangement and also suggested they add percussion to the mix recruiting two talented church members, Rhys, and Steven.
Lorie said she feels the CD is a culmination of the investment people have made in them throughout their lives.
“Look at those who invested in us. I wanted to quit when I was 10 … I give a lot of credit to my parents because music lasts your whole life long, it ministers to the soul,” she said.
Everyone had a role not only in the music but coordinating graphics, helping with managing copyright and royalties, and mailing out CD’s ordered — at least 500 of the first 1,000 are already gone. Sample tracks can be heard at: www.mieczkowskifamily.com