Things can get a little loud at the Dorsey house in Land O’ Lakes.
With four brothers ages 6 through 11, they can fill the house up with sound.
But you won’t hear a loud television blaring or children screaming over toys. Instead, you’ll hear violins being tuned. Piano keys being played. Music stands being moved into place.
And then you’ll hear elegant pieces of classical music, performed by artists who spend a lot of time honing their craft.
When these boys play together, it doesn’t sound like anything you’d hear on the playground.
The three oldest brothers, Daniel (piano), Nathaniel (violin) and Anthony (violin), participated in this year’s Justine Le Baron Young Artists Competition, an annual event sponsored by the Florida Orchestra Musicians Association.
Daniel took third place in the Junior Piano category, while youngest brother Aaron, at age 6, gave the piano a rest and sat this one out.
Their mother, Rowena Dorsey, doesn’t mind the symphonic sounds in her house the least little bit.
“It’s like a regular music school if you ask me,” she said with a laugh. “We are kind of an unusual family.”
Rowena home-schools the boys, so their music practice is a scheduled part of their day. Rather than just going through the motions, the boys enjoy working on pieces of music and performing them well, after plenty of practice.
After dinner with their mother and their father, Martin, they frequently repeat their latest efforts with both parents listening to their improvement.
If it sounds like music is a time-consuming pursuit for the boys, it is.
But that’s what they like to do.
Their parents encouraged them to pick up instruments at a young age — they all started around age 5 or age 6.
But the enthusiasm is all their own.
Their parents don’t force them into competitions.
They choose when they want to compete, and they practice because they want to play better.
“Ultimately, I really want them to enjoy it,” Rowena said.
They do enjoy playing, she said, but they’re also very competitive.
That’s why a seemingly impressive performance at the Young Artists competition might be something of a disappointment.
“It felt weird,” Daniel said about his third-place finish. “I was going against the same people in another competition and I won first (place). And I was against them again, and they beat me this time.”
David likes to challenge himself, repeatedly practicing a difficult piece until he has it mastered.
He’s been involved with music for about half his life, and he’s always displayed a natural ability toward playing.
He has fun with both piano and cello, and can’t imagine going very long without having a chance to practice and play.
Daniel prefers the challenge of performing alone, but he appreciates the chance to play with his brothers and to enjoy the dynamics of a group setting.
“When I get to play with my brothers, I get to experience how to play as a group,” he said. He also has the chance to discover when to come together as a group and when to back out and let another person play solo, he said.
Younger brother Anthony also likes playing with his brothers, but he prefers a different instrument.
“I like the sound of the violin,” he said. “I like getting the notes in tune.”
He started playing violin after seeing his brother, Nathaniel, play the instrument.
And Nathaniel doesn’t mind that his little brother is following in his footsteps. While it’s a fun instrument to play, he said, it’s not easy.
“Sometimes it’s hard, but I just have to learn it,” he said.
While they love practicing a challenging piece of music and performing in front of people — there’s a recital for home-schooled students at the end of the month — the brothers do have other interests. They watch a little television and enjoy playing board games (“Clue” is a big hit in their house). But the soccer field is a main attraction, and the boys are eager to kick the ball when an instrument isn’t handy.
No matter what they do, Rowena said the lessons learned from playing music stay with them and help them succeed in various activities. From math to soccer, improvement via consistent practice is a discipline that serves them well outside of music.
And inside the house, the Dorseys find classical music to be a pleasant-sounding alternative to noisier activities for young boys.
“It is very nice,” Rowena said. “I don’t have to worry that they’re glued to the TV. That doesn’t really grow their brain. I just know that this music is really helping them develop.”
Published April 1, 2015