Pint-Sized Prodigies

Meet three local musicians whose ability and passion far exceed their age.

Many of the finest musicians have discovered their passion for music when they were very young. To them, music is as natural and familiar as breathing. Meet three local youngsters who have made musical statements in the White Bear Lake area and beyond, and haven’t even graduated from high school yet.


Josh Wentland

Evans Music in downtown White Bear Lake is the musical home to 17-year-old drummer Josh Wentland, who rocks out whenever he gets the chance. Josh began his musical career playing piano at the ripe age of 10, but when he was eligible to play in the school orchestra and band in sixth grade, his true passion for the percussion section emerged. When asked what intrigues him most about the drums, Josh’s answer was not surprising.

“I like that percussion is just about in everything,” Josh says. “It holds a lot of my favorite music together and I like that it doesn’t have chords or notes. I’m just a rhythmic person and am always drumming on things; I wanted to be productive and make music out of it.”

For the past two years, Josh has been taking lessons from Gary Dupre at Evans Music and has really taken a shine to improving his rudimentary skills as well as his drum set skills.

“I really enjoy working with Josh and seeing what he brings to the table each week,” Dupre says. “It’s very rare that you get someone that is rounded and skilled in the rudiments of drumming. But the unique thing about Josh is that he can express himself without making it all about patterns and reading sheet music.”


Julia Druck

Having the drive and passion to understand and perfect your craft has been a driving force for 12-year-old cellist Julia Druck.

Julia has been studying at the MacPhail Center for Music with renowned cellist Hanno Strydom for the past two years; Strydom was impressed with Julia from day one. “Early on she expressed an interest in auditioning for GTCYS [one of the main Twin Cities youth orchestras],” Strydom says. “We discussed the requirements and Julia never lost sight of her goal. In June 2013, just 15 months after starting lessons, she did the audition and was selected.”

Julia did not want to play the cello at first but has not regretted her choice. “I wanted to play the violin at first, but my friend started playing it and I didn’t want to play the same thing as her,” Julia says. “I was thinking about other instruments to play and I liked how the cello sounded because it wasn’t so high. It’s a cool instrument and fun to play.”


Clara Belle Wrolstad

In Dellwood, you will find Dr. Reid Smith Piano Studio where 8-year-old Clara Belle Wrolstad studies. She may be young, but Clara Belle has been performing at family gatherings and events with her mother, Amber Yang, for over four years. What attracts Clara Belle most to the piano is not just the sound it makes or all the different keys you get to play, but what it draws out of the musician. “I can express my own creativity, and it’s fun to play the music,” Clara Belle says.

Dr. Reid Smith is a graduate of Juilliard, one of the most prestigious music schools in the world, and he is one of two teachers in the Upper Midwest recommended by the school. Clara Belle is already working on her own solo piano recital and has even been invited to the 2014 International Lovere Festival at the Accademia Tadini in Lovere, Italy. According to Smith, it is no surprise that Clara Belle has been invited to the festival.

“She has the power to communicate the music to the audience,” Smith says. “She expresses and pulls her own feelings into the music, and you can see that. Because she can do this, I teach her as I would a college student focusing on nuance and attention to detail. She has a long journey ahead of her, but has the potential to achieve great things.”

MacPhail Center for Music
1616 Birch Lake Ave.
White Bear Lake

MacPhail Center for Music

501 S. Second St.
Minneapolis, MN

Evans Music
2182 Third St.
White Bear Lake

Dr. Reid Smith Piano Studio
33 Apple Orchard Road