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Violin-playing twins on Central Whidbey use talents to help others

By JUSTIN BURNETT
Whidbey News-Times South Whidbey Record Editor
July 10, 2013 · Updated 12:45 PM
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Avrey and Dustin (right) Scharwat play their violins at the Coupeville Farmers Market. The fraternal twins also hold junior black belts in Karate. / Justin Burnett/Whidbey News-Times

They’re 13, fraternal twins, excellent violin players and know karate.

Black belt karate.

By just about anyone’s standards, Dustin and Avrey Scharwat are cool kids. Whether you’re listening to them play music or watching them practice martial arts, the Central Whidbey brothers inspire.

They’re no slouches when it comes to putting their skills to good use either, especially when it’s to the benefit of the community.

Last year, they spent six weeks playing live in the hot sun at the Coupeville Farmers Market.

They raised $500 and donated every penny, including a $100 match from Prairie Center, to needy kids in the Coupeville School District.

Initially, the money was going to be spent on backpacks, pencils, rulers – stuff kids need for school. But, the brothers had other ideas. They decided, in this case, their donation would be better spent on toys, things that bring about a different kind of smile.

“We just thought they would enjoy it more,” Avrey said.

While the Scharwats’ accomplishments and generosity stand by themselves, they are all the more impressive considering the brothers each have debilitating physical afflictions.

Avrey is besieged with daily migraines that are so severe he often vomits, and Dustin suffers from a mitochondrial disorder that robs him of much of the energy found in the average 13-year-old.

It’s no surprise that the boys have two very proud parents.

“There really isn’t much average about these kids, except they like to goof off,” Frank Scharwat said.

Paula Scharwat is equally proud of her boys. She credits much of their success to being home schooled, which she says has allowed them the time to pursue their personal interests.

“They aren’t super kids,” Paula Scharwat said. “They are just flexible on their schedule.”

They also have great mentors, people like Robert Elphick of the 4-HD (digital) video club, Wendi Barker at Tiger Martial Arts in Freeland, and Roxallanne Medley, their Coupeville violin instructor.

Medley calls them her “two wonderful boys.”

“They play because they love playing and they are great kids,” Medley said.

Paula Scharwat said she wanted both her sons to play an instrument and is glad she did, for several reasons.

“It brings so much beauty into their lives,” she said. “It (also) teaches them a sense of value and commitment.”

Both are members of the Ceilidh Chids Youth Orchestra, but of the two, the violin is really Avrey’s passion. He was introduced to the instrument and picked it up five years ago at Coupeville’s Cedar School program.

He learned to play by ear rather than by learning musical notes. Dustin followed suit about a year later, and now they usually play together.

Not only is it fun, but the music is improved when the same notes from two different instruments are played simultaneously.

“We sound a lot better when we play together,” Dustin said.

Their skill has improved so much that they are now being paid to play. So far, they have peformed at weddings, memorials and a fundraiser for a local art gallery.

The brothers are also accomplished martial artists. Both have earned junior black belts, but it’s Dustin’s great interest.

Earning his belts were no small feat, requiring 1,000 sit-ups, 1,000 push-ups, 1,000 random acts of kindness and a whole lot of studying, he said.

“The hardest part was the black-belt test,” Dustin said.

While Avrey has taken a step back to focus on music, he remains an active practitioner of Karate.

The brothers haven’t made any decisions about their future career plans yet but their parents aren’t worried. They have a lot of time to decide and are living in the right place.

“They are a good example of the culture and opportunities on Whidbey Island,” Frank Scharwat said. “It’s this community that allows us to have children like this.”

 

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