Lydia Rigge loves to play the violin.

“My older sister started playing it when I was young,” said Rigge, who is a junior at Redwood Valley High School.

Desiring to play the stringed instrument as well, Rigge started taking lessons when she was seven. Years later she still travels to New Ulm one or two times a week for lessons in order to continue to hone her skills on the violin.

For Rigge playing the violin meant having the chance to do something different than everyone else, as one does not see a lot of students in the area playing it.

“I have really grown to love the violin over the years,” Rigge said.

That love shows to anyone who has seen her play.

In fact, Rigge has not only impressed audiences locally she is getting attention at a higher level and is turning heads with her skills. Earlier this year, Rigge competed in a regional FFA talent competition and placed first, which meant she qualified to take part in the state talent show.

That contest was held during the Minnesota FFA convention in April. At the end of the state contest, Rigge was declared the winner, and so this coming October she will travel to Indianapolis to compete at the national FFA convention.

That whole experience is still sinking in, said Rigge.

Rigge said she performed “Ashokan Farewell” by Jay Unger. Those who hear the piece will recognize it as the music for the “Civil War” documentary by Ken Burns. Rigge described the piece as a fiddle tune, adding it is something she enjoys playing.

While Rigge plays classical violin music, she has the skills to perform bluegrass style music as well. In fact, that is the type of music she prefers to play.

Yes, she said, there is a difference between playing classic violin music and bluegrass fiddle music, but mostly it is about just understanding differences in technique and the nuances of the music styles.

Rigge was one of 16 performers who competed in the state FFA talent show, and she feels honored to know she was selected as the best performer that day.

In addition to performing at the state FFA talent show, Rigge performs with fellow students in her violin class.

Rigge performed a piece as part of the local solo and ensemble concert and accompanied a selection during a recent choir concert. She also recently auditioned for the all-state, high-school orchestra and was selected as an alternate for that group.

Rigge has reached a level of skill that has allowed her to teach others, and she is currently offering lessons.

“Music is a big thing in my family,” said Rigge, the daughter of Scott and Kim Rigge, adding quite a few people in her family also play an instrument.

Being encouraged to pursue music by her family has helped Rigge grow in her skills, but just having that appreciation for music is what keeps her playing.

For Rigge music allows her to express herself in a way that nothing else can.

As a student, Rigge has also been involved in FFA, robotics, and she sings in the choir. Rigge said she enjoys choir, because it is another way for her to be involved in music. She added, having a great choir director, Katy Eckes, helps to make singing a lot of fun.

Although Rigge has achieved a level of skill that makes her an accomplished performer, she has no plan to stop learning.

She wants to continue developing as a musician and plans to be involved in music at the college level, as well.