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Miss Minnesota’s Talent Spans Beyond 88 Keys

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By Kerry McNally, WCCO-TV

ST. PAUL (WCCO) – Minnesota has a well deserved reputation for being the birthplace of some gifted musicians. Bob Dylan and Prince are two superstars that come to mind.

Could the reigning Miss Minnesota 2010, Kathryn Knuttila, be the next music legend to hail from the Twin Cities?

She was just 5 years old when her father held a family meeting to announce that they would be investing in a piano and that the whole family would be taking lessons.

“I started teaching when I was 14. I was so inspired by the way aunt taught me, I would have started teaching when I was 8 if I could. But I had to take all the tests to make me certified for Minnesota Music Teachers Association,” said Knuttila.

As a teenager, she had her own music studio up and running. That’s when the talented teen turned her aspirations to an even more ambitious goal: music composition.

“I entered a competition for the state of Minnesota and won first place and then third place in the United States. And so that gave (me) a boost of confidence.” Knuttila said.

It was a boost of confidence that translated into an even higher aspiration: composing music for major motion pictures.

“When you watch movies, I mean, the music makes the movies. So that would be the ideal job for me,” said Knuttila, who listed Danny Elfman (The Nightmare Before Christmas), Yan Teirson (Amelie) and Hans Zimmer (Inception) among her favorite movie composers.

But is she ready for the pressures of scoring a Hollywood blockbuster? When quizzed with scene-setting suggestions like “Dark and Stormy Night,” “Romantic Sunset” and “Screwball Comedy,” she proceeded to play music that fit those scenes perfectly.

Clearly, Knuttila is ready for any challenge and already looking forward to life after Miss Minnesota. She took a year off from McNally Smith College of Music in St. Paul to be Miss Minnesota and plans to return in the fall.

“I have many memories. I will be sad but I’m ready to go to the next phase in life,” she said.

It’s been nearly 20 years since she played her first note and now it is Knuttila who’s giving the lessons. We would all do well to take some notes.

Her CD of original instrumentals, “Blessed Beyond Measure,” is available online. One-hundred percent of the proceeds go to the Children’s Miracle Network.

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