Music, faith tie 9-member Monticello family together

Music, faith tie 9-member Monticello family together

By: Christopher Sienza

By: Christopher Sienza

By: Christopher Sienza

Family, faith and music. The nine-member King family of Monticello has combined these elements to stay a tight-knit and happy group.

It started, innocently enough, with the purchase of a violin at a local music shop's sidewalk sale. Tim and Kim King had four children at the time, with the oldest one being their 5-year-old son Caleb. The violin was purchased by a friend of the Kings, with the stipulation that Kim would teach the friend's son to play along with Caleb. The arrangement was convenient for the family, which had always planned to make music a part of their children's lives.

"Kim and I always knew that we wanted music to be a part of the family, a part of raising the kids," Tim King said.

The Kings are now a family of nine. Every single family member plays at least one musical instrument. The seven King children, ranging from 6 to 20 years in age, have branched out beyond their violin training to try their hands at piano, guitar, banjo and mandolin.

The Kings instilled the sounds of gospel and bluegrass in all of their children as a supplementation to their religious teachings at church.

"Our common faith and our music are the biggest factors in keeping us together," said Kim King, who believes that music has kept her family closer than the typical family of its size. "Our kids are best friends. As a parent, it's so much fun seeing them go to movies and things together all of the time."

Indeed, each member of the King family is quick to mention their Christian faith as a major influence.

"Faith is really important. Jesus Christ is our savior, and that's something that we want to put at the front of our music and our family," said Kendall King, 15.

The Kings have gradually expanded their musical talents, with a focus on bluegrass music. An afternoon at the Kings' ranch house is filled with the sounds of a musical family: children practicing, lessons being learned, and music playing off of computer speakers.

The family began playing at community nursing homes and churches, but they have since begun to travel both the state and the country for bluegrass festivals and music camps. These experiences have furthered the family's ability to bond across all age groups.

"The amount of really unique experiences that we've gotten to have because of all of this has helped," Mrs. King said.

Caleb, 20, agrees with his mother's sentiment.

"Overall, traveling as a family has been a lot of fun," he said. "Music has really helped our whole family spend time together. There's not a whole lot of things that you can do with a 6-year-old sister, other than watch a kids' movie or maybe pick flowers," Caleb jokes. The King family does not know how long it will continue to play together.

"As long as we are all having fun doing it, we'll continue to do it. But I know that it'll get harder as the kids continue to get older," Kim King said.

But she doesn't think the end of their adventure is just around the corner, either. "I think we'll be doing this together for awhile longer."

Visit this site to see video and hear the King Family.

The story and multi-media project was done by Christopher Sienza, a student in journalism for a multimedia class in the Journalism Department at the University of Illinois. The class is funded by the Marajen Stevick Chinigo Foundation.