Story Jason Browne | Photographs Luisa Porter
For as long as their brains have been producing long-term memories, the Sandifer siblings of Caledonia have been tethered to one another by music. Kind of like the Jackson 5 with less baggage. The Sandifer 3. But they call themselves the Sumic Trio.
Twins Lucy and Laura, 19, began violin lessons at 4. Little brother Scott, 15, took up the cello at 5. Now they’re self-employed musicians and seasoned vets of the Golden Triangle performance circuit. A fate they trace to an ad in the paper in the early 2000s.
“When Lucy and I were 4, my dad saw an ad in the newspaper about violin lessons and our parents decided to sign us up for that,” says Laura. (This was a year or so after the girls, just toddlers, were pronouncing “music” as “sumic,” something their dad would remind them of when it came time to name the trio.) “It wasn’t something we had dreamed of doing.”
But it was something they were preternaturally good at. Even if their stage presence needed some polish.
“One of my most vivid memories is coming out for our first recital when we were 4,” recalls Lucy. “Laura came out and flipped her hair over her shoulder, played and left. When I came out, I hid under our teacher’s skirt.”
That was before thousands of man-hours of practice, and literally hundreds of gigs. Parties. Weddings. Wine tastings. Church events. Charity events. Plus the various symphonies, orchestras and competitions they play in separate from one another.
Still shy of their 20s, their style and delivery sharpened to a razor’s edge, the gravity of the Sumic Trio remains stronger than the allure of Sumic Solo careers. To keep things fresh, they keep increasing the difficulty. They each play multiple instruments (mandolin, accordion and bagpipes are all in rotation) in addition to each other’s instruments. They arrange their own music for recording. They teach music lessons individually. They handle their own bookings and business. And they do silly stuff you would expect from teens who happen to be accomplished musicians.
“We play a lot of the same songs over and over again. ‘Canon in D,’ ‘A Thousand Years.’ So for fun we’ll play them ridiculously fast,” says Scott.
If speed classical isn’t your cup of tea, the group can probably adapt to your taste. One groom requested a rock playlist and was tickled to hear the Trio’s take on Ozzy’s “Crazy Train.” Their interpretation of Drake’s greatest hits is likely imminent.
They credit their mastery to the obvious advantage of living under the same roof. The products of homeschooling by musician parents, practice was a daily subject. Which led to Scott joining Laura and Lucy just one year into his own studies. Which bled into their performances as a form of musical telepathy.
“We have the most fun during concerts. We can look at each other and know what we’re thinking,” says Lucy.
After each performance comes what Laura refers to as the group’s “post-concert high.” Especially when their music connects with an audience.
“We have a lot of fun performing at nursing homes. We’ll see people who haven’t smiled or talked or gotten out of bed in so long, and they’ll be clapping and smiling. It brightens their entire day,” says Laura.
As the twins pursue music education degrees at Mississippi University for Women, and Scott angles toward a mechanical engineering program, the Sumic Trio remains as tight and active as ever. None have explicit plans to leave the area after college, and their schedule stays booked, sometimes with multiple weddings each weekend. Could the Golden Triangle see a Sumic Dynasty emerge?
Scott offers the most pragmatic take on the future of the Trio, which is a group and family in no rush to abandon what they’ve always known.
“Circumstances will likely divide us at some point, but until they do, we’re looking forward to staying together as long as possible,” he says.
To learn more about the Sumic Trio or for bookings, visit sumictrio.wixsite.com/thesumictrio.