“Ever since I was a child, we always had a good time at Halloween. I always enjoyed the scary music and trick or treating,” she said.
Sewell was born in Atlanta, grew up in Forest Park. She moved to Jonesboro in 1975, then Kennesaw in 2005. She has performed with the Georgia Symphony Orchestra and is one of the its piano teachers.
The first “Chills” recital was in 1999, and Sewell said, “It took off like a bullet.” During one recital, she had 72 people in her home. Marietta Country Club has been the recital location for the last three years.
“There is a tremendous amount of Halloween pieces for every level, from beginners to advanced,” she said. “I talked with students about a Halloween recital. They all jumped on it. We took it a step further and threw in theatrics in it where they dress up and get in character.”
Practice and preparation begin in the summer. On the day of the recital, students and their families are encouraged to dress the part. One year, a family came dress as The Adams Family. Sewell said the costumes and family participation help to alleviate any jitters students, ages 3 to 12, might have.
“It can be a little bit overwhelming. I think (being in costume) relaxes them,” she said. “I’m proud of them, and they work hard.”
The program begins with a “Goblin’s Processional,” where the students come down the aisle while Halloween music plays. Students perform songs such as “Halloween Wind” and “Black Cat Shuffle.” Sewell also composes original music for the recital and decorates the ballroom.
Acworth resident Tina Baker said her 9-year-old son, Steven, has been participating in “Chills” for three years. She likes “Seeing (Sewell) all dressed up and allowing her enthusiasm to spread to all of those who attend the piano recital, especially her students.”
Two of Kennesaw resident Sally Aquilino’s children — Julian, 7, and Amelia, 5 — will be playing this year, their second time participating in “Chills.” The proud mom said, “The most enjoyable part for the children is getting dressed up and performing their pieces in front of their family and friends. For us parents and grandparents, the most enjoyable part is seeing the children have so much fun performing.”
This will mark 11-year-old Aidan Fortenberry’s third year in “Chills.” His mother, Kennesaw resident Laura Fortenberry, said her younger son, Jared, 8, will also be playing this year.
“For parents, watching our children play in costume the pieces they’ve practiced so much — they (and we) are so proud,” she said.
Sewell said her purpose is the bring the fun back to Oct. 31.
“In the last several years, Halloween has had a bad name. That’s what I want to get away from,” she said. “We have a very good time. I love Halloween. I love what it does for the kids. I want to take the mean, inappropriate stuff out and enjoy it like I did when I was a kid.”
Reservations are required for “Chills, Thrills, and Giggles.” The recital will take place in the ballroom at the country club located at 1400 Marietta Country Club Drive, Kennesaw, 30152. For more information and to RSVP, contact Sewell at firstname.lastname@example.org.