It's funny how something that seems irredeemably unhip to a rebellious teen can become unquestionably cool once adolescence runs its course. So goes Leslie Jankowski's experience with the violin.

It's funny how something that seems irredeemably unhip to a rebellious teen can become unquestionably cool once adolescence runs its course. So goes Leslie Jankowski's experience with the violin.

She took up the instrument as a kid at the urging of her great-grandfather, an antiques dealer.

"I really hit it full-force," Jankowski remembered. "I would practice for hours a day when I was little, and I took private lessons at a local college. I did a lot of competitions when I was younger, up until high school, when I kind of rebelled."

At that point, she wanted nothing to do with the stodgy formalism of classical music, so she traded violin for guitar and set about writing "tragic, cliche" rock songs in the throes of hormonal teen turmoil.

"It never crossed my mind to make music for violin," Jankowski said, fully appreciating the irony.

After moving from the Cleveland suburbs to Columbus to attend Ohio State, Jankowski started Frostiva in 2000. For that well-known local act, she continued to shred the six-string.

But gradually, over the course of this decade, Jankowski returned to her first and best instrument. She joined Flotation Walls and began to play trumpet and violin alongside guitar to help conjure the music's epic scope.

Around the time she left that band, she joined Church of the Red Museum, setting aside guitar completely to focus on violin and trumpet. Her contributions soften and enrich the mournful, aggressive folk-punk ensemble - at least, they do when they're miked well enough to shine through the onslaught of guitars, organs and Brian Travis' enraged screaming.

"I have to negotiate having my violin heard," Jankowski said. "I have a lot to compete with."

She's since become an in-demand violinist. Jankowski joined whispery experimental folk group Moon High last year and guested with bands like Brainbow. She hopes to front another band on guitar at some point, but for now she's focusing on the fiddle.

And like most reasonable adults, she's gotten a lot less worried about how people perceive her music.

Gone is the dramatic teen guitar queen of yore, replaced by someone who can laugh at virgin fans getting the wrong idea about Church of the Red Museum. Thanks to the group's formal attire and unusual instrumentation, newbies often don't know what to expect when they see the musicians setting up.

"They instantly think we're a Celtic band," she said. "That just always cracked me up."