A student from the local group is selected to compete for the state

Local student Vincent Huerta hauled a melody from San Juan Island to Bellingham where he was selected to compete to go state – and made it state – with his baritone saxophone. He is now ready to compete in Yakima at the state.

“I didn’t do it to compete,” Huerta said. “I just did it for fun. I like to play.”

No Friday Harbor student has been selected to compete since 2016. Huerta described it as eye-opening and intimidating to be surrounded by so many other talented musicians.

His musical journey began in sixth grade when Huerta had the opportunity to choose between art and the band. He is now in his second year of high school. While his mother said she encouraged him to choose band over art, he was also okay with the decision.

“I was like heck yeah, I wanna join the band!” Huerta exclaimed.

Instruments aren’t cheap, said her mother Breeann Talbott, and the school has few to borrow. When he started playing a cheap saxophone on Amazon, which his mother described as “a bunch of junk”.

As his talents progressed and he learned to play the devious saxophone, Huerta’s grandmother helped fund his musical ambitions. His gift allowed him to switch to a Yamaha.

Huerta had increasing success with the alto saxophone and soon wanted to venture out to play other instruments. Even when his band teacher told him he was too small to play bigger instruments, he didn’t let that obstacle get in the way of his passion.

One instrument he had his eye on was the baritone saxophone, which he said he liked for its bass sound. He worked hard over the summer to be able to afford to play it, and despite what his music teacher said, he was able to play it.

“He even played it outside the library after school,” Talbott said. “He played it everywhere he went.”

Since then he has also learned to play percussion, trombone, tuba, sousaphone and bass clarinet.

“I just look at the notes and I understand very quickly,” he explained, highlighting his natural musical inclinations.

He is in every group program the school has to offer, which includes jazz band, wind ensemble, and marching band. He is currently the only student to have been part of all the groups the school offers from sixth grade through high school.

His first music teacher was Carl Nelson, who is now retired. Tristan Thompson is the group’s current teacher, and Huerta said he enjoyed being in class with the two of them. He now assists Thompson in teaching the college orchestra.

With an affinity for instruments, Huerta said he would go wherever it takes him, perhaps playing in college. More importantly, he said he never wanted the competition to be a robber of joy for his passion for playing.

Talbott expressed how proud she and her father, Salvador Huerta, are of him.

Huerta’s grandmother has since died. His saxophone gift helped him navigate the musical world.

“His grandmother was his absolute biggest advocate,” Talbott said. “I know she would be so proud.”

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