Local band student is selected to compete for state

Local student Vincent Huerta has carried a tune all the way from San Juan Island to Bellingham where he was selected to compete to go to state- and made it to state- with his baritone saxophone. He is now set to compete in Yakima at state.

“I didn’t do it to compete,” Huerta said. “I just did it to have fun. I enjoy playing.”

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 started in sixth grade when Huerta had the opportunity to choose between art and band. He is now a sophomore in high school. While his mother said she encouraged him to choose band over art, he was also on board with the decision.

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

Instruments aren’t cheap, his mother Breeann Talbott said, and the school has a short supply of them to borrow. When he first started, he was playing a cheap saxophone off of Amazon, which his mother described as “a hunk of junk.”

As his talents progressed and he learned to play on the shifty saxophone, Huerta’s grandmother helped to fund his musical ambitions. Her donation allowed him to upgrade to a Yamaha.

Huerta became more and more successful with the alto saxophone and soon wanted to venture out to play other instruments. Even when his band teacher told him he had too small of stature to play larger instruments, he didn’t let that hurdle get in the way of his passion.

One instrument he had his eye on was the baritone saxophone, which he said he likes for its low bass sound. He worked hard over the summer to be able to afford to play it, and despite what his band 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, the trombone, tuba, sousaphone and bass clarinet.

“I just look at the notes and sort of figure it out real quick,” he explained, shining light on his natural musical inclinations.

He is in all the band programs the school has to offer, which includes jazz band, wind ensemble, and marching band. He is currently the only student who has been in all of the bands the school has to offer since sixth grade up through high school.

His first band teacher was Carl Nelson, who is now retired. Tristan Thompson is the current band teacher, and Huerta said he has enjoyed being in class with both. He now assists Thompson with teaching the middle school band.

With an affinity for instruments, Huerta said he will go wherever it takes him, possibly playing in college. Most importantly, he said he never wants competition to be a thief of joy for his passion to play.

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

Huerta’s grandmother has since passed. Her saxophone donation has helped him blaze a path through the musical world.

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